Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 11/13/07 at 10:40 AM ET
Versus has an ad promoting today’s If-you-don’t-have-our-channel-it-sucks-to-be-you game between the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings, and the picture is, to say the least, one of those images that would make a “We didn’t land on the moon” conspiracy theorist giddy as a schoolgirl:
Paul sent this one to me with a simple question—is this really Chris Chelios?—and when he suggested that it looked more like Brendan Shanahan, save the 06-07 Easton gloves, I agreed. As a hockey picture hound, however, I went to town on the image, looking for inconsistencies…
First and foremost, it struck me as odd that the “A” was positioned so low in relation to the Winged Wheel, and from there, my little brain started churning out a list of problems with the picture, starting with the fact that the “HAP” ad on the boards was at least a season old, if not pre-lockout; the fact that the gloves, if this was an image of Brendan Shanahan, were badly Photoshopped in as he used a pair of unmarked Easton PLD gloves before the lockout, and a pair of Bauer Vapor XXX gloves thereafter, while this was an 06-07 Easton with the “E” logo (they’ve since gone back to the block print “EASTON” on their gloves) on its cuff, and the colour contrast looked pretty weird, too bright in comparison to the rest of the image; the player behind Chelios was using a pre-R8 TPS glove, and the size of the logo indicated that it might in fact be a pre-lockout picture as the cuff has been changed when the HGTs were upgraded to the R8 design; if it was Chelios, his stick hand position was unusually high as Cheli uses a high-lie, short-shaft stick, not Shanahan’s longer Warrior or pre-lockout Easton Aluminum; and the picture certainly looked like Shanahan based on both the high cheekbones and the fact that Shanny’s much more pale than Cheli.
The bottom line, as far as I was concerned, was that this picture had all sorts of weird inconsistencies, and it looked like a 10-year-old went to town with it on Photoshop, using the hue/saturation feature to tweak contrast in all the wrong places.
So I put the picture down for a little while, went out to an appointment, and thought I’d get back to it later, but the image haunted me—it’s like one of those pictures of the moon that conspiracy theorists pick apart, claiming that the fact that you can’t see shadows, the fact that you don’t see starlight, and especially the inconsistencies in terms of the appearance of the American flag on the Apollo 11 landing, which seems to ruffle as if buffeted by wind.
Mind you, there are explanations for all of those, and explanations that those who’ve landed on the moon have de-bunked personally, including noting that there were shadows, but some had simply been washed out in particular images by the light reflecting off the lunar soil (if the soil didn’t reflect light, the moon wouldn’t be “bright”), noting that the absence of an atmosphere did not mean that stars were apparent in daylight as, well, the sun is pretty damn bright, which leads to the appearance of a “black sky” both to the lens and to the human eye, and the obvious note that the U.S. flag which was unfurled in the near-vacuum conditions didn’t mean that the aluminum pole upon which it was affixed happened to be a springy piece of metal, and the frame did what springy metal does—spring back.
All of that rattled through my brain as I kept on thinking about whether Shanahan’s face had been pasted on, whether the body position was truly suspect, why the board ads had been removed but the “HAP” along the back wall of the penalty box remained…
Then it hit me. I may as well have used Occam’s Razor, the concept that when you’ve got multiple theories about a problem, and a preponderance of unnecessary information clouds your view, the simplest answer is probably the most logical.
The simple answer? Yeah, it’s Cheli, but when the Versus people took the colour image and made it black-and-white, Chelios’s natural skin colour looked far too dark, so they lightened it using the hue/saturation tool. That would explain what looks like a “smudge” on the player’s nose, which is in fact Chelios’s natural skin colour as he’s both of Greek descent and happens to sport a tan. I don’t think they did the same thing with his glove, which, if you look at the hand closure and apparent flex of the backrolls which indicate Chelios’s specifications have been applied.
I don’t think there’s any sort of racial overtone here, despite the fact that other conspiracy theorists might want to go to town on this one—I think that in a black and white image, Cheli’s complexion might sap the features which people use to recognize him in the photograph. Occam’s razor applies there, too. Yes, this was completely “overthunk.” Long story short? It’s Cheli, badly Photoshopped. And we did land on the moon.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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