GEICO Endorsed Nico Hischier's All Star Campaign Before He Took the Ice and Continued to Prove It a Worthy Cause
Look, I hardly think the GEICO execs took a break from giggling over their multi-million dollar monetization of an animated lizard with an ambiguous accent to throw the #13 on their backs and become avid supporters of Nico Hischier's steady climb towards stardom. I don’t know how much brand exposure there is to be gained throughout a half-full Prudential Center at the moment, but it’s pretty obvious that endorsing its most talented tenant’s outside shot at joining the NHL’s elite at a league-wide showcase was a business decision.
That being said, it’s not one that I can’t appreciate, for if seeing the Devils future both spelled out and pointed in the right direction in the boldest of letters doesn’t make you smile then literally nothing during a lost season that’s been limited to minor moral victories will.
Honestly, every single resource at the Devils’ disposal should be devoted to Nico Hischier’s progression towards the perennial All Star plateau. Whether it’s by way of a pity invite to a gimmicky game or by way of an undeniable increase in on-ice impact, the evolution of their smooth-skating Swiss Army Knife should be priority number one. Be it through the product placement of endorsements on the boards or the unlicensed injection of undetectable PED’s behind them, Nico Hischier needs to be catered to...even that means hand-feeding him grapes as often as they are force-feeding him minutes. Simply put, by absolutely any means necessary, the New Jersey Devils need him to become the type of household name whose invite to All Star weekend is far more of a formality than it is a false hope.
Luckily, he's taken sizable steps towards doing just that even before a car insurance company jumped at the opportunity to pander to a particularly vulnerable/susceptible target audience. I would actually understand if those that naively questioned New Jersey’s far-sighted decision to extend the contract of a young, two-way stud at a price point above his current production have yet to take notice, for they didn't even bother to watch him actually play before the Devils’ regressed into a familiar form of irrelevance. That said, what we’ve seen out of Nico Hischier since the weight of the elephant in the room has been lifted off his line isn’t just a different player, but also a difference maker.
To call it a pleasant surprise would be to ignore that many just flat-out called it while he was crafting a full-length highlight reel out of his first appearance at the World Championships this past summer. Still, it’s refreshing to see that same type of fortitude consistently come to fruition as soon as the New Jersey Devils’ organization made it crystal clear that the fate of their future lies on the still-broadening shoulders of someone they were basically forced to trust as a first line center since well before he could legally buy himself a drink.
The defensive effort and intuition has always been there, but there has been a hell of a lot more gumption in Nico Hischier’s offensive game recently. He's been leading by example in finding and/or taking the puck with a purpose, and it's exponentially more commendable than the one that had him and his teammates blindly tossing it around like an active hand grenade the first 20-30 games of the season...
We're not just talking about one or two highlights. The point per game that he’s averaged over the last ten appearances that he's largely spent skating circles around the eye test speaks to his increased commitment to creating for himself and others. Might be too little, too late to earn an All Star Game invite, as not one player on the New Jersey Devils deserved so much as a pat on the ass before their playoff hopes were on life support. However, if fucking GEICO can recognize Nico Hischier's potential star power, even if it’s just as a regionally marketable name, then what do his stat-obsessed skeptics have left to question once they realize he's now producing with plays like this?