NHL’s moving ‘Handshake’ commercial honors Stanley Cup Playoffs’ greatest forced tradition (Video)

The NHL’s had some wonderfully heartfelt Stanley Cup Final commercials in recent years, with a few genuinely moving ones: “Cup Raise” and “No Words” come to mind.

Does ”Handshake,” the NHL’s latest ad for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final developed with the Minnesota-based advertising agency mono., rise to that level? Watch and judge:

Via the NHL:

This year’s commercial, “Handshake,” celebrates one of the greatest traditions in sports – the handshake line between players at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final.

Like previous Stanley Cup Final TV spots – “Cup Raise,” “Boys” and Emmy Award-winner “No Words” – “Handshake” focuses on a revered tradition that is unique and deeply meaningful to hockey: the final heartfelt moments between members of the winning and losing teams when they line up to shake hands at center ice.

“Hockey’s tradition of the post-game handshake is the epitome of sportsmanship,” said Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing. “Competitors line up to look each other in the eye, acknowledge each other’s efforts and extend a hand of congratulation or condolence after a hard-fought series. This very honest and authentic moment shows the mutual respect our players have for each other, the sport of hockey and the Stanley Cup.”

Pretty good spot. Here’s the thing: Either you love the post-series handshake and think it’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs’ most sacred tradition, or you think it’s a convoluted exercise in squirming and forced-manship.

OK, there is some middle ground: For example, I can’t stand the over-reverence given to the handshake by the media, which portrays it as some kind of warriors’ wake when it has all the uncomfortable sentimentality and forced smiles of my family at Thanksgiving.

But there is something awkwardly wonderful about seeing two players who abjectly despise each other forced to make nice for a moment, like a teacher making two kindergarteners hug after they pulled each others’ hair on the playground.

So what did you think of “Handshake”?