Dustin Lamendola was in his home one day last year when he heard his wife humming an unmistakable tune.
Lamendola had listened to the melody an estimated 50,000 times and immediately told her to stop. The song was “Holiday Sweater” from one of the many San Jose Sharks viral holiday videos that spread joy and hilarity this time of year.
“I was like,‘Stop! You have to stop! I can’t take it anymore!’” Lamendola said jokingly.
Lamendola, the production manager for SJ Sharks Productions is one of many people (along with Sarah Peters and Nate Hone) involved with creating the videos that make their way through the internet to hockey homes this time of year.
From “Holiday Sweater” to “Slappy the Enchanted Holiday Elf” to players singing A Capella to a fake Christmas party, to a Home Shopping Network spoof, and finally to this year’s “Behind the Holiday Videos” spoof, the Sharks have proved one of the top teams in the league at making these types of videos.
“We have some funny people over the years that have had some input on that. It’s been fun,” Sharks center Joe Thornton said. “I think the fans have enjoyed it and the players being a part of it have enjoyed it too.”
“Slappy” was the first video, which came in 2009. It featured Thornton as a puppeteer trying to get his teammates to pass him the puck. Rob Blake, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau appeared amazed that the elf doll could talk, not realizing Thornton was the person controlling his actions.
That first got people interested, but according to Lamendola, the 2010 A Capella video took the idea to a new level.
“We kind of steamrolled it at that point with how silly we could be and the fans really respected and enjoyed it,” Lamendola said.
This opened the door for the shopping video.
And the the holiday party narrated by the San Jose announcers.
“Holiday Sweater,” which starred several players led by a rapping Matt Nieto, was so catchy that a lot of people in the organization, besides Lamendola, found it stuck in their heads.
“From the moment I first heard it, I started singing it in my head as we were approaching Christmas,” radio broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky said. “It was almost as if I couldn’t get it out of my head for a while, and now it’s back.”
The Sharks are fortunate that their players have been such willing participants in the videos. Thornton played a major role in the early videos. Marleau’s deadpan acting in this year’s video is crucial to its success.
Nieto, who dabbles in music, was more than OK with taking the lead on the “Holiday Sweater” rap. That video took an hour to film, but players didn’t mind since they were making something that was going to hit big in the hockey world.
“I think we all had fun making that video,” Nieto said. “A lot of guys were involved, not just guys that were actually rapping but guys in the video dancing and being goofballs. It was a good time.”
This year, the Sharks held am ambitious project with a five-part set called “Behind the Holiday Videos” where the team made up fake stories about how the videos were made. For example former goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was the eccentric Russian director for the “Slappy” skit. Television broadcaster Randy Hahn claimed he was the person behind the lyrics to “Holiday Sweater.”
This was a way to re-live the videos as an homage to the Sharks’ history in their 25th anniversary season.
“That’s really where the idea came from this season,” Lamendola said. “How can we tell a story that looks back and is able to incorporate past players such as Nabokov and Ryane Clowe and make a platform to get a look back in there that’s reasonable and silly in itself and the look back on a video franchise and let us spitball scenarios that could have happened.”
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