NEW YORK -- A who's who from the hockey world mingled with big wigs from the arts, entertainment and fashion worlds in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday night. If appearances mean anything, their worlds collided with grace.
Vanity Fair editor and native Ottawan Graydon Carter hosted a cocktail party for the NHL and 20 of its biggest stars at his restaurant, Monkey Bar, on 54th Street between Madison and Park Avenues. Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, among others, shared stories and snapped photos over cocktails and appetizers with notables like designer Vera Wang, actor Tom Cavanagh, director Jason Reitman and gold-medal winning figure skater Evan Lysacek.
This wasn't the first time Vanity Fair and the NHL hooked up in a cross-promotion -- it wasn't even the first time Tuesday (Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were in a photo shoot together earlier in the day for Vanity Fair with photographer Bruce Weber). However, it was yet another sign that the NHL is a player in the pop culture society, even during Fashion Week.
Vanity Fair party for NHL stars (Getty Images)
"We've done a lot of hockey things over the years and the thing is with hockey guys, they look normal," Carter told NHL.com. "They're not huge-sized guys, 350 pounds, so they fit in with normal life a little better. It works for us. The NFL and professional baseball are covered to death in this country, and hockey is just cooler."
Carter has hockey roots dating back to his childhood days in Ottawa, but he said he isn't so much a fan of professional sports these days. His children, however, are nuts about hockey, and he was making sure that several players took photos that he could send to his daughter, Bron, a Bruins fan who attends private school in Massachusetts.
She thinks they're all cute, Carter said, and his eye for talent and fashion as one of the leading magazine editors in the world leads him to agree with his teenage daughter.
"We don't do NBA stories and we don't really do baseball stories," Carter added. "The one professional sport we've done more photographs of is hockey. You can't cover it because it's covered like crazy in the papers the next day, but hockey players are more attractive than football or basketball players because they're normal size. The tallest guy here is 6-3 or 6-5 probably, and everybody lies about their height."
As for the cross promotion between the magazine and the NHL, Crosby told NHL.com it's a no-brainer, and with more of it both sides could benefit.
"From the hockey side, maybe we'll be able to reach out to people that don't always follow hockey but may want to," Crosby said. "And maybe the magazine will get some hockey fans that might not already read it to pick it up and look it over."
With conversations going on around him and players talking with television executives, celebrities, models and socialites, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman sensed that none of the athletes felt out of place or out of their element even though they were about as far away from a rink as possible.
"I think the players are very much enjoying this and they're enjoying the attention," Bettman told NHL.com. "I also think they're enjoying the opportunity to interact in what is not a typical venue for athletes. Our players, in addition to being authentic, represent themselves both on and off the ice extraordinarily well, and I think they have a real strong fashion sense about them."
Carter certainly agrees, so much so that he'd like the NHL to make this type of evening an annual event and wouldn't mind doing more cross promotion with the NHL and guys like Crosby and Ovechkin in the future.
"This is a tough night because there are a million things going on with Fashion Week and it's hard to know who the hockey fans are out there, but we got a nice group of people here and I think it's good for the NHL to do this," Carter said. "I really do. They should do it once a year if they can."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl