1666584571 cut

Facing a Connor McDavid slap shot is a daunting task under normal circumstances. Try doing it wearing goalie gloves on the wrong hand.

That’s what Chris Nelson did when he was in goal for a BetMGM commercial featuring the Edmonton Oilers center and Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky that began airing in early October.

“Wardrobe assumed that all goaltenders catch with their left hand and not their right,” said Nelson, who is left-handed and catches with his right hand. “So now I’m playing opposite hand than what I normally play, and I’ve got Connor McDavid taking slap shots from the hashmarks — 15-20 feet out — and I have the whole world watching. A little bit of pressure.”

The wardrobe malfunction was all good with Nelson. The commercial is part of a busy streak for the former University of Wisconsin defenseman and New Jersey Devils prospect who is seemingly everywhere in Hollywood these days, both in front of the camera and behind it.

In addition to the BetMGM ad, Nelson appears in a hockey-themed T-Mobile commercial where he and an opposing player take a face-off using foam pool noodles.

He has a role and was as technical adviser for “Your Place or Mine,” a Netflix rom-com starring Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher that’s scheduled to be available to stream Feb. 10, 2023.

But Nelson’s biggest role in this run was as hockey technical advisor for the second season of “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” series on Disney+. The 53-year-old Philadelphia native trained the actors and choreographed all the on-ice scenes.

“Chris was an absolute MVP on our staff,” said Josh Goldsmith, a “Game Changers” executive producer and showrunner with his wife, Cathy Yuspa. “There was no way we could have done the show without him. He brought incredible ability to help us understand what goes on on the ice and help stage it and choreograph it in really visually interesting ways.”

Melissa Kosar, the show’s co-executive producer and director for three episodes this season, appreciated having Nelson on the set for the action scenes and to just talk hockey.

“Being able to speak the same sports language as Chris, we were able to push each other creatively to incorporate some really fun and special hockey sequences,” said Kosar, a diehard Chicago Blackhawks fan and an avid recreational hockey player who wore her skates while directing on-ice scenes for the show. “For directors who might not have that background, they were able to lean on Chris’ expertise.”

So were the actors, who Nelson put through a two-week camp prior to filming to go over skating and hockey skills.

“He taught us so much, even though we learned a lot in Season 1,” said Swayam Bhatia, who portrays Mighty Ducks player Sofi Hanson-Bhatt in the series. “We all progressed even more in Season 2. He was also with us on-set a lot of times, so him being there to correct us even while we were filming was awesome because the choreography, as you can see in the first two episodes, is really intense.”

Nelson even steps in front of the camera for a small role in the series and delivers one line.

“Is it Emmy-possible?” Nelson said. “Absolutely not.”

Nelson never dreamed he would find success in show business after finishing his collegiate playing career at Wisconsin, where he played on the 1990 NCAA championship team. He had 42 points (11 goals, 31 assists) in 143 games for Wisconsin from 1988-92.

The Devils selected Nelson in the fifth round (No. 96) of the 1988 NHL Draft. But with defensemen Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Scott Niedemayer, Viacheslav Fetisov and Tommy Abelin already on New Jersey’s roster, he knew he wasn’t getting to the NHL anytime soon.

He bounced around the minor leagues for seven seasons before moving back to California — where he lived when his parents taught at UCLA — in 1996 to explore show business opportunities. He played professional roller hockey at the same time he was appearing in TV shows like “Baywatch,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Bones.”

Nelson parlayed his hockey skills into technical adviser jobs on films like “Miracle,” “Batman & Robin,” “The Tooth Fairy” and “The Love Guru.”

He said he scaled back on the advising work for almost a decade because, in part, he felt it was hard to top the job he did on “Miracle,” which regularly makes Top 10 lists of the best hockey movies ever made.

Then an iconic franchise came calling.

“There’s such a cult following with the ‘Mighty Ducks’ franchise that everybody wants to be a part of it,” he said. “It’s fantastic because everyone who worked, everyone who was used for the action, you’re making your own legacy until the end of time because you’re immortalized now in the ‘Ducks’ franchise.”

Nelson said he believes his increased workload in TV commercial and advising reflects an awareness within the entertainment industry and among advertisers that hockey is growing more diverse, and the demographics of the fan base are changing.

“Clients and viewers are now accepting and understanding that there are different races, colors and religious preferences in the world of hockey and the world of sport,” he said.

“I’m very well qualified for the stuff that I do, but it’s now also a time where people are seeing and accepting. And it’s opening up opportunities for people like myself and for women in hockey as well.”

That said, Nelson isn’t in a rush to quit his day jobs. He runs LockerRoom13, a hockey storage and hospitality company he created in 2019 for Los Angeles area players who don’t have time to haul and care for their equipment.

The company picks up a player’s gear and takes it to its El Segundo warehouse, where it’s cleaned and stored before being delivered at the player’s rink before the next game.

Nelson also handles the equipment for the Los Angeles Kings’ emergency backup goalies (EBUGs) and has helped the Kings identify local goalies capable of filling the job over the years.

The uptick in his entertainment work prompted Nelson to launch another business: Hockey for Hollywood, which provides technical advisers, ice camera operators, skating actors and stunt performers and coordinators for productions.

His goal is to become a director in the future.

“I’m basically already a second unit director,” he said. “As a director, you can take control of the atmosphere, the energy around the entire set. It becomes your creative baby and that’s what I’m really looking to move into.”

Photos: Disney+, Derek McKenna, Chris Nelson, T-Mobile



Source link