As the season reaches its climax, the Kontinental Hockey League is proud to unveil its universe of hockey superheroes. The artwork features the mascots of the 16 teams currently doing battle for the Gagarin Cup as the playoff struggle gets underway.
In our universe there are no supervillains, although we do have a Joker from Helsinki, and everyone in this cast of hockey heroes boasts a true superpower – they all live for hockey. And, as a team, they have much in common with the Avengers: the line-up changes with each passing edition and nobody knows who will come out on top in the battle for the most cosmic trophy in the game.
To bring the concept to life, we turned to a graphic designer whose work is well-known throughout the world of sport – American artist Eric Poole:
“The KHL project was a lot of fun. I knew of the KHL and a few of the bigger teams (SKA, CSKA, Jokerit, and Metallurg because of Yevgeny Malkin), but really had no idea about any of the other ones. So it was cool to see and work with new mascots, new uniforms and logos, and learn about all the teams in the league. I actually thought the KHL jerseys were really nice looking. Very classic and clean.”
The characters were modelled on the familiar mascots of the 16 clubs contesting this year’s playoffs. Of this ‘Group of 16’, only Ufa got a new look: in place of the pine martens Salavat and Yulai came the Bashkir national hero who lends the hockey club his name.
“The mascot that was hardest to create was probably Salavat Yulaev, just because I had no previous idea who the person was,” Eric admitted. “So it was a lot of looking at different references to get the look I wanted down.”
Salavat Yulaev was not the only creative challenge but the creative process came up with all the answers:
“Also, the three leopards [ed: Ak Bars, Barys and Sochi] were a bit tricky just to get them to all look different and have their own identity. My favorite is probably the SKA horse. I like the pose, the uniform and the colors. He just came together really well. Second would be Traktor, he turned out really great too. Although honestly, I thought they all turned out great!”
By way of a bonus, two further heroes were developed for the artwork before the unpredictable hand of hockey fortune ended their teams’ chances of battling for the big prize beyond the conclusion of the regular season – the colorful mascots of Sibir and Dinamo Riga thus go to the reserve bench for this year.
This special artwork is available to download as wallpaper for mobile devices. You can get your copy from here.