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When hockey fans think of the International Hockey League most think of "sissy teams from the suburbs," says Bob Volkman, associate CD at Cramer Krasselt/Chicago. But Volkman, art director Jeff Nixon and copywriter Craig Melcher hope to bolster the league's macho image with a farcical trio of spots for the Chicago Wolves, based in Rosemont, Ill.

"So you think the Chicago Wolves are nothing but animals?" queries a VO in one spot as a gum-chewing Wolf skates up to the mike to recite a poem by Emerson. A teammate interrupts to argue from the sidelines that he's actually reading the work of Thoreau. After some adolescent name-calling, a fight ensues on the ice.

In another spot, a costumed cat is performing a lame ice show routine when a pack of Wolves knock him down. There's nothing quite as exciting as animals on ice, the VO says, "but some species are more exciting than others." The tag: "The Chicago Wolves. These guys are animals."

Additional credits to CD Ernie Cox and producer Lisa Von Drehle. Wrye Martin directed through Wilson-Griak/Chicago.

Explaining a new Converse commercial for its "psycho training" shoe, art director Mickey Paxton says, "Most people who wear cross training shoes are heavy and balding. The psycho niche is for someone who's a little bit crazy."

To illustrate that wild side, an animated spot via Houston Effler Herstek & Favat, Boston, juxtaposes "Norman," a growling superhero type, with breathless, pudgy pink figures that depict typical cross trainers. Paxton calls the look "Frank Miller meets Ralph Steadman."

Directed by J.J. Sedelmaier, the spot begins with a group of jogging pink blobs whose grunting is interrupted by Norman, who barrels through, surrounded by thunder and lightning. "Cross trainers compete," reads the super. "Psycho trainers intimidate." Then, as the cross trainers lift tiny weights, Norman hauls on a massive barbell that displays his bulging pecs. "Cross trainers are conditioned. Psycho trainers are ripped," we're told. Finally Norman belts a homer that rips through their faceless heads. "Cross trainers are dedicated. Psycho trainers are psycho."

Other credits to writer Mike Wilson and CDs Peter Favat and Rich Herstek, and animator David Wachtenheim of J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, White Plains, N.Y.

A new print campaign for Bauer inline skates tries to capture the burning essence of hard-core bladers by showing the "dark" side of the sport, explains art director Greg Bokor of Leonard Monahan, Providence.

Yet, a cleaner, less cluttered rad sports campaign would be hard to find: "It's freedom," begins one half of an ad in small, grungy typewriter type. "You just happen to be a powerless slave to it," concludes the headline on the opposite page, looming large like forged iron, on a neat black background.

Additional credits to writer Kara Goodrich, creative director David Baldwin and

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