A new chapter in how the NHL is portrayed begins tonight as HBO is set to launch 24/7 Penguins/Capitals. Never before has a camera crew been afforded the behind the scenes access and unfiltered production rights that the NHL has bestowed upon HBO for this anxiously awaited series.
The genesis of 24/7 was the wildly succesfull New York Jets’ “Hard Knocks” series that also aired on HBO. Much like “Hard Knocks” offered an unparalleled glimpse into the grind of NFL training camp, 24/7 Penguins/Capitals is expected to show hockey fans a side of the players and coaches that has never been seen before.
From what we already know, the show is expected to to be vulgar. You can leave any “The Boys on the Bus” comparisons at the opening credits of 24/7. While Bob McKeown’s 1987 Edmonton Oilers documentary offered a look at the NHL that was unheard of at the time – 24/7′s producers will not pare down any of the obscenities or internal strife that takes place behind closed doors.
The Washington Capitals have already issued a “parental discretion advisory” warning parents that this show is not neccesarily intended for children (a censored version will air later). Bruce Boudreau’s expletive filled tirade from Washington’s embarrasing loss to the Rangers on Sunday is expected to make Rex Ryan’s f-bomb filled rants look like kid’s stuff – and you can bet there will be a fair share of carrying on and PG-13 moments from the players in the dressing room, too. Boudreau’s penchant for comedy and the spotlight is nothing new, but as Christopher Botta tells us – it’s Penguins’ head coach Dan Bylsma who could surface as one of the show’s stars.
While it’s Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin who will likely carry the most on-screen time, role players like Max Talbot, D.J. King, Matt Bradley, and others will likely capture the attention of viewers, too. For a league that tends to beat personality out of its players before (or shortly after) it has a chance to manifest itself, this is major step into the realm of entertainment for the NHL.
So grab some snacks and your favourite beverage (maybe several if you plan on playing Puck Daddy’s 24/7 drinking game) and settle in for what promises to be the most provocative look at the NHL that we’ve ever witnessed.