Back when I wrote this plea for the NHL to do “a hockey version of the NFL’s Hard Knocks” I never could’ve imagined how great it would eventually turn out, let alone that it would happen. Last season’s four-episode lead up to the Winter Classic won an Emmy Award for a reason.

As someone lucky enough to be attending in Philadelphia this year, I’ll once again be paying close attention.

Philly is probably the most interesting team in the NHL this year after their crazy off-season. Two studs in their primes (on long-term contracts) were shipped out, an all-star goalie was brought in, and one of the NHL’s greatest players from nearly two decades ago was brought in after three years away from the NHL. And damned if they didn’t end up staying a really good team after all those moves.

And don’t look now, but the Rangers are on an absolute tear after a summer where they nabbed the big prize in free agency, Brad Richards.

The dynamic of these two locker rooms is something we can all appreciate getting to see, especially with names like John Tortorella and Chris Pronger in the mix (he’s out for a month for knee surgery, but he’ll still be around), so let’s take our first look at this season’s preview.

I’ll be doing a full recap of every episode once they start airing December 14th. Enjoy your first look!

Comments (5)

  1. After last year’s 24/7 I was looking forward to this years’ version so much that I wouldn’t have cared if it followed Winnipeg and Phoenix.

    But I for one would love to see a version beyond just following the two teams participating in the winter classic.

    Imagine a “24/7: Pursuit of the Holy Grail” series that picks up following the 4 teams involved in the Conference Finals, and then the 2 teams in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    The viewer would get 4-5 weeks of glorious coverage behind the doors of the most intense battles of the playoffs.

    The series for the winter classic is a great start, but coverage behind the scenes of the playoffs would reach mind-boggling levels of awesome.

    • I doubt any GM will ever go for this. The psychological effects of having the cameras around 24/7 will be too risky for any GM to agree to during the playoffs. I’m not sure what the league could force upon the GM’s under the CBA, but I doubt they’d go for this.

    • It would be amazing, but I just can’t see it getting green-lighted. Mid-season, I’d love to be a part of the show. In the final stages of the Cup chase, I wouldn’t have a damn thing to say to TV people or anyone but teammates. You’re right – potential there is huge. But I don’t think there’s a team in any sport that’d have that.

      • Except that in basketball/football, you already have cameras in the locker room/huddles for speeches, etc.

        I get not wanting the intrusion on the guys’ personal lives at home, that makes sense to me. But other than that, the access granted to HBO isn’t much different than the access granted by other sports in other leagues, just better storytelling and production.

        Is it really going to impact a player so much if he’s miked up and in uncensored instead of miked up and censored?

        Is it really going to impact a team if there’s a camera on their flight? We’re talking about the last 2 rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There’s media everywhere. They can’t handle an extra camera? I call BS.

        At some point the NHL is going to realize that its card to play against the other sporting leagues is access. The game is a business; I get the purity/beauty of the sport arguments, but it’s a business, and the bottom line is increasing revenue. Increased revenue benefits the players directly in increased cap and increased salaries. Something like this would help to that end.

        If boxers can have cameras in their face all the time leading up to a big fight (their Stanley Cup Final), are Hockey Players that sensitive that they can’t?

        Again, I think it’s only a matter of time. It benefits the league, it benefits the teams, it benefits the plyers. As more teams participate in 24/7 via the Winter Classic, or their own team-initiated 24/7-lite things like Oiler Change or what Minnesota did over the summer, they’re going to get used to it and the management will realize the benefit.

  2. As a Rangers fan (and Flyers hater), I am stoked about 24/7 and stoked about the Classic. Both should be damn good viewing.

    Does anyone know when they’re starting to put the rink together in Philly? I’ll be in there in early December and wondering if it’ll pay to stop by.

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