cameras-2

HBO’s 24/7 has, undeniably, made making a behind-the-scenes NHL documentary series a lot harder, mostly because it’s amazing from top to bottom. But that didn’t stop the NHL from trying to make a knock-off of sorts, which would serve the duel purpose of providing the fans a bit more of the rarely-seen personalities of professional hockey players, and for advertising the hell out of the fact that HEY YOU GUYS THERE’S GOING TO BE A BUNCH OF OUTDOOR GAMES THIS YEAR DON’T FORGET.

The show is called “NHL Revealed,” and it’s original episode aired yesterday, so I gave it a watch.

The show was good. Okay, thanks for reading, that’s the whole article. …But seriously, the content the NHL was given to work with was absolutely amazing, so there’s no way it could’ve been anything but.

Consider:

- They focused on the Ducks, Islanders, Senators and Penguins (obviously all teams that’ll be involved in outdoor games). They highlighted a game each. Win, win, win, win. Okay, good start.

- They followed Kyle Okposo and his wife to give birth to THEIR FIRST CHILD. Like, there were in the car for the ride there and all that. Then he scores the next night. As amazing as it was – I openly cried – I couldn’t help but think what HBO and Liev Schrieber would’ve done with it.

- They focus on Tavares, five point game. Focused on Perry, OT winner. Focused on Brodeur (first return to Montreal since the passing of his father), first star. It’s not like they retroactively followed these guys: they had pre-game features with them, they just happened to have big nights. They couldn’t have asked for more.

- AND, they were around as players got named to play for their Olympic teams! Total gold mine.

As I mentioned, I just couldn’t stop thinking “what would HBO have done with that” because this year’s version of 24/7 was so badly handcuffed by showing two utter non-rivals both playing poorly. There wasn’t a whiff of anything interesting going on. Joffrey Lupul’s coming back from an injury. Oh. The Red Wings have a lot of injuries. Got it. Um…??? …Yeah that was sort of it. They didn’t much clay to make a pot with.

But back to Revealed, which was rolling in mountains of clay…here’s a little more depth on the actual first episode of the series:

* Kyle Okposo holding his wife’s hand on the drive to the hospital, then hugging his parents after the birth of his daughter were moments that absolutely got me.

opo_n_dad-2

* John Tavares

A) prays to the plaque of Mike Bossy before games, and that’s amazing,
B) Appears to be doing a great job helping rookie Ryan Strome (positioning advice, followed be an inspiring “feels good, right?” after the kid’s first NHL goal), and
C) Still sounds like Ben Stein. “This is my game face” kills me as a commercial. I can just see the director…YES! NAILED IT! THE PASSION! MY STARS!

 * Erik Karlsson buying cowboy boots from the world’s biggest parody of a cowboy was amazing. “Gonna need some boot-cut britches” and “I knew you were strange” provided some levity.

karlsson_boots

* Nashville looks amazing, as I’ve been told a million times by anyone who’s ever been there. People trying to corral you off the street to come drink beer and steaks the size of an actual cow? I’m in.

steaks-2

* I did get a peek at a Bylsma whiteboard…

byls_whiteboard

…but I’ve broken them down before, and this one’s a bit tough to read. It’s still funny to see how much more stuff Bylsma has written on those boards than Carlyle and Boudreau did (granted, they could’ve given the same info out in other ways, packets or whatever, so who knows).

* The Brodeur stuff was a little dry for something that had the potential to be really interesting, and same with the Olympic announcements. It was cool to see, but because it’s the NHL, we get the scrubbed version – you know Jonathan Toews b****ed about the long speeches before the announcements (but we didn’t see it), you know guys like Brent Seabrook and Mike Richards were around when they found out they didn’t make their Olympic teams (but we didn’t see them), it’s all just…a little too polished.

In all, it’s a show worth watching. And in fact, if you’d like to do that, you can so right now at the bottom of the page. If you’re looking to catch the next episodes on the TV machine, this is from the NHL’s website:

The seven-part series debuts Jan. 22 on NBCSN and Jan. 23 on CBC (with a re-air Jan. 26 on Sportsnet in Canada).

Subsequent episodes will air in the United States on NBCSN on Jan. 29, Feb. 5, Feb. 27 (two-part), March 5 and March 12. CBC will air the one-part episodes one day after NBCSN but will also air the two-part episode on Feb. 27. Sportsnet will provide additional viewing opportunities on Jan. 26, Feb. 2, Feb. 23, March 2 (two hours), March 9 and March 16.

Here’s a good review of the show from Steve Lepore if you’re interested in knowing more (rhymes!) – for those you who just want to dive right in, here ya go: