Sunday, November 21, 2010
HBO's Road to the Winter Classic
I wrote about the Winter Classic a few months ago when Pittsburgh's Heinz Field was officially named as the site for this year's game. I know a number of my baseball friends tuned in this past New Year's day to see the Bruins and Flyers take the ice in our beloved Fenway Park. It's no secret that I was more than a little disappointed that the Pittsburgh Penguins were selected for their second Winter Classic, especially since a game with that much visibility should give exposure to more teams. Well, the game is about to get a whole lot more exposure.
HBO is known for their sports documentaries, most recently getting a lot of press for their Hard Knocks series on the New York Jets. They are pointing their cameras at this year's Winter Classic competitors, the Penguins and the Washington Capitals in what is being called 24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. When the word of this project came out, I was less than thrilled again. Ever since Sidney Crosby of the Pens and Alexander Ovechkin of the Caps have come into the league, they have been incessantly billed as the marquee attractions. As a fan of a team other than the Penguins or Caps, it's a bit frustrating to see your talented players get overlooked in favor of more hype for this manufactured rivalry.
After seeing the preview? I am really close to changing my tune. The first few minutes are largely a primer for the non hockey watcher, but then? I started imagining the unparalleled access to the off ice meetings and the locker room. Seeing what the players will go through in the time up to the Winter Classic will be amazing. And since it is HBO, it's sure to be much less censored and sanitized than we get to see in two minute post game interviews.
Here is the preview:
I'm not exactly thrilled about Crosby vs. Ovechkin, but it is a fascinating take on the process. I heard from a number of people who caught Hard Knocks and got into it even though they aren't football fans. Something similar might happen with 24/7. The NHL is the forgotten member of the big four pro leagues here in the states and it's amazing that it will be getting this kind of coverage. I trust that HBO will do it justice and maybe more people will get to see why I love this sport and its players so much.