Thursday, September 23, 2010

HBO to feature Pens/Caps for '24/7' series

By Jeff
Yeah, like this would ever happen again.

The Post-Gazette broke the news earlier today that The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals will be featured in an HBO reality series leading up the Winter Classic game on New Year's Day.

The show will be under the "24/7" banner HBO previously used for boxing and NASCAR events. Players will be mic'd up on and off the ice, making for some fun television.

I'm torn about this news. On one hand, it's great exposure for the NHL. Millions of people watch HBO and the "24/7" series has been very successful. By showcasing two of the league's premier teams with the two most recognizable players, the league has a great opportunity to attract more fans to the sport. Even RJ will have to admit NHl commissioner Gary Bettman made a good move here.

Hockey fans are also winners, especially in Pittsburgh. We were trapped with the Pirates all summer. Hockey was sorely missed and having more of it to watch this season will be great. Especially when you get Max Talbot on the mic. That's the same Max Talbot who publicly called Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin a douche. Will we get similar gems during the show? Doubtful, but we can dream.

Now, the other hand. Reality shows like this usually try and makes athletes look like idiots. Most athletes don't have to try very hard to look bad (See Antonio Cromartie's attempt to recall the names of his children on "Hard Knocks), but it seems like these shows try to put them in the position to do so. I'm worried the show will try portray athletes inaccurately.

Fans of the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and all the Canada teams will also be annoying during this time. They hate how much attention Sidney Crosby gets. They will claim it's more proof that Bettman favors the Pens and sets up the league so Crosby and the team will do well. These people are wrong and conspiracy theorists, but what can you do? Despite Crosby always saying the right thing to the media, I am sure producers will try and catch him saying something negative about an opposing player, his own teammates or the refs. Especially the refs. Crosby has a reputation for being a baby, so they will want to catch him in the act.


I understand some of the hate. If my team were talented and it seemed like they were ignored because of all the press Crosby and the Pens get, I would be bitter. But they take it too far. They say he's overrated, he's not one of the top 10 players in the league and other ridiculous things. The man is 23 and getting better every season because he works his ass off all year. While he dives occasionaly, not nearly as much as haters claim, he plays the game the right way. You won't hear Crosby mouthing off to the media about the opponent or crying about how crappy his wingers are playing. He deserves the "C" as much as any other captain in the league.

*** RANT OVER ***

Crosby won't be the only target, though. Ovechkin is going to draw the hatred of many viewers as well. Ovechkin is the opposite of Crosby off the ice. The Russian frequents night clubs and has a great time, which is fine. If he wants to party like a rock star, he should. He's got the talent to back it up. I could see the show trying to catch him wasted one night or hung over the next day at practice, though. Or even make it seem like he is trashed, when he's not.

People need to realize that reality shows aren't really reality. Producers choose what to show you and what to omit. If they want to create a villain, they can do it. The show is great for the NHL, but the players really need to be on their guard with the cameras always lurking. Expect Talbot and Ovechkin to be the stars.

Warren Zevon - Hit Somebody


  1. It is a good move for the NHL although I highly doubt it was Bettman's idea so the only credit I will give him is not turning down this opportunity. However, this does nothing to change the perception that the NHL is only about Crosby and Ovie and that the league has other stars. In that sense I think is a bad move on the NHL's part just as making the Winter Classic with those two teams against each other was a bad move. Casual hockey fans and even those with passing interest would watch some of the winter classic as long as one star was in it, seems foolish to me to put both in that game. You could have had the Penguins host the Rangers or even the Sabres again and it will do well. Bad job to blow one of the perceived marquee matchups on a game that will be watched anyway by enough folks.

  2. How are they blowing the perceived marquee matchup? You showcase two of your most skilled teams to get more interest in the sport. It's also the biggest rivalry in the sport right now.

    Not to offend Sabres fans, but what's exciting about that team? Ryan Miller is good, but is there any other marketable player involved?

    Also, how do we know HBO didn't approach the NHL about the 24/7 Winter Classic before the teams were selected? If the 24/7 idea came first, then HBO probably wanted a rivalry that would make for good TV.

    Good job by the NHL to make the Winter Classic even bigger than before. Blowing it would be putting Uncle-Daddy and any team that plays the trap in the game. It would set hockey back 10 years.