Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Why HBO and the NHL need to unite again
Last time around I talked about the Winter Classic, and how NBC practically fucked the whole thing up due to their "creative" choices in camera work. One thing that I neglected to mention was the amazing four-part documentary that led up to the annual NHL mega-event, "24/7: Penguins/Capitals". If you missed out on this four hour long special and you're an NHL fan, you've been done a great disservice.
Anyway, what "24/7" managed to do was give viewers an inside view on the locker room interactions, day-to-day team affairs, and portraits of various players on both the Penguins and Capitals, leading up to the Winter Classic. It was profane, it was surprisingly graphic, and it was undoubtedly honest as well, as the series began with the Penguins sitting high atop the standings and superstar Sidney Crosby in the middle of a massive points-streak, while Alex Ovechkin and his Capitals were mirred in a big losing streak. By the time the documentary came to an end, viewers were given an on-ice view of the action on the rink, and it was just simply brilliant.
What I'm trying to get at here is that this is something that the NHL and HBO both need to do again. In press interviews or intermission reports, NHL players more often than not come off as humble, relatively polite, and have little in the way of personality, but as "24/7" showed us, that just isn't quite the case. The on-ice mayhem and shit talking, combined with the behind-the-scenes developments of the respective teams made for compulsive television watching. So much so that the ratings for this edition of "24/7" was a ratings juggernaut for HBO, coinciding with the ratings smash that this year's Winter Classic wound up being as well.
This is a sure-fire way to draw new fans into the sport of hockey and the NHL itself all at the same time. By providing these intimate looks at the players, teams, coaches, and even the fucking refs (who surprisingly came off as some just plain cool sons of bitches), one can learn just what the sport really is all about, and just how truly special a sport it is.
NHL athletes have more passion for their sport than any other brand of athlete in any other sport in the world today.
Don't believe me? Take a look at that picture (above) of Capitals center Matt Hendricks again.
That's what I thought.
Come on HBO, work some more magic with the NHL again, and soon.