I recently reached out to my favorite NHL supporter, Caty Marzi, and asked her to make another contribution to my blog to cover the upcoming HBO series 24/7 Penguins/Capitals Road to the Winter Classic.Â She happily obliged.Â Enjoy!
For anyone who has been living under a rock for the past three years, the NHL Winter Classic is an outdoor hockey game played annually on January 1. This year, it will be documented by “24/7 Penguins/Capitals Road to the Winter Classic,” an HBO special seriesÂ that will follow both teams on their road to the big game ala 24/7 Boxing.
This is a huge opportunity for the NHL because it brings hockey into pop culture. I’m going to take a wild guess that the penetration of hockey fans in the HBO audience is not very high. What a series like this can do is humanize hockey and spark an interest in non-fans. It also super-serves existing fans by giving them more in-depth insight into the players and the games. It’s a little unfortunate that it will appear on a premium channel, but HBO is likely to do a pretty good job with it.
Hockey fans should watch because it’s hockey in prime time! We should watch it to discuss how genuine or disingenuous the players are. We should engage in arguments about how much or how little we think the NHL tried to muzzle HBO. Above all, we should watch to see what happens. Most of the video we have access to (in the US at least, Canada has infinitely more hockey related content) is plays, post-game interviews, or original online content created sporadically by the teams. This is documentary material crafted at the highest production level. HockeyÂ will truly be in the spotlight and hopefully it will shine.
For casual sports fans, hockey or otherwise, this is a must see for you as well. It promises to share insight into how hockey players think and how dedicated these men, and in many cases just boys, are to their teams and teammates. If human interest is a hook, you could snag a great white on this kind of story. You’ll also see two of the greatest athletes in sports right now in Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, who get minimal press due to the NHL’s low profile.
There’s also just the Ovechkin factor. He’s a nut job. You never know what he’s going to say or do. He’s kind of weird, funny, and he’s got some curious dentistry going on, but he’s all in. He’s aggressive and animated. If Sid the Kid is all finesse, restraint and wheat bread commercials, he’s the anti-Sidney.
For a quick preview of the series, check out this video. I’m surprised the NHL let HBO focus on this aspect of the game, but because of it, I have hope for this series to get to the core of hockey earnestly.
24/7 Penguins/Capitals Road to the Winter Classic debuts Wednesday, December 15 at 10:00PM/ET on HBO. Episodes 2-4 will follow each Wednesday after at 10:00PM/ET.Â Also, it looks like fans canÂ submit a comment on HBO.comÂ with a question for the Caps or Pens to be answered during the show, so check that out.