What they're saying about HBO's upcoming Winter Classic series

pens-caps-24-7-logo.jpgWith the news breaking early this morning that cable giant HBO would be producing a documentary leading up to the Winter Classic featuring the Penguins and Capitals, it’s only fair that we hear from those who will be involved in everything.

The production will be called “24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic” and will debut the first episode on December 15th at 10 pm. The show will follow both teams leading up to and including the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day in Pittsburgh. It will also include a regular season meeting between the two on December 23rd. Think this will be punchy at all? You better believe it.

As for the players who will be featured, they’re beyond excited about it as D.C. Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg found out from the Caps perspective. If some of these quotes are any indication, NHL fans are going to eat this up like it was breakfast.

The Caps players were told about the series by GM George McPhee on Thursday morning, and then the media had at them about the prospect of being on unedited national television. Especially the unedited part.

“Well, hockey players don’t swear, so we don’t have to worry about that,” Matt Bradley said.

“Well, if I’m gonna say some bad words it’s gonna be Russian words,” Alex Ovechkin said. “Probably you guys don’t understand it. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

“I don’t know if guys are gonna be able to watch what they say or what,” Mike Knuble said. “There’s nobody in here that’s just an absolute idiot, saying dumb things all the time. I mean, I guess in the course of your workplace, you always let something stupid come out of your mouth. Some people it’s once a day, some people it’s once a week….We’ll have language. That’s the reality of pro sports. It happens. There’s moments that are kind of ugly at times. Stuff might get ugly at times, but probably our year will be going pretty smoothly.”

So whose mouth will you have to watch out for?

“Schultize,” Bradley said, straight-faced. “Schultzie gets pretty crazy behind the scenes. A guy like him, him and Tom Poti, those two guys, when you get them alone behind the scenes might get pretty crazy.”

“I mean, there’ll be certain guys like [Jason] Chimera that will take it over the top,” Knuble said. “When he sees the camera, it’ll be a whole different person.”

The way I’m picturing this playing out is if you took the Twitter account of Coyotes pugnacious forward Paul Bissonnette and acted it out in real life in front of the cameras. Except that no one would be acting. If you’re looking for ways to have the NHL showcase the personalities of its players, this HBO mini-series is going to be the elixir we’ve been clamoring for.

If you’re worried about the series being all about Ovechkin and Crosby, you’ve likely got a reason to be nervous as those two personalities demand a lot of attention anyhow. That said, the folks at HBO are at least saying this will be an all-encompassing project and not just the Sid and Ovi show. Steinberg asks the pertinent question with his own take on things.

How much of this is about Ovi and Crosby?

“It’s a show about the sport, it’s a show about the teams and about the journey with two teams simultaneously during a four-week period leading up to a very very unique event,” HBO senior VP Mark Taffet said. “It’s not specific to any one player, and we know we’re going to have a great experience, because these two teams are very open-minded, very creative, and they’ve shown a great willingness to allow us in places where many cameras haven’t been before.”

My translation: a lot.

All right, so people are going to be skeptical until it’s made and that’s fair. They will be doing their fair share to show what goes into putting on a game outdoors as far as setting the rink up and doing maintenance on it and ensuring that the players will have the best and safest ice out there.

We’d be remiss if we failed to mention that the Winter Classic will be live on NBC on New Year’s Day so consider this HBO project to be your warm-up for all the goodies going on here that day. Don’t worry, we’ll be talking plenty about it as the time approaches. I promise.

(Picture courtesy of the Pittsburgh Penguins)

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    PHT Morning Skate: What superstition? Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz grab the Prince of Wales Trophy

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Sidney Crosby decided to buck the trend and touch the Prince of Wales Trophy. (Top)

    –Former NHLers look back at their Game 7 battles. (Sports Illustrated)

    –A Q&A with the newest Panther Jared McCann. (NHL)

    –Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Penguins and Lightning:

    Joe Pavelski went from not being able to skate and not being big enough to becoming a Conn Smythe Trophy favorite. (TSN)

    Bryan Rust accomplished something pretty rare this postseason:

    –Some teams still need to sign some of their prospects or risk losing them.

    World Championship standout Shipachev named to Team Russia’s World Cup roster

    MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 21: Tomi Sallinen #51 of Finland and Vadim Shipachyov #87 of Russia battle for the puck at Ice Palace on May 21, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. Finland defeated Russia 3-1. (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)
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    Team Russia filled out the remaining seven spots on their World Cup of Hockey roster earlier today.

    Vadim Shipachev, who was fantastic in Russia’s Bronze Medal effort at the World Championships this month, was added to the team. The other additions to the roster are Ivan Telegin (CSKA Moscow), Evgenii Dadonov (SKA Saint Petersburg), Slava Voynov (SKA Saint Petersburg), Nikita Zaitsev (Toronto), Alexey Marchenko (Detroit) and Alexei Emelin (Montreal) were also added to the roster.

    Shipachev was the leading scorer at the 2016 worlds. He finished the tournament with six goals and 18 points in 10 games. A number of teams are reportedly interested in bringing the 29-year-old over to the NHL for the upcoming season.

    Former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov (yes, that Slava Voynov) also won bronze with Shipachev at the World Championship earlier this month. The 26-year-old had no goals and seven assists in 23 games in the KHL in 2015-16. He was forced to go back to Russia after spending time behind bars because of a domestic dispute with his wife. There is some doubt as to whether or not Voynov is eligible for the tournament.

    As always, Russia will have some serious firepower up front.

    Here’s the full roster:

    G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
    G Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
    G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

    D Alexei Emelin, Montreal Canadiens 
    D Dmitry Kulikov, Florida Panthers
    D Alexey Marchenko, Detroit Red Wings 
    D Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens
    D Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals
    D Slava Voynov, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) 
    D Nikita Zaitsev, Toronto Maple Leafs 

    F Artem Anisimov, Chicago Blackhawks
    F Evgenii Dadonov, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) 
    F Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
    F Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
    F Nikolay Kulemin, New York Islanders
    F Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals
    F Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
    F Vladislav Namestnikov, Tampa Bay Lightning
    F Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
    F Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks
    F Vadim Shipachev, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) 
    F Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
    F Ivan Telegin, CSKA Moscow (KHL) 

    It’s no surprise that Oilers forward Nail Yakupov isn’t on the roster. After their Bronze Medal win at the worlds, Russia’s head coach Oleg Znarok said not having Yakupov on the team was “addition by subtraction”.

    Hemsky, Faksa and the Michalek brothers added to Czech Republic’s World Cup roster

    SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18:  Ales Hemsky #83 of Czech Republic celebrates after scoring in the first period against Slovakia during the Men's Qualification Playoff Game on day 11 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
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    Team Czech Republic announced their full 23-man roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

    Like every other team, the Czechs named 16 players to their roster back in March. Joining the likes of Jakub Voracek, Tomas Plekanec, Ondrej Palat and David Krejci are Milan Michalek (Toronto), Dmitrij Jaskin (St. Louis), Ales Hemsky (Dallas), Radek Faksa (Dallas), Jakub Nakladal (Calgary), Zbynek Michalek (Arizona) and Michal Jordan (Carolina).

    Hemsky posted 13 goals and 39 points in 2015-16 and added a goal and four points during the Stars’ postseason run.

    Milan Michalek has represented his country a number of times, including in the last Olympics where he had no points in five contests. The 31-year-old was traded from Ottawa to Toronto as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade, but he didn’t have a good season, as a finger injury derailed his year. He finished the season with seven goals and 16 points in 45 games.

    Milan’s older brother, Zbynek, has also represented his nation a number of times at the international level. He took part in each of the last two Olympics.

    Nakladal completed his first season in the NHL in 2015-16. The 28-year-old had two goals and five points in 27 contests with the Flames.

    Former St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka, who was named to the team back on Mar. 2, is the only player on the roster who isn’t currently in the NHL.

    Here’s the full roster:

    G Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings
    G Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers
    G Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets

    D Radko Gudas, Philadelphia Flyers
    D Michal Jordan, Carolina Hurricanes *
    D Michal Kempny, Chicago Blackhawks
    D Zbynek Michalek, Arizona Coyotes *
    D Jakub Nakladal, Calgary Flames *
    D Roman Polak, San Jose Sharks
    D Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning

    F Radek Faksa, Dallas Stars *
    F Michael Frolik, Calgary Flames
    F Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes
    F Ales Hemsky, Dallas Stars *
    F Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks
    F Dmitrij Jaskin, St. Louis Blues *
    F David Krejci, Boston Bruins
    F Milan Michalek, Toronto Maple Leafs *
    F Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning
    F David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
    F Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens
    F Vladimir Sobotka, Avangard Omsk (KHL)
    F Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers

    Earlier this week, Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr announced that he wouldn’t be taking part in the World Cup event.

    In a surprising move, Jagr’s teammate in Florida, Jiri Hudler, was left off the roster. The 32-year-old had 16 goals and 46 points in 72 games with the Flames and Panthers in 2015-16. Radim Vrbata (Canucks), Tomas Fleischmann and Andrej Nestrasil (Carolina) also didn’t make the cut.

    Laine makes Team Finland for World Cup, Puljujarvi doesn’t

    Patrik Laine of Finland celebrates scoring against Russia during the 2016 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championship final match between Finland and Russia in Helsinki, Finland, Tuesday Jan. 5, 2016. (Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva via AP) FINLAND OUT
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    The Finns rounded out their 2016 World Cup of Hockey roster on Friday morning, and two of the country’s brightest young prospects received decidedly different news.

    Patrik Laine, the reigning World Hockey Championship MVP and likely No. 2 overall pick at this year’s draft, was named to the squad. Jesse Puljujarvi, the 2016 World Juniors MVP and presumptive No. 3 pick, was left off.

    Puljujarvi, 18, was edged out for a spot at forward by Laine, Minnesota’s Erik Haula and Sebastian Aho, a Carolina Hurricanes prospect that spent last season playing for Karpat of the SM-liiga.

    Aho, another 18-year-old, played alongside Laine for Finland’s silver medal-winning squad at the Worlds and finished the tournament with seven points in 10 games.

    On defense, Finland added three more skaters to the roster: Calgary’s Jyrki Jokipakka, Chicago farmhand Ville Pokka and Sami Lepisto, who plays in the KHL.

    In goal, another KHLer — SKA Saint Petersburgh’s Mikko Koskinen — was selected, and will compete for minutes with Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.

    The Finnish roster, in full:

    G Mikko Koskinen, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) *
    G Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
    G Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

    D Jyrki Jokipakka, Calgary Flames *
    D Sami Lepisto, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL) *
    D Esa Lindell, Dallas Stars
    D Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins
    D Ville Pokka, Rockford IceHogs (AHL) *
    D Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres
    D Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks

    F Sebastian Aho, Karpat Oulu (SM-liiga) *
    F Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
    F Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks
    F Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning
    F Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild
    F Erik Haula, Minnesota Wild *
    F Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers
    F Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
    F Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs
    F Lauri Korpikoski, Edmonton Oilers
    F Patrik Laine, Tappara Tempere (SM-liiga) *
    F Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues
    F Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago Blackhawks

    * named to roster today

    Among the notable “snubs” for Finland? Detroit’s Teemu Pulkkinen, Vancouver’s Markus Granlund (Mikael’s brother), Winnipeg’s Joel Armia, former Boston Bruin Joonas Kemppainen and Nashville’s Miikka Salomaki.

    In addition to Puljujarvi, it’s also worth noting two of the country’s brightest young prospects failed to make it: Kasperi Kapanen, who made his NHL debut for the Leafs this year, and Mikko Rantanen, the promising Colorado forward taken 10th overall in ’15.