HBO to produce documentary series based around Capitals and Penguins in the Winter Classic


2011winterclassic.jpgAre you ready for some uncensored, behind the scenes NHL action? You’d better be because cable network HBO is going to be jumping head-long into the league to produce a documentary series based around the Penguins and Capitals playing in the Winter Classic this winter. Seth Rorabaugh of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette breaks the news on what it will be like.

It will be similar to the popular “Hard Knocks” series, which has documented the training camps of NFL teams over the past decade. This summer, HBO had full access to the New York Jets.

Much like “Hard Knocks,” this NHL series will have players wearing microphones on and off the ice and would offer an uncensored look at the Penguins and Capitals leading up to the New Year’s Day game. A game between the Penguins and Capitals Dec. 23 in Washington is expected to be one of the main focuses.

HBO’s “Hard Knocks” is what gets everyone’s attention for sure as that’s been a huge hit with NFL fans, but Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites clues in on another HBO series that this would more likely play out like.

And while “Hard Knocks” is being mentioned in the Post-Gazette and Puck Daddy stories, I have a feeling this is going to be of the 24/7 series variety. Hard Knocks is co-produced by NFL Films and HBO. And I believe the name is even owned by the NFL and licensed to HBO.

The 24/7 series is owned by HBO and has focused mostly on boxing, but did venture into NASCAR earlier this year with a look at Jimmie Johnson’s preparation for the Daytona 500.

The 24/7 series has won several Emmy Awards over the years and brings a well-known brand name to the NHL. It also gives the league some free marketing for the Winter Classic through HBO.

Call it “Hard Knocks” or “24/7” or even “Sid and Alex’s Winter Vacation” if you want, we’re sold on this immediately because virtually everything that HBO does that is sports-related is masterfully done. Their work in previous hockey-related productions surrounding the 1980 Miracle On Ice team and the Broad Street Bullies are shining examples of treating hockey stories with both reverence and profound respect while not dumbing things down for everyone watching at home.

The NHL handing the keys off to HBO to produce this documentary series highlighting the two most media-friendly/media-loved teams is a brilliant move to let fans see what guys like Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, and Backstrom are like behind the scenes and off the ice. Getting a more profound view of coaches Bylsma and Boudreau are going to be pleasures to watch. Getting a closer view as to what goes on into putting on a huge event like the Winter Classic will be fascinating.

The only question left is: Will die-hard fans eat it up or will they turn their backs on seeing two media darling teams continue to get more of the spotlight? While we expect there will be plenty of loud grumbling about that, when you’re dealing with two superstars like Crosby and Ovechkin, accepting that they’re going to be the most featured guys in the spotlight is all part of the game. It’s not as if they haven’t earned it after all.

PHT Morning Skate: P.K. Subban as Don Cherry

P.K. Subban,

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.

GM Ken Holland didn’t mince words about wanting to kick Mike Babcock’s, er, butt. (Toronto Sun)

You should check out the Pittsburgh Penguins’ initial power-play alignment … unless you kill penalties in the NHL. Then you might want to think happier thoughts. (Penguins’ site)

Last season’s top “feel-good” stories will hamburgle your attention. (The Hockey News)

Wayne Gretzky playing road hockey? Wayne Gretzky playing road hockey. (Sportsnet)

A look back at Todd Ewen’s life and hockey career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

It’s not the best thing P.K. Subban has done lately, but you may still enjoy his Don Cherry impression:

O’Reilly apologizes, but ‘not going to say exactly what happened’ in DUI incident

Nashville Predators v Colorado Avalanche

Interesting bit here from the Buffalo News on Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly, who on Tuesday made his first remarks after being charged with impaired driving in July.

“After this week it’ll be sorted out and I can comment more on it, but it’s an unfortunate situation,” O’Reilly explained. “I think with the way the Sabres have invested in me and seen light in me, to be involved in a situation like that it’s definitely unfortunate. I would never want to do that, so I definitely apologize to all the fans and just the kids that see the situation.

“I’m not going to say exactly what has happened. That’s going to come out in court.”

Back on July 13, news broke that O’Reilly had been charged by Ontario Provincial Police with impaired driving and leaving the scene following an alleged incident at a Tim Horton’s restaurant.


O’Reilly, 24, from Bluewater, Ont., had been charged with driving a motor vehicle while ability impaired (alcohol) and care or control over 80 mgs.

He was also charged under the Highway Traffic Act with failing to remain at the scene.

According to Middlesex County OPP, a green Chevrolet pickup struck struck a commercial building on Richmond St. last Thursday morning (July 9) just after 4:00am. An employee of the Lucan Tim Hortons confirmed to AM980 that there had been a motor vehicle incident, but was unaware of the driver’s identity.

After the collision, police say a suspect drove the vehicle southbound on Saintsbury Line, before abandoning it and traveling by foot with another, unnamed, male occupant.

The OPP report says the individuals were later found, with police determining the driver had been drinking alcohol.

O’Reilly’s first court appearance — which he wasn’t required to attend — was on Aug. 20, at which time the decision was made to continue the case until Sept. 10, which is two days from now.

In discussing the incident, the former Lady Byng winner said he felt “horrible” about the situation and re-iterated his apology to Sabres fans — but he also left some ambiguity as to what actually happened on the night in question, and how it will be resolved.

“I’m not saying the outcome is set yet,” he said. “But just to be in a situation like that and have it come out the way it’s been spun, it is unfortunate.”