It’s not cable: Panthers remain HBO-friendly, beat Leafs


When a team makes a breakthrough, people will occasionally say that a squad is “ready for primetime.” As it turns out, the Florida Panthers might just be too hot for basic cable.

The Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Tuesday, helping them generate a truly unusual run of great play while HBO’s cameras have been around filming 24/7. The team’s Twitter feed made the most of such successes:

Nicely done.

The Panthers are now on a four-game winning streak and have won six of their last seven games, so teams should take them seriously going forward.

The mood wasn’t very jokey in the Maple Leafs locker room, as Mason Raymond and head coach Randy Carlyle told the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno.

“We simply got embarrassed,” Raymond said.

“We tried to play shinny against an NHL hockey club,” Carlyle said.

It will be a while before Trevor Smith can help Toronto shake out of its stupor, as Carlyle told Whyno that he broke a bone in his hand.

HBO 24/7 to start on Dec. 14, Canadians to be protected from F-bombs


The good news for hockey fans is that we’re now just 51 days away from the debut episode of HBO 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic.

The bad news is reserved for Canadian TV subscribers that like swearing and uninterrupted programming.

On Thursday, the NHL and HBO announced they’re joining forces with Sportsnet to air the highly-popular show in Canada this year. Previously, the show was only available in Canada through HBO Canada, which had roughly 1.1 million subscribers — a small number compared to Sportsnet, which has 8.8 million.

But while Sportsnet will be bringing 24/7 into more Canadian homes than ever, it won’t be bringing the swears.

“We’re not going to sanitize it at all,” Rogers Media broadcasting president Scott Moore told The Globe and Mail. “With one exception – we will bleep out the f-bombs.

“We won’t edit anything else out or sanitize it, because viewers these days are used to that type of thing.”

There will be two other significant differences between the HBO and Rogers broadcasts. One, HBO will broadcast the debut episode on Dec. 14, whereas Sportsnet will air it on Dec. 15.

Two, Canadians will get advertisements!

Here’s more, from the Globe:

There will be one other difference – the series will feature advertising for the first time. Sportsnet said it sold out the series quickly, with Molson Canadian, Tim Hortons, Recharge with Milk and Ford F-150 signing on as title sponsors.

Americans will still see the show on HBO, with plenty of swearing and no commercials. That channel isn’t available in Canada – HBO Canada does not own the broadcast rights.

I think Molson and Tim Hortons signed on just to keep every imaginable Canadian stereotype alive. All that’s missing is a sponsorship from Politeness.

Leafs don’t think HBO cameras will be too big a distraction

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs

From head coach Randy Carlyle to young forward Nazem Kadri, the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday were downplaying the potential negative effects of their participation in HBO’s “24/7” series during the month-long run-up to the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.

Said Carlyle of the challenge for his players as HBO’s cameras invade the dressing room and their everyday lives, per the National Post: “Well, they’re going to live like I do now. I have you guys in my face all the time. They’re going to have to live a little more like that. Obviously it’s a challenge to get used to but I don’t think it’s that drastic.”

Similarly, hhere’s Kadri, on the constant presence of the cameras: “You guys are around all the time, so we’ve gotten pretty used to it. I don’t think anyone is going to be pretty distracted by it.”

But at least one columnist, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, thinks it’s a terrible idea for the Leafs, who already have a big spotlight on them.

Writes Grange: “There’s no doubt the whole thing could be fun, but the Leafs don’t need fun. They need focus. They need winning. When your team is a season-long, decades-long, minute-by-minute storyline, you don’t need more storylines.”

Video: Kopecky gets in punch-up with his neighbor, Vokoun


Pretty amusing scene in Florida last night during the Panthers’ 6-4 win over Pittsburgh — early in the second period, Florida forward Tomas Kopecky scored his second of three goals on the night, setting off this melee with Pens goalie Tomas Vokoun:

Both got roughing penalties on the play (Kopecky actually got a double-minor) and Vokoun was yanked about five minutes later.

It made for a wild sequence of events, one the pair can discuss over lemonade some time.

Wait, what?

To explain, here’s George Richards of the Miami Herald:

Soon after Kopecky scored his second goal, Vokoun took offense to his skating partner — and west Broward neighbor — from the lockout days in Pompano Beach making contact in front of the net.

With Kopecky on the ice, Vokoun threw a few punches. The scrum moved to the corner where Vokoun again tossed some jabs. Florida, up 2-1 at the time, had to go on the penalty kill as Kopecky was given two minor penalties to Vokoun’s one.

“Brooks Orpik crashed into me from behind, and I lost my balance. I bumped into him,” Kopecky said. “Then all I see is his big blocker [glove] coming at me. Obviously, I’ll take punches and pay the price, but not cheap shots. I kept pushing him.

“He’s my neighbor, I’ve gotten to know he his family pretty good. But he didn’t hold back. I’m not going to either.”

There appears to be no truth to the rumor that, following the game, Kopecky took his dog for a walk in Vokoun’s yard.

Update: Richards reports the two exchanged text messages last night, and all is well.

Detroit’s Howard will miss HBO’s 24/7, but his European teammates might not

Jimmy Howard

With the Winter Classic now canceled, Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard says he’s going to miss the opportunity to appear on HBO’s 24/7.

But some of his teammates might be breathing a sigh of relief.

Howard told that Detroit’s European contingent is less than thrilled when television cameras enter the dressing room.

“I was curious to see how guys were going to react with the cameras all around, considering how many Europeans we have,” Howard explained. “After games they’re sort of like water bugs, the way they just run out of the room.

“I was curious to see how all the guys would be reacting when there’s cameras everywhere.”

Of the 25 players on Detroit’s active roster, 48 percent are of European heritage:

Damien Brunner (Switzerland), Jonathan Ericsson (Sweden), Pavel Datsyuk (Russia), Niklas Kronwall (Sweden), Valtteri Filppula (Finland), Johan Franzen (Sweden), Jan Mursak (Slovenia), Gustav Nyqvist (Sweden), Jakub Kindl (Czech Republic), Mikael Samuelsson (Sweden), Henrik Zetterberg (Sweden) and Jonas Gustavsson (Sweden).

As for who would’ve been HBO’s go-to for soundbites?

I’m suggesting defenseman Ian White, based largely on Gare Joyce’s book, Future Greats and Heartbreaks, A Year Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts.

The book contains the following story from Brady Leavold, a teammate of White’s in WHL Swift Current:

“Ian White was the big player when I came here. He’d been drafted by the Leafs and he had gone to the world juniors. He was just going to do things his way.

“In training camp we were supposed to show up for fitness testing in the weight room at the rink, and we were all there in our gym stuff. [White] shows up in jeans and a cowboy hat. He didn’t even take it off when he had to do the bench [press]. He did one rep and put the bar back on the rack and said, ‘That’s all I feel like today.’

“He gave it to the rookies, too. I was scared [expletive]-less. On the bus, I was afraid to even look around my first season. I sat near the front — all the veterans were in the back — and one time when I turned around, White saw me and said, ‘What the [expletive] are you lookin’ at?

“After that I didn’t look back the rest of the season.”

Sounds like a real character!