2012 Winter Classic

When you can watch HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic


In less than a week, a lot of hockey fans will mysteriously decide to order HBO for at least a month (and it won’t be for the latest edition of Def Comedy Jam). The reasoning is simple: NHL fans are dying to witness HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic.

If you’re one of those people, you might want an idea of when you can actually catch the first episode. HBO and the NHL released a useful guide of the viewing schedule for the first of the four-part series and a little information on when the other three will air.

Episode No. 1

Debut:  Wednesday, Dec. 14 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT)

Other HBO playdates:
Dec. 14 (11:00 p.m.)
Dec. 15 (5:45 p.m., midnight)
Dec. 16 (11:30 a.m., 8:00 p.m.)
Dec. 17 (10:00 a.m., 10:45 p.m.)
Dec. 18 (10:00 a.m.)
Dec. 19 (6:30 p.m., 2:55 a.m.)
Dec. 31 (10:00 a.m.)
Jan. 1 (9:00 a.m.)
Jan. 2 (6:45 a.m. and 1:55 a.m.)

HBO2 playdates:
Dec. 18 (11:00 p.m.)
Dec. 20 (8:00 p.m.)
Jan. 2 (8:00 a.m.)

(The first episode will be available On Demand starting on Dec. 19.)


The complete schedule isn’t available yet for the other three episodes, but here are the original air dates, according to HBO and the NHL:

Episode No. 2

Debut: Wednesday, Dec. 21 (10:00 pm); immediate encore at 11:00 pm

Episode No. 3

Debut: Wednesday, Dec. 28 (10:00 pm); immediate encore at 11:00 pm

Episode No. 4 (finale)

Debut: Thursday, Jan. 5 (10:00 pm); immediate encore at 11:00 pm

HBO joins Rangers for “24/7”

1 Comment

The New York Rangers bid their privacy good-bye today as HBO’s “24/7” cameras joined the team for the month-long lead-up to the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia.

Personally, I’d be a little uncomfortable with my every move at work being chronicled by cameras. Fortunately, that won’t ever be an issue, as I can’t imagine the ratings would be very good for “24/7: Road to the vending machine for a Coke Zero”.

But Rangers forward Brad Richards is cursed with a much more interesting life.

“I don’t want to use the word ‘annoying’ but it’s going to take some getting used to,” Richards said, as per ESPN. “Some guys will be different than others. Some will not pay attention and do their own thing and some will embrace it.”

Meanwhile, Brandon Prust might want to watch last year’s series to see how it works.

“I know I do a lot of swearing during the game, but I know they can edit that stuff,” he said.

If you haven’t seen the preview for this year’s “24/7” series, here you go:

Rangers prepare for their close-up on HBO’s 24/7

John Tortorella

Technically, the NHL still hasn’t officially announced this year’s Winter Classic on January 2nd between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark. Yet on Wednesday, the hockey world was given even more proof that the Rangers and Flyers will be participants in the league’s mid-season showcase as HBO’s cameras invaded Rangers practice. The network behind the critically acclaimed 24/7 series was on the scene to capture promotional footage for the mini-series that will air in the weeks leading up to the Winter Classic.

After learning all about the show last year, there are two major questions surrounding the series this season. First, from a competitive standpoint, how quickly will the players be able to ignore the omnipresent cameras. Newly acquired Rangers forward Mike Rupp experienced 24/7 with the Pittsburgh Penguins:

“It takes a couple of days to get used to it. They’re good guys. My experience is that they don’t have crews who are like, ‘We need our footage,’ and will do whatever it takes to get it. They’re easy-going guys who are sensitive to some of the different things we do.”

For both the Rangers and Flyers sake, they’ll hope to acclimate themselves to the cameras as quickly as possible and avoid any long losing streaks during the filming process. All they have to do is ask the Capitals to find out how brutal it can be to struggle on the ice—only to have the cameras around off the ice.

The second question surrounding the 24/7 series is much more interesting from an entertainment standpoint: who will be the breakout star? Last season Bruce Boudreau and his charming Haagen-Dazs eating ways endeared him to hockey fans all over North America. Or maybe it was his #$@*& language in the $#@#*&in’ locker room?

So who is the odds on favorite to replace Boudreau as the most entertaining hockey personality on HBO? Rangers forward Brandon Prust shares his thoughts on the important matter:

“We all have our No. 1 pick,” [Tortorella] He’ll definitely be No. 1. The man with the beard (coach John Tortorella), that will be interesting to see.”

Suddenly I have visions of John Tortorella and Larry Brooks dancing through my head. Forget the games, televising those two in postgame interviews could be more entertaining than following the 40 players on the ice. Then again, 24/7 promises to have the likes of Sean Avery, Chris Pronger, and Scott Hartnell mic’d up during games.

Either way, this should be good. And just as a reminder—as if Avery and Pronger aren’t enough, we could be treated to four weeks of the sheer genius of Ilya Bryzgalov.

Who are you looking forward seeing on 24/7 this season? Are you looking forward to the usual suspects we mentioned or is there another player who you think will steal the show? Let us know in the comments.

Bettman: Teams must take part in HBO 24/7 to play in Winter Classic

Gary Bettman

While fans wait patiently to see who will participate in the 2012 Winter Classic, it turns out today that there’s a new wrinkle thrown into the mix for teams hopeful of landing a spot in the annual New Year’s Day spectacle.

The Sports Business Journal reports that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman sat down with YES Network’s Michael Kay for an episode of “CenterStage” and when answering questions about the Winter Classic, Bettman said that teams hopeful of participating in the game must allow their locker rooms and players to be open (subscription required) to be a part of HBO’s 24/7.

“HBO Sports has told us they would like to do (‘24/7’) again and again and again.” Kay asked Bettman how he would handle a Winter Classic team that refused to allow film crews into the locker room. “If you’re not going to allow (‘24/7’), then you’re not going to be in the Winter Classic,” Bettman said.

It’s a bold step for Bettman to lay this stipulation down on teams as there are a few potential teams that have been less-than helpful in opening themselves up to the media in the past. For some teams, controlling the message that comes out is more important than openness and transparency with what goes on in daily operations.

Forcing those teams that might be on the fence about leaving themselves open to public interpretation of how things go on a day-to-day basis to make a choice of whether or not they want in on the annual event is a real “put up or shut up” move by the league, and it’s a smart one.

After all, if a team’s motivation for being in the Winter Classic is to just get a piece of the financial pie that results from the game, the least they can do is take part in a cable series that’s helped generate tremendous attention for the NHL and the Winter Classic itself. If a team is unwilling to shoulder the load of doing their part to generate publicity for the league then they serve no purpose in taking part in the game that’s become the beacon of attention for the NHL.

Many have been critical of Gary Bettman’s tactics in the past (yours truly especially) but when it’s come to the Winter Classic and now with HBO’s 24/7, they’ve got a really good thing going. Considering the heaping amount of positive feedback (and ratings) for the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, it just makes good business sense to lay things out like this and scare off anyone that might even be a bit apprehensive. Bettman has made it clear that many teams are clamoring to host or be involved in future Winter Classics and with HBO’s help, he’s got leverage to start figuring out which teams are willing to go all the way or not.

How HBO, NHL might top the first 24/7 series


To call HBO and the NHL’s 24/7 experiment a success is an understatement. For hardcore hockey fans, the mini-series was so outstanding that many people became genuinely emotional during the last episode’s final sequences.* Yet the biggest gains might have come in the impact it made on casual fans and those totally ignorant to pucks; all of a sudden a brand new audience – and a sophisticated one in that – learned about some of the most interesting people in sports.

The great news is that all signs point to another 24/7 series between HBO and the NHL. Yet as HBO president Ross Greenburg explains in a video at the bottom of this post, it will be tough to top the groundbreaking original series.

NHL executive John Collins already discussed the potential idea for HBO to follow two teams around during a playoff series, so I thought I’d pass along a few ideas/suggestions for a 24/7 sequel and solutions for possible problems.

Following a playoff series

Why it would be awesome: One thing that gave the Penguins/Capitals special some extra juice is the fact that the two teams really don’t like each other. Imagine the kind of vitriol that would develop during a grueling, high-pressure best-of-seven series? It’s OK, you can get excited about the idea.

How to make it work: Of course, the tough part is that teams go from secretive to Big Brother/CIA-level scarce with details during the playoffs. (Just wait for the vague “upper/lower torso” type injury reports we’ll be stuck with in April, May and June.)

My suggestion to (partially) solve that problem: air the footage after once the series concluded. Sure, that would hurt it a bit from a “timely” standpoint, but then teams could feel slightly less paranoid about information “leaking” via HBO’s cameras and microphones.

Follow a buzz-poor team during a full season

Why it would be awesome: It was hard not to get a little attached to Bruce Boudreau, Dan Bylsma and players such as Matt Hendricks (seen in a screen capture that is this post’s main image) during the 24/7 series, but it was just the tip of the iceberg since it followed only a month (or so) of play. Imagine how amazing it would be to follow a team during the course of an 82-game season?

Maybe an elite team like Pittsburgh or Washington would balk at the idea, but what about a team struggling to generate buzz like Florida, Phoenix, Dallas or Atlanta? The last two would be especially interesting because they have been successful during this season and employ colorful characters like Dustin Byfuglien and Steve Ott. HBO would gain a full season of access; the team would find an unusual way to drum interest in their squad.

How to make it work: Again, the team could request a slight delay on the footage or maybe enter into an injury-related gentleman’s agreement with the network.


OK, so those are two ideas worth considering for the future of the 24/7 series. How would you try to top that great Penguins/Capitals series? Let us know in the comments and enjoy Greenburg’s reflections on the special and its future.

* – Did I go into “trying not cry during sad movie” mode during the end of that episode? Maybe. (Crushes beer can on forehead to compensate for expression of feelings.)