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Videos: Sidney Crosby, Maxime Talbot and goons tease HBO’s 24/7

As we discussed last week, HBO released some snippets of its eagerly anticipated “24/7” take on the Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If you’re premium movie channel deprived like me (ugh, let me tell you, it’s pretty tough to miss out on Eastbound and Down and everything else that HBO has to offer), then you might not have gotten a chance to see the preview just yet.

The first actual episode will air on December 15 (apparently it is a four part series), but in the mean time, the network with the Midas touch is willing to tease us with video snippets from what should be a compelling documentary. NHL.com features a couple of the videos: one featuring Penguins golden boy Sidney Crosby and notable goofball Maxime Talbot while the other one focuses on each team’s head goon (DJ King for Washington; Eric Godard for Pittsburgh).

First, let’s check out the straightforward comments of Crosby and the lovable goober antics of Talbot.

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Now that you had a chance to check that out, let’s take a look into the often-fascinating world of puck-based pugilists Godard and King.

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Captivating stuff. From the looks of things, the only thing more entertaining than the documentaries will be the Winter Classic itself. We hope you’re excited too.

HBO’s preview of their 24/7 Winter Classic documentary will air Saturday

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HBO does plenty of things right. From great series like The Wire to boxing and comedy specials, the network almost seems like it has the Midas touch.

The NHL will receive its star treatment as part of the channel’s popular, Emmy-winning “24/7” series. Not too surprisingly, HBO chose to follow the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins around for the reality show/documentary as they prepared for the 2011 Winter Classic.

Hockey fans clamoring for any bits and pieces they can absorb from what should be a transfixing bit of video should be excited: HBO will tease puckheads with a 12-minute preview of the special this weekend.

It will first air 12:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, following a live boxing telecast. The actual documentary will premiere on Wednesday, December 15 at 10 pm ET. HBO will air replays of the previews frequently and it will also be available for those with On Demand packages. Here is the planned replay schedule of the preview, in case you cannot see it the first time.

HBO replay schedule:

Sat. Nov. 20 at 5:40 a.m.
Sun. Nov. 21 at 12:45 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 24 at 9:45 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 26 at 12 midnight
Sat. Nov. 27 at 1:15 p.m.
Mon. Dec. 6 at 3:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
Tue. Dec. 7 at 11:15 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 10 at 7:45 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 11 at 7:45 p.m. ET/6:15 p.m. PT
Sun. Dec. 12 at 11:00 a.m.
Mon. Dec. 13 at 6:15 p.m.
Tue. Dec 14 at 8:45 p.m.

HBO2 replay schedule:

Tue. Nov. 23 at 2:30 a.m.
Thur. Dec. 2 at 9:45 p.m. and 5:45 a.m.
Sat. Dec. 4 at 1:45 a.m.
Sun. Dec 12 at 9:45 p.m.

All times are ET/PT except where noted.

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)

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

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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.

Report: Rangers’ Kreider asks for $4.75 million in arbitration

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 02:  Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers in action against the New Jersey Devils during their game at the Prudential Center on February 2, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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The next big moves for the New York Rangers this summer are going to be dealing with restricted free agent forwards Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes. They both have arbitration hearings scheduled over the next week.

Kreider is first up on Friday, and on Wednesday we found out what the two sides are looking for going into it.

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, as well as NHL analyst Aaron Ward, Kreider submitted an ask of $4.75 million, while the Rangers countered with an offer of $3.2 million.

Assuming the two sides don’t reach a new deal before Friday and the case goes to arbitration it is likely that the number will fall right in the middle of those two figures, which would be somewhere in the neighborhood of around $4 million.

Kreider is coming off of a two-year contract that paid him $2.457 million per season. He scored 21 goals both seasons.

Kreider is still two years away from being eligible for unrestricted free agency, while Brooks reports the two sides are currently trying to negotiate a four-or five-year contract. Given his age and production, his value right now should probably be in the same neighborhood of Washington’s Marcus Johansson (who just signed a three-year, $13.75 million deal on Wednesday) and New Jersey’s Kyle Palmeiri (he signed a five-year deal worth $4.65 million per season earlier this summer).

Following the trade of Derrick Brassard earlier this week to the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers should have more than enough cap space to get Kreider and Hayes signed and still remain well under the NHL’s salary cap for the season.

The risk the Rangers would run is the same any other team has when it comes to a short-term contract with a young player just starting to enter what should be his peak years like Kreider currently is. If it gets to arbitration and he only ends up with a one-year deal, there is the chance he could come back with a breakthrough the season that significantly drives up his price.

According to Brooks, the the gap between Kreider’s ask on a long-term deal and the Rangers’ offer is $500,000 per year, which should be relatively easy to close.

No matter what the Rangers do with Kreider they are still going to be in a bit of a tough spot in the near future. Even though they have enough salary cap space in the short-term to keep everybody, it is still a team that has some flaws that need addressed.

Without making another major move they may not be able to adequately address them.