Tag: HBO


Sounds like Dan Girardi will be the “24/7” breakout star


HBO’s 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic debuts tomorrow night and based on early reviews from his teammates, New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi could be in line for an Emmy.

“I think he’s first star, for sure,” said Michael Del Zotto, Girardi’s dressing room neighbor. “I think ‘G’ gets the Broadway hat for HBO.”

[Note: The Broadway Hat is a black fedora the Rangers brought back from the NHL Premiere series in Europe, awarded to the standout performer after every victory. It’s kind of like the hard hat Washington awarded last season…only less red. And hard. That’s what she said.]

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist also picked Girardi to be a breakout star.

“If I had to pick one guy to follow, he’s it,” Lundqvist said. “I don’t know how many interesting things he does, but he says a lot of funny things.”

Girardi acknowledged he could be 24/7’s scene stealer.

“I like to do drive-by chirps and little comments here and there, just to keep guys honest,” Girardi told the New York Daily News. “I don’t know how much [fans] are going to see of that. I don’t know how much is clean and how much is dirty, so I don’t know how the hell that’s gonna go.

“But it’s just part of who I am. I get that from my dad – he’s the king of one-liners at home. I had to keep it going in the family.”

Add Girardi to the list of compelling characters. Aside from the obvious guys — Sean Avery, Chris Pronger, John Tortorella, Ilya Bryzgalov — you’ve also got stories that came out of nowhere, like Artem “Shooter” Anisimov and Brandon Prust, who’s suddenly one of the NHL’s most active fighters. (Which I’m sure has nothing to do with HBO cameras being present. Nothing at all…)

You’ve also got the rambunctious Philly youngsters (Zac Rinaldo, Wayne Simmonds), the emergence of Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr’s stirring comeback season, the Marc Staal situation and the Brandon Dubinsky-Jody Shelley war of words.

In conclusion, I am looking forward to tomorrow night.

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

2012 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

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.

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.)

Perception vs. Reality and Crosby vs. Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby

When people think of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, two wildly disparate images come to mind. One is of the handsome, bland choir boy who speaks in cliches whether he just won the Cup or scored a gold medal winning goal. Some say the other guy looks like a caveman, parties like a Russian hockey playing Keith Richards and shoots fire balls at goalies like he’s Ken from Street Fighter II.*

Of course, a lot of those two descriptions are based on broad media brushstrokes founded on scant encounters and public appearances. Some might say that modern athletes keep the media (and the public) at arm’s length, but that description isn’t sufficient. After all, to be at arm’s length requires you to be in the same room as another person. Very few media types have gotten that close to Crosby and Ovechkin for any reasonable duration of time.

That’s why HBO’s unprecedented access during its 24/7 series has been so illuminating, yet the brief glimpses ultimately only give us more questions. Now I cannot claim intimate knowledge just because I own an HBO subscription, but allow me to quickly study a few ways the two players break their often self-imposed stereotypes.

Sidney Crosby: One of the boys?

Remember when everyone thought Tiger Woods was practically a golf ball launching robot who only seemed like he wanted to chase Jack Nicklaus on the courses … yet now it seems apparent he was chasing Wilt Chamberlain too? Well, I don’t think that Crosby has the same Batman/Bruce Wayne double life as Woods, but he has more personality than expected.

Now, he still can be as bland as a rice cake at times, but I think HBO revealed that Crosby fits in pretty well with his teammates and displays some sense of humor. There were great moments during the team’s plane trips in which Crosby was playing PSP games with his teammates and cutting it up, but one of the most interesting moments involved him discussing his much-ridiculed fight with Matt Niskanen.

Does this mean that Crosby might be a party animal, deep down? No, I doubt that. Instead I think he’s a pretty normal guy whose blind devotion to hockey means that he won’t be caught with Russian (or Canadian) co-eds left and right like the Magic Johnson to his Larry Bird.

(Or does Crosby=Magic and Ovechkin=Bird instead? We could debate that for ages – and I would enjoy that.)

Alex Ovechkin: momma’s boy?

Conversely, the image attached to Ovechkin is that of a party animal who lavishes himself with fast women and fast cars. While that persona might be an element of Ovechkin’s personality, it doesn’t provide the whole picture.

There’s one thing about both Crosby and Ovechkin that people forget because of their absurd success and talents: they’re both still kids. Crosby is only 23 years old and Ovechkin is 25. If they remain healthy, each player should have at least 10 more years to write their career narratives.

HBO revealed just how much of a kid Ovechkin can be by showing him at home, eating his parents’ food and playing video games. Now, some noted that his parents aren’t always there, but this clip illustrates the fact that he isn’t just a wild millionaire athlete but also a young adult still growing up. This makes him just like his rival, a person who can still reasonably be called “Sid the Kid.”

* – My memory/actual knowledge of Capcom’s fighting game mythology is hazy, but I believe that Ken was more of a party animal than Ryu. If nothing else, he had blond hair and seemed more stylish in his red dogi.