Tag: the next HBO 24/7

John Tortorella

Rangers and Flyers have a few more days before 24/7 insanity


The cameras have already popped up here and there for both the Rangers and the Flyers in anticipation of their 24/7 appearances. The cameras were around for their meeting last Saturday at Madison Square Garden. They were around for a day when HBO was putting together their 15 minute preview for the series. But starting Monday, they’ll be around 24 hours a day, seven days a week for four weeks.

What an appropriate title.

With that in mind, these are the last few days of peace for the Atlantic Division rivals. It’s the calm before the storm, if you will. The Flyers have a pair of games out West over the next couple of days while the Rangers have a single game left before the cameras move in for good. Then again, with Toronto in town on Monday, the cameras around every corner should make the Rangers feel like it’s just another game against the Maple Leafs.

With the Pens and Caps serving as guinea pigs last season, both the Flyers and Rangers have a better idea what to expect this time around with the omnipresent cameras. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma explained that it was especially tough when the cameras were around after a defeat. “The tough part is after you’ve lost a game and they’re there. We saw that last year. I felt it when we lost in the Winter Classic game — you feel the scrutiny with the cameras there.”

It’s not just the players and coaches that learned from the experience last season. The HBO producers shared that filming during the NHL’s regular season was a different animal than some of the other sports they had previously tackled. Dave Harmon from HBO talked to TSN about the differences:

“One of the things we learned while shooting it last year is ‘Oh my God the intensity level is so different. We know now how serious it is shooting with teams in the regular season as opposed to boxing, when they’re in training camp, or NASCAR, when they’re just getting ready for the Daytona 500. Right from the start it’s ‘Stay out of their way, this is their profession, this is their business. Just be flies on the wall observing.”‘

Here’s a little bit of advice: be a very quiet, unnoticed fly when observing John Tortorella. Rumor has it he has a tendency to be rather “honest” when the cameras are around and he’s annoyed after a loss. Come to think of it, he’s pretty honest all the time.

Can you imagine the television gold that could ensue after a Flyers victory over the Rangers when the two teams meet on December 23? The countdown has begun.

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.)