With the Chicago Bulls’ “The Last Dance” documentary all the rage, what NHL story would you like to see made into a multi-part documentary?
SEAN: It’s not the sexiest of topics, but I’ve been pining for someone to do a documentary on Russ Conway’s great book, “Game Misconduct: Alan Eagleson and the Corruption of Hockey.” It is an incredible read about how one man, so powerful in the hockey world, stole so much from the players he was supposed to be assisting.
Imagine in 2020 the head of a players’ association, who was also an agent and power broker in the sport, scamming union members. The investigative work of Conway, who passed away in August, earned him a Pulitzer nomination and brought down Eagleson.
Bobby Orr, Rick Middleton, Brad Park were among those affected by Eagleson’s deeds. All it took to set Conway off on his investigation were complaints about the former union boss at a reunion of the Bruins’ 1970 Stanley Cup team.
“All I’ve done is connect the dots,” Conway told Michael Farber in 1996.
JAMES: The key isn’t just to find an interesting subject. It’s also to unearth something you can milk for 10 episodes. (OK, I imagine the MJ thing will get pretty granular. Are they going to roll out a timeline for zany Rodman hair colors and styles? Actually … that sounds great.)
To me, the clear answer is the Yzerman (player, not GM) era of the Red Wings. That run could provide a ton of fodder:
• Russian players making the (sometimes dangerous) jump to America. Really, you could cover multiple episodes on the team’s innovative international flair. Hakan Andersson deserves his own episode.
• You could have a trap episode revolving around the 1995 Devils upsetting the Red Wings. I’d even be willing to serve as a talking head who’d just complain endlessly about the trap. (Seriously it is/was the worst.)
• The Avalanche – Red Wings feud was nasty, memorable, and fun. Which Bad Boy Pistons/Pat Reilly Era Knicks would parallel which Avalanche, though? Claude Lemieux’s definitely Bill Laimbeer.
• Naturally, there’s plenty of material in the Red Wings’ many successes, from the titles to that lengthy run of playoff appearances. The letter could also give you more leeway to squeeze in some Mike Babcock drama.
• Like the Jordan era Bulls, the Red Wings’ glorious run didn’t really happen that long ago, but … hey, why not, right?
Honestly, I’m probably only hitting some of the high spots. Now I want the Red Wings to get their own indulgent docuseries.
ADAM: Just for my own entertainment, I want to see a documentary that focusses on some of the all-time great “tank” jobs in NHL history. Unfiltered, brutal honesty, an in-depth look at what was happening in Pittsburgh in 1983-84 when they new Mario Lemieux was lurking. I want to know what happened with the Ottawa Senators leading up to the Alexandre Daigle draft that ultimately brought us the draft lottery. Then, of course, the greatest tank job in recent memory: The Buffalo Sabres quest for Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel that had fans in the arena actively cheering AGAINST the team. Obviously the players on the ice are competing. That is how they are wired, what they are trained to do, and what they take pride in doing. But the front office always has a far more long-term goal. Give me the dirt! Who was doing what to put their team in a position to lose!
Think it would also be worth seeing a behind the scenes look at Vegas’ expansion draft process, how they incited panic among several teams and forced them into giving up way more assets and better players than they needed to.
That initial Vegas season (as well as the seasons since) was so improbable, so unexpected, so unbelievable, and so amazing that a deep look into that would be fascinating. The trade discussions, the initial strategy, and maybe the players they passed on in the expansion draft would be interesting to see.
JOEY: I’d love to see a 10-part documentary on the Washington Capitals. A documentary with the Caps would feature some great personalities (by hockey standards) like Alex Ovechkin, Bruce Boudreau, Tom Wilson and many others. Now that they’ve won a Stanley Cup, it’s easy to forget that they went through all those great regular seasons followed by playoff heartbreaks.
Think about it: You can start with the Capitals being swept in the 1998 Stanley Cup Final against Detroit. You can do a quick recap of the pre-Ovechkin years, followed by them drafting Ovechkin. You can then go through them blowing a 3-1 series lead to the eight seed, the Montreal Canadiens, in the 2010 Playoffs and you can build up your documentary with each playoff failure after that. Getting an in-depth look at all those battles between Washington and Pittsburgh would be special. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin vs. Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. That’s must-see TV!
The director can also tackle the “is Ovechkin finished?” storyline after he scored “just” 33 goals during the 2016-17 season.
You can build up the drama throughout their run to the Stanley Cup. They were down 2-0 in the first round to Columbus when Lars Eller scored the game-winner in Game 3. There’s more drama right there.
And then the pay-off to the whole thing could be a behind-the-scenes look at how the Capitals partied after they won it all.
I’d definitely watch that.
SCOTT: I wish there was more to the Jalen Ramsey story and we could explore how he faired in his experiment learning the game of hockey in six months.
But on a serious note, I would be very interested in seeing a 10-part documentary on the construction of the Vegas Golden Knights and how they reached the Stanley Cup Final in their first season of operation.
The topic is still pretty recent, but assuming this show wouldn’t come out for a few years. I’d be interested to see interviewes with George McPhee during the scouting process and how he identified talent that fit together so perfectly. It is not often a general manager has a chance to build a roster from scratch and learning about thought process would be a captivating tale.
It would be fascinating to get a behind the scenes look at the process they used to rank NHL talent in the seasons prior to the expansion draft while balancing their ability to prepare for the 2017 NHL Draft.
The season had a few storylines as well, and could make up the last few episodes, but the majority of the documentary should focus on the construction of the roster.
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