September 23, 2010
Having talked to the Washington Capitals, HBO executives, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and a few others today, a few thoughts and news bits about the four-week "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road To The NHL Winter Classic" series debuting in December.
• As we thought, the partnership was born from the outstanding match between the NHL and HBO on the "Broad Street Bullies" documentary.
• It will be uncensored. No bleeps. No voice-overs swapping out an expletive for "fudge." Finally, after 33 years, the NHL has embraced the "Slap Shot" aesthetic. "Bulletin to the American public: People curse," said Ross Greenburg of HBO, adding that profanities are never included simply for "shock value."
• Greenburg said the production team will "abide by" the requests from the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals not to film during any "strategic" meetings that would put them at a competitive disadvantage. But HBO will have total editorial control over "24/7." (Hopefully this doesn't mean the teams will shut out the cameras by having more "strategic meetings" than the Pentagon.)
• I asked Bettman about fan backlash over overexposure of the Alex Ovechkin(notes) vs. Sidney Crosby(notes) rivalry. It's something I don't believe hinders the NHL's ability to market the rivalry or score huge ratings with it; but there's certainly a "what about the rest of the League?" frustration among a vocal minority of fans. Does Bettman, and will the show, take that under consideration? Here's Bettman:
"I actually think you wrote that today, and I'm not a big fan necessarily of self-fulfilling prophecies. I don't think it's been overdone. I think it's a fascinating, interesting story. People also wrote when they both got eliminated from the playoffs last year [that] we were done. And then we went on and had perhaps the most successful Stanley Cup Final that we've ever had. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I happen to not share yours."
Greenburg then said that this will not be the "Alex Ovechkin/Sidney Crosby show," that they'll not focus the show on just two players because "that would be moronic." (Listening, NBC?)
• Finally, here's a Puck Daddy Mini-Doc about the expectations for the "Penguins/Capitals 24/7" show, from the D.C. side of the rivalry. It features Capitals players like Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green(notes); HBO producer Scott Boggins; Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau; and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.