HBO said on Thursday that it won’t produce “24/7: The Road To The NHL Winter Classic” for the 2015 outdoor game featuring the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks. This ends a three-season partnership between the League and the cable network, which produced the four-episode series that brought viewers deeper inside their teams and players’ lives than anything previously attempted by the NHL. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ] “Everybody at HBO enjoyed working with the NHL and its teams on ‘24/7’ the past four years. It was an exciting endeavor and we’re very proud of the never-before-seen presentation of the world of hockey that ‘24/7’ was able to capture,” said Ray Stallone, a spokesman for HBO. “There was never an expectation that HBO would chronicle the lead-up to the Winter Classic every year. So we will not be involved with the NHL this season. We wish the NHL the very best and the door will always remain open.” There are few television innovations the NHL has been involved with that rival the game-changing impact of “24/7.” It was the first time the character of the players, the intensity of the game and the orchestral vulgarity of the sport were married in the same program. The first edition in 2011 featured the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, catapulting then-Caps coach Bruce Bourdreau to stardom with his profanity-laced tirades (and BBQ-sauce covered face). The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers followed in 2012, showcasing the unique brand of whimsy from goaltender and part-time cosmonaut Ilya Bryzgalov. The third edition of the show in 2014, featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, was considered a drop in quality – although that probably had more to do with the subjects involved than cracks in the format. The Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks were chosen for the 2015 Winter Classic, and immediately speculation about the next “24/7” began. Patrick Kane on pay cable? A return engagement for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin? Interest was growing. A report by Sports Business Journal in July quoted HBO Sports President Ken Hershman as saying, "We're having a series of meetings with the NHL discussing how we move forward on that project. … Hopefully, we'll have something to announce shortly." The announcement, alas, was that the NHL’s run on “HBO 24/7” would not continue this season. But will the reality show lead up to the Winter Classic appear elsewhere? The relationship between HBO and the NHL took a turn in 2011 when Ross Greenburg, the president of HBO Sports and creator of the “24/7” series, left the network to develop shows at his own production company. The NHL quickly partnered with him to create programming on NHL Network and on NBC Sports Network in the form of “NHL Revealed” , a show in the tradition of “24/7” that centered around the Sochi Olympics. The idea that the NHL would have a four-episode “24/7” of their own under the “NHL Revealed” banner isn’t an outlandish one. The question becomes how far they’d be willing to push the boundaries, considering how the appeal of “24/7” was in seeing and hearing the raw, seemingly uncensored coverage of the players on and off the ice. Would an “NHL Revealed” with bleeped out profanities have the same impact? Or does it come down what the cameras capture while filming? All we know is: Liev Schreiber for narrator or we riot … [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: It's time to join a league today! ]
Craig Custance of ESPN conducted a poll of the star players attending the League’s annual media days in New York this week: Who are the three players with whom you’d start an NHL franchise? To the surprise of no one, the 14 players in the survey indicated that Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was their preference, with Jonathan Toews a distant second. Here's the complete ranking; keep in mind Custance used a points-system assigned to the first, second and third names: 1. Sidney Crosby 2. Jonathan Toews 3. Shea Weber 4. Tuukka Rask 5. Steven Stamkos 6. Jamie Benn 7. Zdeno Chara 8. Zach Parise 9. Claude Giroux 10. Ryan Getzlaf 11. John Tavares 12. Erik Karlsson 13. Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price 14. Nathan MacKinnon First off, let’s note that these players had one goalie in their top 12, a reminder that not all great hockey players make terrific general managers. Benn was actually ranked first overall by Sidney Crosby. More amazing is that he’s not represented by Pat Brisson. But the real fun news here is that Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers is the only honest one of the bunch. Because were he to start a team, Giroux would go with a plucky upstart named … Claude Giroux. From ESPN.com Insider ($$): Giroux received one first-place vote -- from Claude Giroux. "I have to believe in myself, no?" Giroux asked. He made a good case for himself this past season, when he strapped the Flyers on his back and took them to the playoffs. In the past three seasons, Giroux has 227 points in 207 games. In 2013-14, on a team that wasn't the best possession team around, he finished with a Corsi for percentage of 53.5 percent, the highest of his career. As he matures, he continues to round out his game. "When you're a young player, you want to score goals and make some points, but at the end of the day you learn it's not about that," Giroux said. "It's playing the game the right way offensively, defensively. If you do that, that's how you win games." Granted, some of the players probably declined to select themselves based on principle. Others likely did it based on humility. Claude Giroux has no time for either concept, and you gotta love that hubris. Who else would continue to circulate Peter Laviolette’s legen -wait for it- dary claim that Claude Giroux is the best player in the world if not for Claude Giroux?