Through three episodes, NBCSN's "NHL Revealed" has taken viewers inside and outside the locker room following the lives on and off the ice of NHL players. Thursday night's episode switches it up a bit as the cameras head to Sochi to focus on the last two weeks at the Olympic Games.
You'll see everything from Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry getting lost inside the athletes' village to the New York Islanders watching as John Tavares goes down with injury to the post-game celebration inside Team Canada's locker room after they won gold. It's all part of the storytelling that NHL COO John Collins and producer Ross Greenburg want to do to capture the heart and soul of the game and lure in the casual hockey fan further.
We spoke with Collins and Greenburg Wednesday afternoon about the challenge of filming during the Olympics, improving the outdoor game experience, the future of "NHL Revealed" and more.
Q. What kind of man power does it take to capture these events and present at a quality you want it at?
GREENBURG: It's pretty heavy manpower and it's a quick turnaround. We'll be shooting Saturday and Sunday and we'll be on the air with episode no. 6 on Wednesday night. We'll have about five cameras at each of the games. We'll have full crews and producers on-hand. We'll have to ingest all that material and then run into those edit rooms and cut it all together and weave stories in and out of all the players we've been following. Players like [Jonathan] Toews and [Patrick] Kane have already greed to be mic'd. We're looking to mic a couple of Penguins. We'll be in Vancouver heavily loaded and we'll treat these games as events in and of themselves as we've done in the previous shows to bring out the spectacle of these stadium games. They may not have the largess of a Winter Classic, but they feel big.
Q. There are two final outdoor games this weekend in Chicago and Vancouver. Before you begin to evaluate this season's multiple slate of games, what has been your impressions so far? Do you see areas of improvement for the future?
COLLINS: Of course. We learn as we go and we re-evaluate and adjust. But I think it's been great. Detroit was its own beast, and that was every thing you could ever hope for, wish for, expect, plan for. That was great. The difference between the Winter Classic and the Stadium Series, people are seeing them for what they are. It's important for us, generally, for people in LA and New York to experience these games for themselves. It's one thing to sit back and watch them on TV, but when you're there it's different. In LA we had the media and entertainment community come out for that game. It was a very different type of staging: outdoor hockey game with fans coming in in shorts and flip flops is a little unique and a little different, and I think a lot of fun and that was sort of the takeaway.
So, 55,000 people in Dodger Stadium for an outdoor hockey game under the stars. Pretty cool. And 100,000-plus in New York for two games at Yankee Stadium during Super Bowl week is pretty cool, too. I think it was important in New York for not only the people who were in for the Super Bowl, but the advertising and the marketing community, the media community here. A lot of them came to the events to see what we're doing, and to see how much fun it is and see how big in fact these events are.
Q. We've now had a game in a warm weather market in LA. This weekend, we'll have a game in an air-supported roof stadium at BC Place. Is there a next unique twist to these games that's been kicked around? Will we possibly see a neutral site game at a place like Notre Dame Stadium or Lambeau Field?
COLLINS: That's the fun part of all this. People always have opinions about what markets should get a game and how great the games could be there, what venues can you create the pond of dreams and then the neutral site. It's all fun. There's a lot of markets that have raised their hand and would like a game and should get a game. The game in LA opened it up a little bit in terms of the ability for Dan Craig and his guys to make NHL-quality ice in Southern California and have a pretty good experience. I think that'll give us a little bit of flexibility as we look at some of the other markets.
Q. With "NHL Revealed" being dubbed "A Season Like No Other" with the multiple outdoor games and Olympics being featured, is this a one-and-done deal or could we see something along these lines for next season?
COLLINS: The Stadium Series games and the Olympics gave us an opportunity to do this series. It created the ability to get the funding from our network partners and our advertisers and sponsors. It gave us the programming vision that ultimately the clubs and the players bought into. But as we look at it, and this goes back to my early days with NFL Films and Ross's career with HBO and all the work that was done between HBO and the NFL, when I was there we used to do 400 original hours of programming like this every season, and that was before the NFL Network. It had such a heavy hand in helping to shape the image for the National Football League and ultimately make it what it is today. I would hope that this season have given us the opportunity to show how amazing these athletes are, how great the game is and take that admiration and that passion for the game and just put it out on the screen for core fans and casual fans. Hopefully it will just become part of what we do, and we'll have an opportunity to do a lot more of this.
Q. With this week's episode focused solely on the Olympic tournament, what will the balance be between actual game footage and the player's off the ice?
GREENBURG: It's been kind of nice. We were really nervous that we weren't going to be able to get the access in Sochi at the Olympic Games because of obvious factors. But with some help, we were everywhere. We got access that basically blew us away. We were in practices, players being mic'd walking the village from venue to hotel, following them on their bikes, with all their families. We were everywhere we wanted to be. So the ratio of game coverage and off-ice coverage is very similar to the previous three episodes that we aired prior to Sochi. We were able to weave some very emotional stories, whether it's [Anze] Kopitar and his dad or Teemu Selanne's run for Finland, it became every emotional. These guys took great pride in representing their countries and we were there as they shared the emotion with their families and friends and loved ones. That really comes across in this two hours.
Q. There were also cameras inside Canada's locker room after they won gold. That's the kind of access fans love to see out of these programs. Teams button things up come playoff time, but could we ever see a 24/7- or Revealed-type show for a playoff series or even a Stanley Cup Final?
COLLINS: It certainly would be compelling. That's the best hockey. It would be amazing. You'd have to consider how to handle things like the issues that would occur in a seven-game series, whether it's injuries or players being dinged up or match-ups that are working or aren't working, changes in strategy. You'd have to adjust so that you're not exposing trade secrets, but it'd be the ultimate. Compared to the NFL, we're in the diaper stage still of the life cycle.
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