Monday, January 2, 2012

So Much Love for HBO '24/7: Road to the Winter Classic'

I've been debating whether or not I should write a review of Season 2 of '24/7 Flyers/Ranger: Road to the Winter Classic' since everyone and their mother have written about it. I finally decided to write one because I actually haven't read any reviews for this season since I've been watching the episodes a day after they air and I don't want anyone to ruin my viewings (spoiler alert: THEY PLAY HOCKEY!). So I figure at least my review won't be tainted by anyone's views.

First of all, I think a disclaimer is in order: Despite my tendency to bitch and moan in detail about certain shows, I purely love everything about '24/7' and I just can't bring myself to critique the minutiae as other hockey fans may do and did with the first season of '24/7'. I am fully aware that I am watching these episodes through rose-colored glasses, which is why my opinion of the show may be so high.

There have been two big surprises for me after watching the first three episodes of 24/7 this year:

  1. Peter Laviolette is a total hard-ass and I had NO IDEA he was like this. Maybe it's because I first came to know of him when he was the coach of the Carolina Hurricanes and the team always seems like a family-friendly team. Or maybe it's because of the rumors swirling around dry island, which in my head made him seem like a family-friendly guy who wants a PG-rated locker room. Apparently, I WAS WAY OFF! He is so fucking intense and I love every single scene he's in.
  2. I've grown to actually "like" the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, which I didn't think was humanly possible. I don't mean "like" in the sense that I'll ever be rooting for them on a nightly basis, but rather in a way that I really enjoy watching them in this series, eagerly anticipating what new storylines will be introduced. Before the 2011-2012 NHL season started I was sorta dreading this year's '24/7' because I've never been a fan of either of these teams. I was only looking forward to seeing Torts fly off the handle and seeing confrontations between Avery and anybody (which by the way, hasn't really happened....very disappointed). But I think HBO does a great job of humanizing these guys and seeing them off the ice is more exciting to me than seeing them battle on the ice. I'm sure I'll go back to hating these teams as soon as they play the LA Kings, but for now, I really enjoy watching these two teams.

Here are my thoughts on some of the players and coaches who have been
featured on 24/7:

Wayne Simmonds
I shouted "SIMMONDS!!!!" every time Wayne Simmonds was featured.....that is, until he totally bitch-slapped Los Angeles when he said he's happy to have been traded to Philadelphia because it's a much better hockey town. 'Oh shut up, Wayne! Stop playing it up for the Philly fans!" (oh who am I kidding, I still love him.) But is it just me or has it seemed like he's tearing it up offensively with the Flyers? Well, shit, maybe Terry Murray really wasn't bringing out his full potential.

Ilya Bryzgalov
So......I think we can all agree that Ilya Bryzgalov is totally cray-cray. It's one thing to see short clips of him in post-game interviews, but it's an entirely different experience seeing him go off the deep end with his philosophical musings. I'm really interested to see how he's featured in the last episode since it was announced he's not playing in the Winter Classic.

Peter Laviolette
Despite the fact that's he completely different than I imagined, I still think he's so awesome! I loved how he handled the Steve Ott situation with the HBO crew by BLATANTLY DENYING knowing what they were asking him in regards to his altercation with Ott. He had to have known the crew had everything on audio, yet still acted like nothing happened while having a slight smirk on his face. I also got a kick out of his conversation with Scott Hartnell when he congratulated the forward for getting 200 goals, which were 200 more than he had. When Hartnell looked surprised that his coach never got any goals in the NHL, Laviolette admitted that he played 12 games in the NHL and got 0 points. Funny though that Laviolette didn't reveal to Hartnell that he played those 12 games with the New York Rangers.

John Tortorella
I definitely did not expect Torts to come off as the softer coach, but somehow he has. The storyline featuring his relationship with the kid who has cystic fibrosis was incredibly heart-warming. But he has still provided us with some awesome quotes. My favorite is the one where he yelled at Marion Gaborik on the bench asking him whether or not he was "going to stomp on the puck".

Jaromir Jagr
There's just something so surreal about seeing Jagr in '24/7'. Maybe it's because he's one of the few guys I grew up following who is still playing in the league. Or maybe it's because he's been out of the upper echelon of the NHL for quite some time, but is now back in the limelight. Or it could be this charm about him that is evident when he's being interviewed or conversing with his teammates. I'm sure there are hockey fans who want to throw daggers through their TV whenever he's featured, but I've never felt "betrayed" by his hockey decisions or actions, so I'm glad he's been featured.

Brian Boyle & Brandon Prust
I didn't know anything about Prust before the show and even wondered who he was at the beginning. I never really appreciated Brian Boyle's hockey skill set when he was with the LA Kings and I haven't been following his career with the Rangers, but his off-ice personality is hilarious! Maybe being from such a big family has something to do with his acting like a big kid. I about died when I saw him dressed as an elf. I think I would pay money to see him reenact the movie Elf.

Ryan Callahan
Good ol' American boy! Can't wait till the 2014 Olympics when he'll be leading USA to a gold medal! (Gary Bettman has to allow the NHL players to participate in the Olympics!! He just has to!!)

Brad Richards
I didn't expect to like Richards very much, but he seems to be a great teammate and leader. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him talk shit to Tom Sestito, telling him that playing in the NHL must be like "fantasy camp" for him. ZING!

There are other moments in the series that I really enjoyed such as, chirping between the players, chirping with the refs, seeing Marian Gaborik carry home a Christams tree, seeing Claude Giroux go through the concussion test, getting an inside look of the refs talking during intermission (and how sad is their "dressing room"! it looks like a large closet.), getting the audio of Laviolette & Ott's altercation, Ott telling Giroux to check for his faceoff stats, Callahan's super adorable grandmother, the look Avery gave Anisimov as he entered the Rangers locker room, every single one of Laviolette's conversations, and every single one of Torts' crazy, amped up, but motivational talks to his players.

I doubt the NHL takes the '24/7' show into consideration when they select the teams that will participate in the Winter Classic, but I hope in the next couple years to come, if HBO still does this show, that teams that haven't been on '24/7' are selected to participate so we can learn about more players and coaches. When I think about it, it does seem silly to use '24/7' as a deciding factor, but on one hand I can see the NHL viewing that '24/7' as a promotional tool and you want to feature as many players and new storylines as you possibly can. Of course I would love to see my LA Kings featured in '24/7', but I highly doubt the LA Kings will be asked to participate in the Winter Classic.  But if HBO can make the Rangers and Flyers likable, then I have no worries about future '24/7' series.


  1. I love the 24/7 series. I loved it last year, and I love it this year. As a hockey fan, all you really get to see on a regular basis is a player's on-ice skill, and occasionally a post game interview. I love how the series goes into their homes, talks to their families, follows them around the locker rooms. Torts talking about his relationship with the kid made me cry. He almost seemed shy about it, which was completely the opposite of how I pictured him. The series really makes watching the Winter Classic a lot more interesting. I hope someday they do a 24/7 on the Kings. Heaven.

  2. I enjoy hearing the audio on the ice, but I definitely agree that the stuff off the ice that we get access to is absolutely amazing. I wish the series was longer than 4 episodes. And can you imagine what it would be like if the series followed the teams through the playoffs? Shit would hit the fan!