A Wings Fan’s Thoughts on a Rainy Winter Classic & HBO’s 24/7

So the NHL’s big night just finished and as much as I think Gary is all-encompassingly incompetent as Commish, I have to admit, I really did enjoy the game.  The combo of 24/7′s lead-in with the Classic really made it mean just a little more than usual.  Except for the Wrigley game of course, I was most into this game. 

The rain didn’t seem to affect the players too much (and actually seemed to keep the ice smooth for parts of the third…sorta like a consistent Zamboni).  It was choppy at times, but it’s been different for every outdoor game so far and keeps it interesting. 

Sid was invisible for most of the night; OV stood out far more often.  Still it came down to a few stupid mistakes that cost Pittsburgh.  If you would have asked me whether a Bruce Boudreau or Dan Bylsma coached team would make more mistakes, I would have put down a crisp $100 that it would be Boudreau’s team 100 times out of a 100. Quite a surprise for me then. 

NBC’s coverage was pretty strong.  Milbury as usual seemed like an asshole at intermission, but he at least was an interesting asshole.  The Douche Canoe, aka Pierre Mcguire for those unaware of his real name, managed to: 1) invade everyone’s personal space; 2) think of the least interesting questions to ask; 3) and show his continued utter obsession and bewilderment with the natural occurrence of wind.  He did keep his Crosby love somewhat hidden during the game, but you could feel his concern when Sidney went down (ha) at the end of the second.  You have to wonder why networks continue to employ Mcguire rather than Darren Pang, someone who brings a lot of the same qualities to the table with near 100% less pedophileness. 

“Enzo” was worthless as usual, but Doc Emrick made up for the rest of the crew by giving us a great performance.  He’s truly fun to listen to announce a game. 

The camera angles were occasionally behind the play, but I like the arial view once in a while-the cameramen just needs to zoom in a little more for that NHL 11 feel. Generally the NBC crew helped to give the game that epic feeling that it probably had for those there in person.  For as much sh!t as we give NBC, we need to give credit where credit is due.  Good work. 

Now on to HBO’s 24/7

What a show.  As hockey fans, we are consistently insulted by ESPN’s and other mainstream media’s immature coverage of our great game.  These outlets manage to marginalize the game by ignoring its elegance and brilliance and focusing on the violence and controversy.  HBO, as they always seem to, make the other media outlets look like amateurs in 24/7′s display of the game.  

Much has been made of the swearing, the toughness of the players, the players’ family life and Boudreau’s love of all things food.  But this series shows what it really means to be a hockey player.  Every damn time they show the players heading onto the ice before the game, I get chills.  It brings me back to our college days.  It doesn’t matter that the Pens and Caps are going out in front of 20,000, while I headed out in front of 1,000.   The feeling is the same.  HBO brings that feeling back to those that have played. 

The show manages to really get everything right.  It does focus on #87 & #8, but not too much.  I hate Pittsburgh as much as the rest of you, but it really is awesome to see what goes on behind the scenes with Bylsma-someone who I’m immensely impressed with and Boudreau, someone I’m not. They’ve done a perfect job of giving us a well-rounded show showing us two hockey teams, not just two players.  That’s interesting to everyone and that’s a message that the NHL needs to learn from this. 

Now after that great game, I expect and am looking forward to an incredible finale to 24/7.  I hope this isn’t the last time we see one of these.  It’d be incredible to have this sort of access following around a team in the playoffs, the intensity would be triple what it seems like now.  

So all-in-all, I have to sum it with words which I’ve never really said before:  Great job NHL.  Keep it up. 

(Now back to our regularly scheduled programming where there will never be anything good said about Gary’s NHL, Pittsburgh, and the entire state of Illinois.)