Hard Knocks NHL style is finally taking place! On Thursday of this week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman et all announced that for the first time the NHL will be going uncensored. Teaming up with HBO, the NHL realizes that the success of the football series Hard Knocks can work for them as well.
The four part series will take a look into the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals as both teams head into this year’s Winter Classic on New Year’s day. Well as if we don’t have enough of Sid being shoved down our throats, and Alex as well for that matter, this should help take the NHL fan base to new heights. Everything related to sports documentary that HBO touches turns into gold. Their documentary of the 1980 Miracle On Ice team as well as this past year’s production of The Broad Street Bullies were both excellent pieces.
NHL, reality T.V., and “salty language”. Perfect if you ask me. I personally love all the behind the scenes action. Watching what players do before and after games. How they prepare, wind down, and interact in their real lives is something that’s very intriguing to me. It is expected that this show will be about as real as you can get, with hopefully very limited editing.
The first episode will air December 15th approximately two weeks before the Winter Classic. The two teams play each other twice during this time span and the first episode will focus on the first match up as well as preparation for the second game. This will be the first time that HBO has done a series like this during the regular season, as all the previous Hard Knocks shows with the NFL have been during the preseason. Our own Eugene Markman from Broad Street Buzz was fortunate enough to be on the conference call Thursday as the announcement was made, among other items the NHL is planning.
The main focus of the show will not be all about Sid and Alex! Thank goodness. I’ve personally had about enough of that. The show however is for the fans. Giving insight to places we never or almost never go. It’s about the NHL’s forward thinking and making the game more appealing to fans of all types. The NHL is beginning to realize that marketing is a huge part of building it’s fan base and the more exposure it gets, the better it is. By pouncing on the success of the recent Winter Classics and the tremendous ratings that last year’s Stanley Cup Final gathered, this is the right time.
Since it is during the season, will it be a distraction? Our Pittsburgh Penguins writer Bill Mayer wrote on his site Pens Labyrinth Friday that it may be. I might have to agree, but the players on both sides of this are going to have to stay focused and concentrate. If the Pens slip a bit, I won’t be complaining. However in fairness, at least it’s not something that’s being done during March when playoff positioning is on the line.
I’m looking forward to the episodes and pleased to see the NHL advancing the game this way. Take some lessons from football and HBO Gary. Football’s popular for a reason. Not just because there’s only one game a week. But the game is marketed right. Exposure everywhere, and every chance they get.
We have great sport. It’s probably the most exciting of the four major ones. Let’s use this HBO mini series to show the world how great an adventure hockey really is.
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