Bettman: 24/7 an Opportunity for “Hockey Fans and Sports Fans” to Get to Know NHLers
September 23, 2010 1 Comment
It’s clear that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman sees the debut of 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic as a huge coup for the league.
Speaking in a press conference with the NHL’s COO John Collins - who Bettman said was “responsible” for the idea – and HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg, Bettman said that 24/7 would be “an absolutely fantastic opportunities to bring hockey fans and, in fact, all sports fans an opportunity to see our players and see our game in ways that they’ve never been able to do it before and in ways that perhaps no fans of any sport have ever been able to do it before.” Greenburg added that allowing HBO cameras into a regular season sports locker room was “unprecedented access.”
What will the series provide an insight into? Greenburg promised to “bring you into the team meeting rooms, into the locker rooms, the planes on chartered flights, at home, everywhere these players, coaches, assistant coaches go during this four week stretch. That is at the heart what this 24/7 series is all about, to bring you, the viewer, access you’ve never been given before so you understand what it takes to be a professional athlete and compete at this high level.”
So … will the players adapt to HBO not having to abide by the FCC’s standards and practices for “foul language” on television too? Greenburg: “every once in a while you might hear a little salty language with a little Canadian or Russian flair to it.” How does Bettman – the commissioner who suspended Sean Avery for making a sex joke – reconcile this? He says that “If this is going to be authentic, it needs to be authentic and guys aren’t going to be scripted” but noted that “My guess is, before we air the first show, we see what we have, there will be the appropriate reviewing and critiquing and warnings of who should be watching it.” Greenburg added that HBO has total editorial control, though that won’t go as far as strategy and injuries.
Bettman and Greenburg both alluded to the fact that Heinz Feild’s conversion to set up for the Winter Classic will also be a part of the series “There’s a third team involved as we go to the run?up in the Winter Classic, that’s going to be the NHL crew that’s in the process of converting Heinz Field into a hockey rink. There probably will be some footage of the Steelers coming off the field and the crew immediately going on to begin the conversion that has to be done in record time to get A quality ice ready for a regular-season game.”
In the end, the show might not be as good if not for what Bettman called “both the Capitals and Penguins from the top down, ownership, president, managers, players, coaching staffs, have been across the board excited and supportive of this project”