Four Good and Four Bad Things HBO Can Do For the NHL

Its been kind of difficult to form a real opinion on 24/7 Penguins-Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. Not because I don’t care, because largely there’s not a real argument against it. I mean, so what if they make it all-Crosby/all-Ovechkin all the time? You’re getting an inside look at what could be the Gretzky and Lemieux of this generation in their prime. The NHL wishes it could’ve gained that kind of exposure back them. The Great One and Le Magnifique did not even appear on network TV until 1991!

In the end, this could be something that NHL TV nerds like myself point to as a turning point for the sport on the small screen. It could also be sort of a hot mess. Anywho, here’s a list of some things that can go right and some things that can go wrong.

Good

1. Shine a Light on the Personalities Beyond Ovechkin/Crosby

Look, we all know that Sid and Alex are the calling cards here. They are likely the only reason HBO even had interest in doing this in the first place. They can cite “Rivalry” all they want, but fact is, without these two, there really is no rivalry. Regardless, the Jets season of Hard Knocks focused on a ton of players that I didn’t really give a crap about, and turned them into intriguing, three-dimensional personalities. The power of HBO: Where even Mike Rupp can seem interesting!

2. Create More Interest in the Winter Classic

The Winter Classic didn’t quite take a step back last year, but it certainly didn’t go forward. The NHL now needs to create more of a hype machine around the event now that the initial thrill of “OMG! Hockey Outdoors in a [sport] stadium!” has worn off. This, along with a cycle of features on VERSUS and promotion on NBC, will create an unparalleled buzz for an NHL event that hasn’t been seen since the Glowing Puck.

3. Loosen the NHL Up

Doesn’t it feel like the NHL has a bit of a bug up it’s ass sometimes? Let’s have a little fun, show these guys as the twentysomething millionaires they are. Show a little bit of the nightlife that the single fellas are living. Obviously not to the point where were seeing things we shouldn’t be seeing NHL players do that isn’t being leaked by Deadspin … but let’s see Ovie dancing with some hot young socialites out in the DC nightlife.

4. Maxime Talbot, Unplugged

More of this:

Bad

1. Make it all about the Foul Language

In the wake of the flap between Rex Ryan and Tony Dungy about the fact that Rexy uses awful, dirty words that harm no one, unlike Dungy, who openly preaches anti-gay beliefs and tries to resuscitate the careers of dog murders, there will likely be a buzz of what will and won’t be uttered on TV by some of the players. I imagine it won’t be a big deal, and it shouldn’t be. I’d expect we hear some four-letter bombs from Bruce Boudreau. Just don’t turn this into all of that.

2. Make it all about Crosby/Ovechkin

For obvious reasons.

3. Make it all about Bruce Boudreau

Boudreau is an intriguing guy. He could very well be the Rex Ryan character in all this. But he works best in small doses, and one can tend to get tired of him. Make sure there isn’t an overdose of the man they call “Gabby”. Make sure you balance it out with some Disco Dan Bylsma, even if he may not seem anywhere near as interesting, or have a book out, or a ton of commercials out.

4. Try and Put Things in Terms of Other Major Sports

If there’s one thing hockey fans loathe, it’s when they’re condescended to and told – in an attempt to draw non-fans to hockey – about the way things go in hockey as a metaphor for like, football or something. Liev Schriber doesn’t need to tell me the Penguins are like [NFL team] or the Capitals Bruce Boudreau is like Rex Ryan or anything like that. Just don’t talk down to us, and show us some great footage, and we’ll be on good terms.

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About stevelepore
Steve Lepore is the Managing Editor of Puck the Media. His work has been featured in The Hockey News. Feel free to contact him at stevemlepore@gmail.com

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