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More HBO 24/7: episode 1 reactions

Last night/this morning did my best to sum up my take as well as the media's takes on the Red Wings and Maple Leafs' HBO 24/7 debut last night--the episode airs in Canada at 7:30 PM EST tonight on Sportsnet, and as MLive's Brendan Savage notes, it's going to air on HBO again...

Sunday; 5:30 p.m. Monday; 2:25 a.m., 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday; 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. Wednesday; midnight Thursday; 11:45 p.m. Friday; and 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 21.

It will also air on HBO2 at midnight Sunday; 9 p.m. Friday; and 11:30 a.m. Dec. 30.

And as the episode is totally not uploaded to YouTube (warning: there are totally swear words for those of you who find an f-bomb or five offensive) or available for viewing (wink wink nudge nudge), RedWingsFeed found that the Toronto Star's Damien Cox gave episode 1 a ho-hum review before listing the "Toronto scenes that matter"...

If you’re tuning into HBO’s 24-7 “Road to the Winter Classic” on the Maple Leafs and Red Wings on Sunday night, and looking for hardcore language and views of the harder edges of hockey life, then change the channel.

The two teams, having allowed the U.S. network a no-holds-barred look at their inner sanctums, come away as regular guys in the first of two parts HBO aired in the U.S. on Saturday night.

Part 2 is scheduled for Dec. 21 — with the game itself going Jan. 1. Part one airs in Canada on Sunday night on SportsNet (7:30 p.m. ET), and what hockey mad viewers will get out of the Leafs portion of the hour-long is a narrative that has already played out on the sports pages and newscasts this past week.

That’s the pattern that the HBO specials have followed the past two years, and it’s the daily drama — things like footage of wins and losses, and players recovering from injury — that paces this show.

Yes, there’s some juicy stuff: we’re afforded a view of some of Randy Carlyle’s between-period messages, and those of Detroit coach Mike Babcock. A Joffrey Lupul fight in Wednesday’s game against Los Angeles is particularly riddled with coarse language, but that’s expected.

Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus weighed in with "favorite moments" from a Detroit perspective...

  • As a way to keep the team loose, head coach Mike Babcock has a different player announce the starting lineup with whatever embellishments he feels necessary. Tomas Tatar took his turn before the home game against Florida and joked that defenseman Jonathan Ericsson was recently named by GQ as the best looking athlete in the U.S. before announcing his name.
  • On a personal note, I made an appearance after Babcock’s media scrum following the Red Wings loss at home to Florida. That was cool.
  • Daniel Alfredsson decorating for Christmas with his wife and kids at the family’s new home in Birmingham, Mich., and then taking his kids to skate at Joe Louis Arena.


  • While out to dinner with Kyle Quincey, Darren Helm, Brendan Smith and Justin Abdelkader at a seafood restaurant a few miles from their Florida hotel room, rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser asked how the ribs were, which his teammates certainly gave him a hard time about.
  • Also at the dinner, the players discussed their concern over whether Pavel Datsyuk would play in the next game, emphasizing how much No. 13 means to the team off the ice, as well. That came just before somebody at the bar offered to buy them shots of Jose Cuervo.

And I will quote Kyle Quincey: "Tell him we won't do shots but we'll do fish tacos."

  • It’s universally accepted that goaltenders are weird. In preparing for the game in Florida and even during intermission, Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard could be seen in his stall with his eyes closed, almost dancing with his shoulders and hands.

Making pretend glove and blocker saves, folks, per CBS Sports' Chris Peters:

And finally, Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski gave the episode the traditional, "THIS...IS...DRAMA!" exhaustive (and exhausting, cynical and downright whiny) review, and of course he's not skeptical about the Wings being straight shooters at all.

The Detroit Red Wings seem nice.

That’s one of those compliments you pay when you’re at a loss to say anything else. They were just there in Episode 1 of “HBO 24/7 Red Wings Maple Leafs: Road To The NHL Winter Classic.” (Hell of a Scrabble score, that title.) It’s the most milquetoast group of players the producers have had to edit around, and you can feel them scrambling to find any connective thread or compelling narrative from the Red Wings, to the point where they resorted to clichés about Detroit’s bankruptcy to fill in this emotional blank.

In contrast, the scenes in Episode 1 that feature the Toronto Maple Leafs feel very HBO: Big stars doing interesting things, big personalities featured in compelling segments and Randy Carlyle dropping F-bombs.

One team comes off natural and unguarded. The other team was the Detroit Red Wings.

Oh, he continues...

We transition from cliché to cliché, as the “dreaming the impossible” children leave and the “heroes of a bankrupt city” theme is introduced for Detroit. A children’s choir sings “The Star Spangled Banner.” Bane shows up and blows up the Joe. (Just kidding, it was actually Mike Ilitch, to help speed the new arena construction.)

And continues...

[Y]ou know what makes us care about a player? Adorable kids. Enter the Daniel Alfredsson segment, and his three boys skating at the Joe. (He also brings up his departure from Ottawa, which apparently didn’t involve any financial disputes whatsoever. Uh-huh. Yup.)

There’s a great shot here that reminds you why “24/7” is just a little bit better than what you’ll see elsewhere: Daniel Alfredsson skating in the Joe as a dad one second and in his Detroit uniform the next. Like an ordinary father becoming a superhero at night.

And continues, not having met Babcock's Death Stare in person...

Did you know Mike Babcock jogs around the concourse of the Joe after practices? The more they show this guy, the more he seems like that high school gym teacher that you loved, constantly lived in fear of and that wore impossibly tiny shorts.

And at least he posted the hilarious dinner scene, which was indeed painfully staged--but still cute as the guys gush over the Magic Man:

Wyshynski's title for the clip? "Red Wings boring conversation on 24/7."

Because this is all about the Bryzgalovs and sensationalism and finding out how mean and nasty and tinfoil-hat-wearing-jerks the Wings are, right?

I appreciate the hell out of Puck Daddy's efforts to promote 24/7, but the, "UGH, UGH, UGH, THIS ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH, GOD THE WINGS ARE BORING" angle take doesn't just summarize an episode that I will readily admit was almost all Liev Schreiber narrating context-setting scenes that "told" a narrative instead of "showing" the narrative through action and the players and coaches being allowed to star...

It sets up a level of cynicism toward the phenomenon that I rather desperately hope that you don't take when you watch the episode, because it wasn't great, but I would argue that it's refreshing to see and hear Niklas Kronwall earnestly gush about the Joe's heritage, to see and hear Babcock give his players all of a minute's worth of chat in the intermissions before letting the players run their own damn ship, and I happen to like the fact that the Wings are by and large a group of straight-shooting people who don't put on an act for the cameras.

Enjoy what you can, cringe about the usual bankruptcy chatter and hope it  gets better. Don't be that person who whines about not hearing Ilya Bryzgalov talk about the universe.

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topshelf14's avatar

I sadly agree with Wyshinskis recap. The Red Wings are what we thought they were. And that is a team that is very straight laced and there aren’t too many big personalities running the team like we’ve seen in previous seasons. I’m hoping they get Datsyuk to open up and show off his awesome personality.

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 12/15/13 at 05:28 PM ET


Yeah, let’s just assume what we see in front of the cameras is 100% reality.

It’s stretching to try to say “no big personalities” is a reason for concern.

Posted by CrimsonPhoenix on 12/15/13 at 06:54 PM ET


i dont care if they are boring if they win. just seems most winning teams have big personalities. this one doesnt.

Posted by brians neck on 12/16/13 at 12:28 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

The narrator didn’t really allow the team’s personalities to show. I was really disappointed given that I’ve seen Bertuzzi and Cleary hold court, I’ve heard Datsyuk’s wit, I’ve seen Kronwall’s eyes blaze after a rough training camp workout…and you saw none of that.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/16/13 at 12:44 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

One team comes off natural and unguarded. The other team was the Detroit Red Wings.

Alright, so I guess I’m looking at this completely different than everyone else.  I don’t want to see the high tensions, drama, and expletives coming non-stop from the Wings players and organization.  Consistency is important, and keeping emotionally even-keeled is essential to long term success.

Example?  Well, the 4-1 Toronto/Boston game. 

Anyways, I loved the episode.  I haven’t had a chance to spend any time around any of these guys, so any look “behind the scenes” is enlightening, even if it isn’t all that “natural”.  I think one of my favorite parts though was learning how Babcock conducts himself on the bench and in the locker room. 

Could it have been better?  Absolutely.  But it’s also only the first episode and very much too soon to make judgement.  After all - Datsyuk hasn’t made an appearance yet.

Posted by TreKronor on 12/16/13 at 09:34 AM ET


It seemed like Detroit went into the 24\7 filming as something to avoid. So what you get is no drama, no conversations, nothing.

Posted by timbits on 12/16/13 at 09:39 AM ET


I don’t want to see the high tensions, drama, and expletives coming non-stop from the Wings players and organization.

How about a little bit of human personality?

Posted by Garth on 12/16/13 at 01:16 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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