Weeks where the Hurricanes have breaks in the schedule or I have breaks in my twelve-game ticket plan seem like the longest weeks ever. This is one of those weeks. I got to listen to the boys as they went down against Florida in overtime last Sunday, but I won’t be back in the RBC Center until the 26th of December when we face Zach Parise and the New Jersey Devils. In my idle time, I have been watching other games and HBO 24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic featuring the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers.
I heard so much about the series last year, but I honestly have not had a chance to watch last season yet since it came out on DVD. Everyone in the twitterverse was watching the show as it premiered the other night and I began to feel left out. I immediately went to my TV and tried to subscribe to HBO. How could I miss Granny Callahan and Ilya Bryzgalov’s musings on the universe and tigers?!
I finally caught the episode in its entirety last night, and the show is interesting for so many reasons. I have never been inside an NHL Locker room so with the exception of post-game interviews, I have never experienced the sites in “the room.” Thankfully I have never experienced the smells either. I was truly curious to get to see what goes on in the room during intermission, and we got to see Ranger’s coach John Tortorella give a “pep talk.” As a Canes fan it was more interesting to see the behind the scenes behavior of the coach that took our boys to the Stanley Cup Championship in 2006, Peter Laviolette. I keep watching him looking for signs that he wasn’t the right guy for the job here and that his dismissal made sense. As of the first episode I have come to no conclusions.
There are some other things that struck me during the show. Prior to watching the broadcast I was convinced that Artem Anisimov of the Rangers was the biggest jerk ever for his notorious goal celebration against the Tampa Bay Lightning. After viewing, I saw a guy that seemed embarrassed and meant no negative attention to his team. He even apologized for his antics to his teammates. I don’t however blame Vinny LeCavalier for going after him during the game and would expect the Hurricanes to do the same if it happened in our barn. But after the show I didn’t “hate” Anisimov anymore. Did you know that Anisimov once played for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in Russia? That is your random hockey fact of the day. We have some new faces on the roster. Maybe I should learn more about their history.
There was also more to the story when the show featured injuries and concussions. I got no pleasure in hearing New York’s Michael Del Zotto moaning in pain as he was driven into the boards. But part of me was relieved to hear it, as it showed that players are tough but still human. It reminded me of Jussi Jokinen going down with a leg injury earlier this season, visibly wincing as he came down on the ice. Players don’t like to show when they are in pain, and if they do you know it has to be bad.
Seeing top scorer Claude Giroux sidelined with a concussion due to an unintentional kneeing to the head by teammate Wayne Simmonds only made me think of Jeff Skinner and the hole his absence has left on our bench. Like the Flyers, the Canes keep playing with the healthy personnel they have. It was also impossible for me to watch and not think of our Anthony Stewart, who is a close friend of Simmonds. I am not a fan, of Simmonds that is, but it gave me a Carolina connection.
When Max Talbot, now in Flyers’ orange, ran into Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma in the hall, they seemed genuinely happy to see each other and say hello. Did that happen when Erik Cole came to the RBC Center? Will it happen tomorrow when Ray Whitney and the Coyotes come to town?
Even if the show is not about your favorite team it’s for all fans, it’s about hockey; the sport and the culture. I have people insist to me that they don’t care about the personal lives of players or what kind of people they are. I bet a lot of those people tune in to 24/7. Are our players better dancers than the Flyers? Who gets his shoulder iced down on our plane? Who is our Bryzgalov? What does it mean to the guys when their families are in the crowd rooting them on? We come for the sport, but the humanity of hockey is what makes it special and keeps us coming back for more.
Catch 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic Wednesdays at 10PM (EST) on HBO. We thank you for reading and welcome your comments! Have any thoughts on 24/7? Head injuries? Henrik Lundqvist’s wardrobe? Head over to our Facebook page at CardiacCane and give us a like!
Topics: 24/7, Anthony Stewart, Artem Anisimov, Claude Giroux, Erik Cole, Florida Panthers, HBO 24/7 Road To The Winter Classic, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jeff Skinner, John Tortorella, Jussi Jokinen, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Michael Del Zotto, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Peter Laviolette, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Ray Whitney, Ryan Callahan, Tampa Bay Rays, Vincent Lecavalier, Wayne Simmonds, Winter Classic, Zach Parise