HBO's 'Hard Knocks' Coming To The NHL?

Bobby BrooksAnalyst IIIAugust 17, 2010

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 04:  The Pittsburgh Penguins prepare to exit the locker room to face the Detroit Red Wings in Game Four of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 4, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images


The immensely popular “Hard Knocks” program on HBO takes a candid look at NFL teams.   The show offers fans a unique look at the behind the scenes drama that takes place during training camp.  

This year’s edition features the New York Jets and head coach Rex Ryan is stealing the limelight from his star players by dropping more F-Bombs than an NWA album.   

Yesterday former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy made national headlines when he went on The Dan Patrick Show and stated he would not hire someone who used that amount of profanity.    

Would the same kind of publicity be good for the NHL?  It could be a possibility as HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg recently stated that they wanted to expand the series into other sports.  

I think hockey fans would love it.   How many times do fans want to hear “We’re just taking it one game at a time” or “Our backs are against the wall” in a press conference or post-game interview?   

Unedited and unscripted.

That’s what fans want.  

They want to see how final roster spots will play out and what some of their favorite stars are like.    The new age of the millionaire athlete in a politically correct world has led to some pretty bland athletes.   Just watch the NHL All-Star weekend if you don’t believe me. 

How cool would it be to watch how rookies transition from the junior ranks to the pros?    How do top draft picks deal with expectations?    

Often times, hockey fans assume that these players have it easy getting paid millions for something most would do for free, but a closer look would give people an up-close and personal look at what a professional hockey career is all about.   

Fans talk about going to see their team “play”, when it fact they are going to watch them “work”.    “Hard Knocks” would give a glimpse of the physical and mental demands needed to make it in the NHL and hopefully show people that it is not as glamorous as we might think.  

However, not all players are Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.   Professional athletes are public figures by default, not by choice.    Not all of them are comfortable being a role model or media star.  

Playing hockey their whole lives is a sheltered existence and most are ill-prepared once they get on the grand stage.   It is a sub-culture with its own rules, codes of behavior, and rituals—and the stakes are high.

From a league perspective, the NHL has always wanted more exposure and they are coming off a pretty good run with their Winter Classics, Olympics, and playoffs.    The league has tried to expand their game into the new digital media world and allowing HBO to bring their cameras in would keep the ball rolling in the right direction.

One can only hope that Gary Bettman and company were not too busy investigating old contracts when this news broke.