NHL Candidates for the Next Airing of HBO's "24/7"
HBO’s “24/7,” which had been following the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals to the Winter Classic, aired its finale on Wednesday night.
With the excitement it brought to the hockey world, it seems only natural for HBO to consider following another NHL team or two for its next "24/7" series.
We may not yet know who is going to be in the 2012 Winter Classic, or which teams will be top contenders in 2011-12, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a wish list.
Here are some NHL teams the HBO camera crew can turn to next.
As always, if you have any other suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.
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The Chicago Blackhawks had a dramatic 2010.
They won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years, but had to say goodbye to some key parts of that run in the offseason to get under the salary cap.
The Blackhawks current season has been filled with uncertainty, but the fans are sticking around. Hockey is back in the Windy City, and it's here to stay.
HBO would have the chance to profile Jonathan Toews, who is currently the youngest captain in the NHL at 22. Then there is Marian Hossa, who finally won his first Stanley Cup after going to the Finals for the third straight year in 2010.
Corey Crawford, who looks primed to take the starting goaltender role from Marty Turco, would also be a good subject. The series could show how Turco, an experienced netminder, is dealing with losing his role to a rookie.
Chicago is returning to its glory days as an Original Six team, and HBO should want to come along for the ride.
Detroit Red Wings
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Detroit has many passionate fans across the country, so the ratings are likely to be high. Furthermore, it is hard to not at least respect the Red Wings rich history, which would draw people to a Wings edition of "24/7."
Most people tuning in are already familiar with Detroit’s core players. But for those who aren’t, there would be no better way to get introduced to Nicklas Lidstrom than to talk about his six Norris Trophies. There is also Pavel Datsyuk’s three Selke Trophies and four Lady Byng Trophies.
And don’t forget about the franchise's 11 Stanley Cup championships. The Red Wings have won the third most titles of any NHL team.
The Wings are led by Mike Babcock, who is in his sixth season as head coach. In an era where some teams change coaches as often as every two years, HBO could explore what keeps Babcock so successful.
A Red Wings “24/7” would be a good mix of going into the Red Wings history and focusing on how they maintain their high level of play in a constantly changing NHL.
HBO may even be able to get a special appearance from Gordie Howe, "Mr. Hockey" himself.
Los Angeles Kings
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When most people think of Los Angeles, they think of movie stars, awards shows and high-end living.
But unless you’re already a Kings fan, you probably don’t think of hockey. HBO could change all of that.
The Kings made the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2010 after missing the postseason for the last eight years. Although they lost to the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, there is still plenty to be excited about in L.A.
HBO should not miss out on the chance to profile young and upcoming players such as the fresh-faced goaltending duo of Jonathan Bernier and Jonathan Quick, forward Anze Kopitar and defensemen Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty. The roster also features a good mix of experienced players such as forward Ryan Smyth and defenseman Rob Scuderi.
The network could also bring an angle to the show that the Penguins and Capitals did not have. They could take part of an episode and show how the Kings and the dynamic Lakers co-exist in a big market.
With two successful teams fighting for attention, who would reign supreme?
New Jersey Devils
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With Zach Parise’s name being brought up in trade rumors, captain Jamie Langenbrunner almost certain to leave New Jersey and Martin Brodeur’s Hall of Fame career coming to an end, HBO could take a look at how the Devils are preparing for the future without at least one part of their core.
New Jersey also has Ilya Kovalchuk locked up, well, forever. “24/7” would be a good chance to let viewers get to know Kovalchuk better. He languished in Atlanta for much of his career and has little postseason success, so putting a less known star player front and center would be good for the NHL.
The Devils have two men in their organization who have been through it all: General Manager Lou Lamoriello and current coach Jacques Lemaire.
Lemaire is in his second stint as a Devils head coach. Viewers can learn what drew him back to the Devils and if he wants to stay around long-term if Lamoriello will have it.
Lamoriello can recall the days when he drafted some of the Devils past and present high-profile players and would also be a good source to talk about how the game has changed in his 23 years as GM. Fans never tire of hearing about hockey in the old days, and Lamoriello will fulfill their ongoing desires.
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If HBO follows the Flyers for their next season of “24/7,” it would be a good bookend to filming Pittsburgh in the first NHL edition.
The Flyers are more than the Penguins’ biggest rivals. They are trying to end their Stanley Cup drought, which has been going on for more than 35 years. They are also one of the most physically intimidating teams in the NHL.
In 2009-10, the Flyers came into the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They had a remarkable playoff run by defeating the Devils in five games, a seven-game defeat of the Boston Bruins (where they came back from a 3-0 series deficit) and a five-game defeat of the Montreal Canadiens.
The Flyers proved last year they can defeat anyone in the playoffs. Viewers would be able to see if they can keep it up, or if they will again be runners-up as another team lifts the Cup.
Philadelphia has a lot of players who would make for interesting television. They have enforcer Daniel Carcillo, outspoken team captain Mike Richards and physical defenseman Chris Pronger, who has been a two-time Stanley Cup finalist (with Edmonton and Philadelphia) and a Cup winner (with Anaheim in 2007).
There is also a chance to involve former Flyers players Paul Holmgren (current General Manager) and Bobby Clarke (a current Flyers executive).
HBO would also jump at the chance to film any Penguins/Flyers games.
Tampa Bay Lightning
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After three seasons of mediocrity, the Lightning has had a quick rise to the top of the Eastern Conference.
There is just too much star power for HBO to overlook.
The Bolts have Steven Stamkos, who tied with Sidney Crosby for the Rocket Richard Trophy last year. Stamkos had 50 goals in his rookie year and already has 31 in 2010-11.
Martin St. Louis, a member of the 2004 Stanley Cup team, has 51 points so far this season, which is good for third in the NHL. He continues to perform at a high level despite being 35 years old.
Tampa Bay is led by first year NHL coach Guy Boucher. While it is always exciting to see how a veteran head coach with many achievements under his belt keeps succeeding, what about following the life of a first year coach and how he has to adjust to coaching at a higher level?
Steve Yzerman, one of the greatest players in NHL history, is in his first year as the team’s General Manager. He wasted no time getting to work in the 2010 offseason, and HBO can get an inside look at how his work has paid off.
It is a popular opinion, but maybe not an accurate one, that the NHL does not fare well in warm weather markets. A “24/7” series with the Lightning could go a long way towards changing that. Tampa Bay could gain more fans, and more casual fans would become aware of the fact that there are talents in the league not named Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.