With a couple weeks before the the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia, HBO decided to bring back the critically acclaimed series 24/7. The behind-the-scenes show about the Flyers and Rangers shows you everything from life off the ice, personal interviews, and things you have never seen before.
The first episode is usually one of the good ones as it sets the table for what is to come over the rest of the series. It brings a brief overview from each team and what they have done over the course of the season as well as setting story lines to be played out prior to the teams meeting January 2.
From the Rangers aspect, we got to see bench boss John Tortorella drop a lot of F-Bombs in the first minutes. We also got to see some of the players speak about what it feels like to play for the Rangers. In their 85 year history you’d think the only moments the franchise has had was the Original Six days, burning the MSG mortgage in the Stanley Cup and the 1994 championship. Oh yea, that pretty much has been their history.
One of the mouthpieces I was looking forward to hearing, Sean Avery doesn’t take long to appear. He started the season in the AHL after getting cut in training camp but was brought to the big club via injuries. His off-ice camera time featured him at a modeling shoot. Some guys are video gamers, others like to spend their off ice time with family or their foundation. Avery likes fashion and modeling.
Another cool moment was when some of the players took a group of underprivileged kids to see The Rockettes. Seeing the ladies after their show was quite lovely, as they would perhaps be the best eye candy all series long.
From the Flyers side, we had the opportunity to see them take on the Penguins in a natural rivalry game. The Flyers got the victory and we got to see them do a victory dance afterward (see Top Stars below). The player who stole the show was goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. His Russian accent helps bring out his funny personality. He spent some of his solo time talking about the solar system, galaxies and Russian liquor with a trainer. Just like with Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, you can’t understand every word he says. But you understand just enough to agree with what was being said.
The two toughest things to watch from the Flyers end was the interview with injured star Chris Pronger and Claude Giroux having his special season derailed by an accidental knee by Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds was avoiding Giroux, who was on the ice. Simmonds jumped over him and accidentally caught his knee on the back of Giroux’ head, causing a concussion. Just like what we have seen with Sidney Crosby recently, we really get an insight of his frail these top-notch athletes are.
Top Stars of Episode 1:
1. Ilya Bryzgalov: When he talks, you listen. And when he talks, it’s usually pretty funny.
2. Wayne Simmonds: A player I have always liked back to his days in Los Angeles, showed some of his personality off the ice by visiting a new ice rink in the inner-city and appearing at an Ed Snider hockey clinic. It get’s ranked here as I have a personal friend who worked with the Ed Snider hockey group. It’s good to see players like himself do clinics for inner-city kids like I remember having former Detroit Red Wings appear at the rink I grew up playing at in Detroit. In addition, you can’t beat his dig at his former city when he said about Philadelphia “It’s a bit different than LA, obviously. It’s a way better hockey town.”
3. The Flyers dancing to Mac Miller’s “Knock, Knock“: It’s nothing like the Capitals fist pumping to “Beat That Beat Up” last year, but it’s still pretty funny to see how adult men can get down in their hockey gear after a win.
What I want to see next week? More Avery. I went into this thinking he’d be the Rangers show stealer, similar to how Bryz was this week. There’s still a few episodes left so there is still hope he’ll be good for a quote or two.
Check out 24/7 Wednesday nights at 10:00 p.m. EST on HBO.