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Sports

HBO’s 24/7 Set to Expose the Toronto Maple Leafs


Chris Granicolo, Howl Staff

With the announcement of the Detroit Red Wings hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2013 Winter Classic, and the Leafs’ GM Brian Burke’s meeting with HBO in New York last week, fans of both the Wings and the Leafs are salivating at the thought of having their teams depicted behind the all-telling cameras of HBO in their acclaimed 24/7 series.

Leafs' GM Brian Burke

HBO has done an excellent job in the last two Winter Classics with its 24/7 television specials. For this four-part series, HBO has an all access pass to both teams competing in the Winter Classic in the weeks leading up to the NHL’s flagship event. Besides what occurs on the ice and in the post-game locker room interviews, the NHL is a notoriously closed and secretive world, always leaving the fans wanting to know more about what goes on behind the scenes with their favourite players and teams.

HBO’s 24/7 gives an uncensored look into all aspects of NHL life, ranging from the types of cars the players drive, to how the referees mull to themselves between periods.

Starting off as a special series for boxing events, 24/7 has expanded into NASCAR and now the NHL. The first two incarnations of the NHL series have been a resounding success, depicting in 2011 the heated rivalries of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, as well as the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.

Both of these series have had their share of classic moments. Most notable are the Washington Capitals’ coach Bruce Boudreau’s “f-bomb” tirade between periods in a team pep-talk, and Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s rant and insight into life in the universe. Definitely worth a watch.

Bryzgalov on the Universe

Now, what does this mean for the 2013 Winter Classic? With an all access pass to the life of our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs, Leafs Nation will be in for quite a treat to see how our star players act in front of the camera.

The Howl predicts that GM Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson (if he is still our coach) will be the stars of the show, with socially awkward team scoring leader Phil Kessel adopting a role akin to a TV extra, lurking behind the scenes with nothing meaningful to say.

I, for one, am ecstatic to see what Burke is like behind the scenes. The big Irishman is always full of amusing and bombastic quotes for the media, and sports personalities tend to dim themselves down for the live camera. With an uncensored look into his life behind the scenes, Leafs fans will be overjoyed to see how he acts.

Here’s to hoping 24/7 exposes that coach Ron Wilson has some sort of personality behind the scenes. In media scrums and interviews, the often-smug coach has nothing insightful to say and often chirps at journalists trying to do their job. Let’s see if the cameras expose a nice and personable side to Wilson.

Captain Dion Phaneuf’s life will be quite interesting, making $6.5-million a year as a 26-year-old playing in the centre of the hockey universe. Oh, and his girlfriend is Elisha Cuthbert. Should be an interesting segment on our boy Dion.

The aforementioned quiet Kessel has a golden opportunity to shed his reputation as a social leper. The star is the farthest from a media darling by any stretch. Hopefully he drives a cool car with that $5.4-million-a-year salary and has some witty jokes for the cameras.

Mennonite goaltender James Reimer is predicted to be the most boring behind-the-scenes athlete for Toronto. Married by 23, does not swear or drink, and attends church regularly. Hmmm.

Other highlights will be the resident goofball Colby Armstrong and team party boys Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.

When the show begins to air in December 2012, every little piece of the Leafs will be dissected. If they fail to make the playoffs this spring, that will bring the drought to over 7 years, which surely will be an underlying theme throughout the segment. The cameras can have both a positive and negative result for the teams in question, as both series thus far depicted a team in a lengthy winning streak (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia) and a team struggling (Washington, New York).

Although the Capitals and Rangers were both losing before the show began to film, the constant barrage of cameras documenting their everyday life did not better their struggles. Frustration will be a part of the show, along with some comedic relief. Whatever is in front of the camera in 2013, Leafs fans will be more than delighted to see how their beloved athletes act when the cameras aren’t live.

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