HBO’s 24/7: “Road to the Winter Classic” has been a huge hit in the three years of the reality series. We’ve gotten an all-access pass to the locker room of six teams to see what goes on behind closed doors, and in the personal lives of some of the players. With the current series at the halfway point it’s time to start to look towards next year’s installment. Here are five teams that HBO would love to have next season.
5) Los Angeles Kings
What makes the series so fascinating is a combination of these things: a great city for HBO to film in, a coach that will be entertaining, players that you can build stories behind and a big market of viewers. The LA Kings has all of these.
If you love the panoramic shots of cities, LA has you covered. If you want a coach that’s going to give amazing sound bytes, well, Darrly Sutter is your man. Do you want some players to follow along and have interesting back stories? Well, there is Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick battling two young backups to keep his job. There’s the captain Dustin Brown. And, then there’s Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, who have had some fun of their own back in their time with the Philadelphia Flyers.
If HBO has any say in who is chosen to play in the next Winter Classic LA makes sense since it’s one of the biggest markets in the NHL. However, what may hold them back is the lack of opponent and how well their Stadium Series goes.
4) Vancouver Canucks
If we run down the checklist for the Canucks it hits all of the requirements. Great city? Ah yeah Vancouver is amazing. Interesting coach? We’ve seen what John Tortorella can do when on camera. What about the players? Well,
there’s Roberto Luango, the Sedin Twins and I bet Ryan Kessler is interesting off the ice.
The Canucks would be fun to follow around for a month. Plus, their fans are nuts, the market has held the Winter Olympics in 2010, and they could play a rivalry type game against the Boston Bruins on New Years Day.
3) Pittsburgh Penguins
We have seen the Penguins before on 24/7. Plus, this team is the cash-cow of the NHL. They have the face of the league in Sidney Crosby, a very charismatic coach in Dan Byslma, and a city that explodes on camera when they have the shot coming out of the Fort Pitt tunnel.
However, the question here is if the Penguins would want to do 24/7 again? Furthermore, would the organization want to risk the jinx of another injury to Crosby since this happened during their last Winter Classic.
But, this is still the team that the NHL loves to put on mainstream television whenever they get the chance. So, if the league is struggling to find a team next season, and the team would want to do it again I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back in the series.
2) Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks just missed out on the 24/7 series as they played in the last Winter Classic before HBO started following the two teams playing in the outdoor game. This was terrible for the league and us the viewers as we missed out on a great group of guys to watch. Plus, the city of Chicago didn’t get the nickname “The Second City” because it’s boring and ugly.
Having the Blackhawks back in the Winter Classic, and on HBO, makes a ton of sense all the way around. We’ll get to see what Chicago coach, Joel Quenneville is like off the ice, what the relationship is like between Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and I bet that goaltender Corey Crawford has the typical weird goalie traits.
The Blackhawks are one of the best teams in the league and fit all of the requirements that would make for an interesting watch. Now, the question is: will the league put them as a host again after being the home team in two outdoor games?
1) Colorado Avalanche
This is the team that is built for 24/7 next season. Colorado is a beautiful city and will fit the bill of “wintery outdoor pond hockey snow falling” shots for HBO to show during montages. The team is filled with young talent that has yet to be shown on a main stage. And, the market is one of the bigger ones in the league.
There is also one other thing that makes this team a must-have when it comes to 24/7. Their coach, Patrick Roy, is prone to either fight another coach, fight another goalie from his playing days, and doesn’t have a filter.
Colorado needs to not only be on 24/7, but host the Winter Classic at Coors Field. Why the NHL hasn’t put them in this game is mind blowing. Hopefully, the league puts them in this game next year against the Blackhawks so we can have two great cities and teams to watch every week leading up to the game.
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