Hoping to capitalize on the unprecedented number of outdoor games this season as well as the drama of NHL teammates becoming opponents when they represent their homelands during the Sochi Olympics, the NHL on Monday announced it will cooperate with the production and airing of an all-access TV series that will feature players, coaches and support staff as they prepare for the outdoor contests and the Winter Games.
The seven-part series, called “NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other,” will begin Jan. 22 on NBC Sports Network and will initially feature the Kings and Ducks as they prepare for their Stadium Series game on Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium. Episodes will air on NBCSN on Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 5, Feb. 27 (two hours), March 5 and March 12.
The episodes will also air in Canada on the CBC a day later (except for Feb. 27, when it will be seen the same day), and will be rebroadcast in Canada on Sportsnet.
“This is an incredible year and we want to take as much advantage of it as we can to really grow the sport and grow the relevance of the sport, get people paying attention to just how unique it is,” John Collins, the NHL’s chief operating officer, told The Times in a phone interview.
“I think that there’s been a strong desire to do a lot more of this type of programming. We love the sport, we admire the players, and we want to take all that and put it onscreen for the fans.”
The concept of the series is modeled on the HBO "24/7" series, which gave fans an inside look at players’ preparations, team meetings and other moments that previously had not been seen and made a media star of Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, who then coached the Washington Capitals.
But there will be some bleeping of raw language in this series because of broadcast standards on the networks that will air this shows. A director’s cut with additional footage is expected to be available after the rights-holders’ exclusive window expires.
“It’s going to be different. The entry point is through the eyes of the players,” said Ross Greenburg, who will be an executive producer of the series and was an executive producer of HBO’s initial “24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic."
“Also basically you have nine teams that you’re covering, the Stadium Games and the Sochi Olympics. It’s going to be a lot different because the story lines are going to be off, different than '24/7.'
“You have teammates that are going to become rivals once the Sochi Olympics happen, which is fascinating. So that [Jonathan] Toews and [Patrick] Kane end up as rivals on the other side of the ice from each other, so that dynamic should be fascinating to cover. You also really have … the bevy of stadium games and the stadiums themselves become characters within all seven episodes. And so that should be interesting to cover.
“I think in a lot of ways you might feel like you’re watching the kind of show that '24/7' became because the intent here stylistically and tone-wise is to set the same drama and intensity and give you that bird’s eye-view into the courage and the talent and the skill and the will of these NHL hockey players.”
Players featured early in the series will be seen later. So the Kings and Ducks will make more than a token appearance.
“The Dodger Stadium game is the first in our stadium series but that doesn’t mean our coverage of Anaheim and Los Angeles ends with that first game,” said Steve Mayer, senior vice president and executive producer of IMG Productions, which is an executive producer of the series.
“We’ll continue to follow those two teams and those players all the way through to the end of the series, through the Olympics, so that’s also exciting for us because we’re establishing them at the very beginning and we want to continue, especially with those two teams as they make a Stanley Cup run. We want to continue with those two teams all the way through to the end of the series.”
Check back later for more.