As Close as We Get to 24/7

Jeff Gross

Reviewing the Ducks' segment on NBC Sports Network's NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other.

Embedded above is the opening montage of the first episode of NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other, the league and NBC's attempt to recreate a sanitized version of the magical HBO 24/7, surrounding the Stadium Series and hockey at the Sochi Olympics.

For a second during that intro when you see Ryan Getzlaf kiss his son goodbye as he heads to the rink I thought he might just steal the show. Of course, as a Ducks fan and father of a boy around the same age as Getzy's I'm totally biased, but even so it was short lived when about ten seconds later you see that NBC had cameras in the hospital room with Kyle Okposo and his newborn baby daughter.

Immediately following the opening, we jumped right into the Ducks story line. First with a set up about the Ducks and Kings playing the most Southerly outdoor game in NHL history (technically, correct since Vegas is north of LA), including this line:

"When the Ducks face the Kings at Dodger Stadium for the NHL's Stadium Series, history will be made" Synergy. Three year old synergy, but synergy just the same.

Then they introduced Teemu Selanne driving one of his many cars (an Audi) to Honda Center for a game against the Vancouver Canucks. As he drives he explains that it is his final NHL season and that he's out to enjoy it as much as possible but more importantly, "Same hand, I'm already looking forward to life after hockey, you know. Obviously I want to stay involved with hockey and do something for the Ducks... I don't really know what yet." Please wait while we all do a victory dance........

OK, we're back. Now, I don't think anyone was expecting that Teemu would jet for Finland as soon as the season is over, but hearing confirmation directly from his mouth that he will be involved with the organization for years to come is great news.

The show then transitioned to John Tortarella's pregame meeting with the Canucks, also being spotlighted for their involvement with the Heritage Classic versus Ottawa and a number of Olympians. "We're simply not determined enough right now," said Tortarella during the meeting. At which point I laughed and laughed and laughed, thinking that mere hours later they would be on the wrong end of a 9-1 beating. Turns out, this was prior to the Jan 5 overtime loss to the Ducks, so it wasn't as funny as I had previously thought.

Next we met Corey Perry who the narrator later refers to as "the quiet man who is a slave to ritual," and Getzlaf tells us all about said rituals. At this point you can tell that the original plan was to focus on Getzlaf. They had cameras at his house, though we don't see any footage outside of the aforementioned shot in the opening montage and he addresses the camera directly in both testimonial form and would be candid moments. But the game story of Perry's goal with less than a second left in overitme (spoilers) dictated that the narrative the less magnetic and hairier of the Twins. So we learn how he tapes his sticks, lines them up just right, labels them, taps Getz on the back and the door frame in a particular way as he steps on the ice for warm-ups.

The Ducks obviously got off to one of their infamous slow starts in that game giving up two power play goals and we got to see what we were all wondering, what exactly Bruce Boudreau said to the team during the first intermission to get them so fired up and blow the doors off of Vancouver for the rest of the game.

It didn't seem to be anything Earth shaking, Boudreau clearly wasn't happy, but 1) wasn't shown dropping any F-Bombs 2) ended with a calm confident call to arms not to panic just win the period. Naturally, in the midst of what would become an eight game winning streak, we didn't see the frustrated, maniacal Boudreau we were used to from 24/7 season one. To me it showed the belief of the coaching staff and the team that the Ducks are never out of a game regardless of how poorly they may start off, which is exactly what we hear every time their asked about it in interviews, etc.

Obviously the Ducks went on to win the game, thanks to Perry's buzzer beater. In the celebratory huddle after the game winner we heard a lot of cheering, laughing and Perry (I assume) exclaiming that he can't breathe. That's a quality hockey hug right there.

As he narrator wrapped up the Ducks' story, we saw Perry receive a fireman's helmet as player of the game and Teemu mouthing the word "WOW" as he cleans the snow off of his skates. They plug the outdoor game one more time before moving on to the Islanders.

Ducks (bleeped) F-Bomb Count: Getzlaf 1 (from the bench, complaining to the refs about something), Boudreau 0 (?!?), Post Game Celebratory Pile-Up unknown, but there must have been a few.

The Ducks weren't really dealt with for the rest of the episode, including the section on the naming of the Canadian Olympic team (focused around Jonathan Toews, Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter) though I'm sure Perry and Getzlaf were referred to as Canadian Olympians at some point during their six minutes of fame to start the episode.

Non-Ducks Stuff:

The Islanders totally won this episode, between the story of Okposo's daughter being born and John Tavares: Player/Coach, there was no touching them. The pure joy of the Okposo Hospital scene was just something that couldn't be faked or forced (unlike a group of Red Wing rookies having sushi). JT communing with the spirit of Mike Bossy before scoring a hat trick and five points against Dallas and watching him be Reg Dunlop with a heart of gold was awesome.

Also the juxtaposition of Baby Okposo with Martin Brodeur returning to Montreal for family time and focusing A LOT on the loss of his father gave the whole episode a real Circle of Life feeling that was kind of cool.

By far the best on ice moment was when Alex Ovechkin slashed Evgeni Malkin. Not that they literally spot shadowed it and showed it three times in a row, that was unnecessary. It was cool because Ovie skated by while Malkin was on the bench tending to his sore wrist, and Geno says in Russian "Why the ____ did you do that?" It was subtitled exactly like that, but I couldn't tell where the bleep was in the audio. Is it possible that they allowed him to say the F word in Russian? Probably not, but I'll continue to imagine they did until someone tells me otherwise.

The other thing about that slash was that seemed it was almost made for this show. Obviously it's just something that happens in a hockey game, but it fit right into the narrative with two Russian Olympians (mega-stars, no less) battling against each other for their clubs before putting aside their differences to chase a gold medal on home soil.

There's also a scene where Erik Karlsson buys cowboy boots in Nashville for some comic relief.

Overall:

As with everything in life, this was all about expectations. Mine weren't particularly high, but it exceeded them greatly, as opposed to this season of 24/7 which was a huge disappointment. NHL Revealed was a Humangous Big step up from NHL: 36, NBCSN's previous venture into knockoff 24/7 reality/documentary TV, due in large part to the sheer volume of material they had to pick and choose from - 23 players on each of nine teams over the course of two weeks, rather than following one guy around for 36 hours.

Considering that smorgasbord of options, I'm impressed by the prominent spot the Ducks got off the top of the show, although to put it in a statistical context, their screen time per episode is totally unsustainable (Especially since, the Rangers were barely even mentioned). I'm looking forward to the next episode, covering the Dodger Stadium game, but I highly doubt that there will be much focus on the Ducks unless one of them becomes the breakout star of the Olympics, especially if it's Cam Fowler. In any case the future episodes will air on NBCSN Jan 29, Feb 5, Feb 27 (two parter), March 5 and March 12.

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