In 2008, the National Hockey League
came up with the crazy idea of having a nationally televised game played at an outdoor stadium on New Years Day. The event known as the Winter Classic
between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins
was so well-received that it became an annual event that was used to highlight some of the league's classic rivalries such as The Blackhawks
vs The Red Wings
and The Bruins
vs The Flyers
. For its fourth year, the league chose to instead highlight a more recent rivalry in that of the Penguins (again) against the Washington Capitals
, but more importantly to highlight their respective stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, the two players most likely to be recognized by non-hockey fans who might watch the game. The league's motivation for doing this was somewhat understandable
. It proved to be for the best though because the added publicity of the matchup prompted HBO
to produce a hockey variant of their recurring series 24/7
, which had previously covered high profile boxing matchs, and so NHL 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic
was born and quickly became a fan favorite with the upcoming second season being as anticipated as the Winter Classic game itself.
In the series, which airs in 4 hour long episodes, producers follow the players, coaches, and staff of the two teams around in the locker room and in various aspects of their daily lives over the course of the month of December leading up to the January 1st game. Fans (and haters
) of the teams receive an inside look at each practice, each game, and even in the homes and families of the players. You might expect any amount of awesomeness
, but what truly made it a fan favorite are the unexpectedly hilarious
bits that make it a rich well of Memetic Mutation
for hockey fans of all pursuasions.
The second season, featuring the Flyers (again) and the New York Rangers
aired in late 2011. Unfortunately, due to the league being locked out for a significant portion of the 2012-13 season, the 2013 Winter Classic, which was to be played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor between the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings, was canceled. Fortunately, since the league and the players did resolve the lockout and at least some of the schedule was salvaged, the league has said that they will simply push what would have been this season's Winter Classic back until 2014, so the third season of 24/7, featuring Toronto and Detroit, will likely air later this year.
NHL 24/7 provides examples of the following tropes: