Thursday, December 16, 2010

HBO's 24/7 Pens/Caps Series

Before I watched last night's premiere episode of HBO's "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic", my friend Frosty emailed and asked if I thought Bruce Boudreau might get fired during the show?

I quickly dismissed the possibility. Here was a coach who had led his team to three straight division championships and even with the playoff underachievement Washington had experienced the last two years, they still appeared to be building towards something bigger. I assumed that Boudreau would at the very least get the opportunity to coach the Caps into the playoffs, and then if they faltered again in the post-season, that would be the time to make a swap.

Now that I've actually seen the show, I can't change my mind quick enough. Naturally, I thought that watching the show would offer an insider's view of coaching in the NHL as well as a deeper look into the overall dynamic of a professional hockey team, that it would be something of a free clinic into the strategising and skill building, the people management, and all the day-to-day details.

And it did. But it all came from Dan Bylsma.

The Penguins coach comes across as intense but intelligent. Demanding yet rewarding. He met with the GM to go over player grades, came up with the "moustache boy" shootout game, and made an effort to get everyone involved. His captain paid him compliments and the entire roster seemed to be confident they had the right man in charge.

All Boudreau did was drop a thousand "F" bombs and address the team with his hand in his pants. Seriously. The look on his face during the third period of the Rangers game when his Caps got shelled 7-0 said it all. He might as well have peed his pants right there on the bench.

Obviously the perception shown on screen of each team was going to be different, what with Pittsburgh riding a lengthy winning streak and Washington a lengthy losing streak. But it shouldn't have been that drastic.

Some other thoughts on a terrifically entertaining show:
  • Interesting to see that while Sid's home locker is in the middle of the room, accessible to everyone, Ovechkin was tucked into a corner with only one stall beside him (belonging to Semin), basically cutting him off from the rest of the team.
  • Seeing Ovechkin shirtless at two different times with multiple gold and diamond studded chains around his neck wouldn't make me feel all that great about his desire to win a championship if I were a Caps fan. Rocket Richard trophies? Yes. Stanley Cups? No.
  • Winning and losing streaks aside, it definitely seemed as though the Pens players liked each other a whole lot more than the Caps did. Hearing Marc Andre-Fleury call Max Talbot a "douche" on the team plane and then everyone, including Max, laugh at the joke was very telling.
  • In the GM department we had one team sitting down together to go over the recent grades for each players performance (Penguins) and another basically throwing up their arms when it was revealed that they were going to be short-handed due to illness and injuries (Capitals). George McPhee didn't quite wave the white flag, but the image of Michael Scott managing Dunder Mifflin did enter my mind.

1 comment:

  1. Article, Blog, who cares. I'm just glad you're back delivering your insights and perspective.

    Nicely done CSJ, very entertaining!