"There are going to be characters that come from nowhere, guys on that third line that no one has ever heard of that will all of a sudden become reality television stars," Greenburg told NHL.com Thursday prior to formally announcing the joint venture between HBO Sports and the NHL. "You just never know who is going to capture the hearts and minds of the public and who is going to break through as a real personality.
"There is a jokester on every team. There is the guy that loosens everyone up in the locker room. We're going to find out who that is on each team."
"You just never know who is going to capture the hearts and minds of the public and who is going to break through as a real personality."
-- Ross Greenburg, HBO Sports President
He called Crosby and Ovechkin the Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg of the series, "but clearly there are going to be a lot of supporting actors that will really bring this series up to another level. You know as well as I do that the coaches really become a very important tie to bringing this thing together."
That's what Rex Ryan did for the critically acclaimed "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the New York Jets" this summer. Ideally, that's what Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma and Washington's Bruce Boudreau do for "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic."
"This form of television can bring out a whole new fan base," Greenburg said. "It's clear that if you bring people inside, behind the scenes, into training rooms, locker rooms, meeting rooms and show them the way the game is played not only on the ice but off the ice, give them a side of hockey that they've never seen before and storylines of players they've never heard of before, they tend to follow the game. The hard-core fan is satisfied, but you're really able to grow the universe and give new hockey fans a treat."
Greenburg said HBO will have at least four cameras on each team on a daily basis starting in December. They will shoot roughly 250 hours of footage per week and edit it down to one-hour episodes.
The series debuts Dec. 15 (10 p.m. ET). Subsequent episodes air Dec. 22, Dec. 29 and Jan. 5. It has encore runs at 11 p.m. ET and multiple occasions throughout the week. It also will be available on HBO On Demand.
HBO's team, which never has concurrently documented two teams and never has ventured into the regular season of any major professional sport in North America, shoots, edits and assembles each episode right up until a few hours before airtime.
"It is quite the challenge," Greenburg said. "The timeliness of this show is what makes it special as well. If you were just documenting this and showing it six months later, you lose the intensity."
While other episodes in the "24/7" franchise have been a half-hour in length, Greenburg said they are going to one hour with the "Road to the Winter Classic" because, "we realize we have too much material and too much to cover."
"The hours mount up," Greenburg said. "Now, between 12 and 4 in the morning I don't expect guys to be working on treadmills because they need some time to sleep, but we may go to their houses to get them waking up in the morning. Don't be surprised about that."
Greenburg is particularly excited about episodes 3 and 4.
Episode 3 will be heavy with footage from the first meeting of the 2010-11 season between the Capitals and Penguins on Dec. 23 in Washington. A subplot will take place at Heinz Field to document how the NHL transforms a football field into a hockey rink.
"The night after our second episode, bang, they're playing in Washington," Greenburg said. "I love that."
Episode 4, the final episode, will show the drama behind the Winter Classic.
"Oh my God, I can't wait to show that," Greenburg said. "Episode 4 is going to be extremely dramatic. I can't wait to showcase that event in Episode 4."
"And," he added, "there are going to be subplots swirling around the team, whether they're injury related, guys that are sent down or brought up, guys who are having a rough time in any given week in an NHL season -- we're going to get all of that. If there are rough patches, we'll be there. If there are exciting moments, we'll be there.
"We're able to take superstars to another level and teams to another level with this series."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl