After a spine-tingling opening that featured star-studded faces filled with emotion, thrilling goals, bone-crushing hits, fights and Jaromir Jagr, the first episode of "NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other" took the viewer on a path that included tear-jerking moments, comic relief, suspense and intense on-ice action.
"NHL Revealed," which debuted Wednesday on NBCSN in the United States, is a seven-part all-access series that gives the audience a look inside nine different dressing rooms in the NHL and the characters that make them unique. The Canadian debut of the first episode is Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on CBC.
The nine teams are the ones taking part in the upcoming 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series and the 2014 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic. The first Stadium Series games are this coming weekend, when the Anaheim Ducks play the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium on Saturday (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) and the New York Rangers play the New Jersey Devils at Yankee Stadium on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC).
The Okposos and Brodeurs provided the tear-jerking moments as they let the cameras inside their worlds to witness the birth of Elliana Okposo and one of the first Brodeur family reunions in Montreal without the patriarch of the family, Denis Brodeur Sr., who passed away on the eve of the 2013-14 season.
"I can't wait to hold her," Okposo, the New York Islanders right wing, tells wife Danielle as they are on the way to North Shore University Hospital the night of Jan. 5.
That began an 18-hour journey through labor for Danielle and the "NHL Revealed" cameras were with the family the entire way, from their garage and to Elliana's first cry. You saw Kyle Okposo's nerves before the big moment and experienced the emotion in the waiting room when he hugged his dad and sister minutes after Elliana was born just after 2 p.m. ET on Jan. 6.
He missed the Islanders game that night against the Dallas Stars, but the team didn't need him in a 7-3 win. Okposo showed up in Toronto the next day to meet up with the team at the hotel for a pregame meal. He had two plates of food, fueling him to score his first goal as a dad in a 5-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
'NHL REVEALED' SNEAK PEEK
"First time I saw her was just wow, I can't put any words to describe the emotions I was feeling," Okposo said in the hospital. "Everything I was feeling it was very surreal."
Brodeur is just starting to get used to life without his dad, so it was surreal when he went up to Montreal with the New Jersey Devils for a road game in his hometown. He met up with his family at Prima Luna, a restaurant run by Andrea Dell'Orefice, one of Brodeur's closest friends. They were there to celebrate the birthday of his oldest brother, Claude, but clearly something was missing.
Denis Sr. passed away on Sept. 26, 2013. He was 82 years old.
"We miss him," Brodeur said. "It's pretty fresh to us that he's gone only three months or so."
Brodeur later offered insight into what it has been like for him individually dealing with the loss of his dad.
"I still have that reflex after games to give him a call," Brodeur said. "I'm like, 'Huh, he's not there anymore.' I wish that I would be able to pick the phone up and talk to him again."
The night after the dinner at Prima Luna, Brodeur made 29 saves in a 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens. He was the game's first star.
The comic relief in the episode came from the likes of Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry and center Ryan Getzlaf, Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson.
It's the morning of Jan. 5, a game day at Honda Center against the Vancouver Canucks, and Getzlaf is shown giving Perry grief for all of his rituals that can only be called superstitions.
Getzlaf explains that everything in Perry's hockey life is about routine. He tapes his sticks a certain way, even shaves off the ends of the tape the same way every time. He holds them up after taping them because he thinks they may weigh differently, Getzlaf said.
Perry, twice referred to as "the quiet man," taps Getzlaf on the back a certain number of times on their way out of the dressing room and onto the ice. He has a certain way of touching parts of the doorway that leads out to the ice.
His rituals pay off as Perry scores the winning goal with 1.3 seconds left in overtime, giving the Ducks a 4-3 win against the Canucks.
"Some people say it's superstition," Perry said. "If something goes well I don't want to break it, I don't want to change it."
With three days in Nashville, Karlsson decides to go shopping. He wants cowboy boots to look the part in the country town. His encounter with the salesman is priceless.
Karlsson finds the boots he wants, and the countrified salesman, who seemed to have trouble pronouncing Sweden, tells the star defenseman he needs to "get you some boot-cut britches and get rid of them straight legs."
His boots picked out, Karlsson now goes looking for a cowboy hat. He finds one he likes.
"Do I look like a cowboy now?" he said. "A little bit."
"I wouldn't push it that far," the salesman counters.
Finally, in Pittsburgh on Jan. 14, the day before a game against the Washington Capitals, Malkin starts making some Olympic predictions in the Penguins dressing room. With Canadian Olympian Chris Kunitz sitting next to him and Finnish Olympian Jussi Jokinen close enough to hear as well, Malkin, a Russian Olympian, predicts Russia will win gold, Canada will win silver and Finland will win bronze.
Following practice, Malkin's group loses a quick game of shinny. The punishment is push-ups, but Malkin doesn't want to do them so he screams to Sidney Crosby and tells him to do them.
Malkin couldn't get away from his punishment, though. He does his push-ups in the dressing room.
The suspense comes during the Canadian Olympic roster announcement on Jan. 7. The nerves are felt from Los Angeles to Chicago to Toronto.
The call from Hockey Canada early in L.A. wasn't enough to stir Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty out of bed. He missed the call, but heard the message and the always relaxed superstar defenseman took it in stride. He mostly wanted to know if any of his "buddies" made the team.
Kings forward Jeff Carter found out he did, but not before he was interviewed by the "NHL Revealed" producers, and his anticipation was clearly building. His nerves quickly turned to excitement.
For some reason, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews seemed nervous and impatient as he and his teammates watched Hockey Canada's press conference on a mobile phone because it wasn't available on television in Chicago.
Tavares is in Toronto on the day of the announcement and seemed to be woken up by the call from Hockey Canada to let him know he was on the team. The cameras, stationed in his hotel room, capture Tavares calling his parents to tell them the good news.
"They sounded very proud," Tavares said. "Looking forward to going to Russia."
The "NHL Revealed" cameras will follow him there, but not before taking in the upcoming action at Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium.