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HBO's '24/7' will change how fans view Crosby, Malkin

by Dan Rosen /
Dan Bylsma is trying to curb his $5 and $6 speeches before HBO's cameras start rolling in Pittsburgh next week.
Bylsma has already tossed more than 50 bucks into the swear jar in the Penguins' coaches office, and if the head coach wants to be able to watch "24/7 Penguins-Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" with his son and his wife, he knows he better watch his language.
He doesn't want to become the next Rex Ryan. Worse yet, he doesn't want Mary Beth to kick him to the couch.
"I hold my breath," Bylsma told, laughing as he spoke in a phone interview from Pittsburgh. "Right now we have a swear jar in the coaches office and you have to put a dollar in there when you swear just to help us be more aware of our language in the meetings. I hate to say right now that I've put the most in. You put a buck in every time you swear and I talk the most.
"Sometimes I catch myself thinking, 'Geez, if they were here that could be on.' "
It will be on. HBO isn't going to edit Bylsma's foul language out of the premiere episodes of the show -- although there will be a cleaned-up version that airs during the day following each one -- and the coach is realistic enough to admit he's not going to be perfectly clean either.
"I don't want to have a $20 meeting that my son can see," he cracked. "If it's a $3 meeting I can probably get away with it. Hopefully we'll have made some progress by the time the cameras start rolling. I will be myself, and they won't be able to say I'm too serious after they see this show."
Bylsma is aware of his reputation as a stern-faced, all-too-staid coach just as he understands his superstar, Sidney Crosby, is known as a strict company man spewing the company line and rarely showing much of his own personality in front of the camera.
These images, Bylsma said, will absolutely change once HBO is done putting four episodes of "24/7" on the air.
"I'll only speak for myself because I don't want to put words into Sidney's mouth, but I've had people come up to me and say, 'You're so serious,' or, 'You need to enjoy it more,' " Bylsma said. "That couldn't be farther from the truth. They get to see you when the camera takes a snapshot photo, but they don't get to see anything behind closed doors.
"I think the same way about our players," he added. "There is a lot to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury that's different from what you get when you try to make an assumption from a snapshot photo, and most of the opinions we have of these guys are from snapshot photos. There is a lot more to our game and there's a lot more to the personalities. I'm sure there's a lot more to Alexander Ovechkin than I know and can see. That's a good thing."
It's Crosby, Bylsma said, who could have the greatest metamorphosis.
"There are opinions of Sidney Crosby from the interviews that people see and even maybe some media that see him in an interview or just see him on the ice and they don't have a full sense of Sidney Crosby," Bylsma said. "Immediate things will probably come into people's minds when they see him behind the scenes and see him interact with his teammates that I can remember thinking when I met him. I can remember thinking, 'Well, he's doing things that are completely normal.' And that's not necessarily how we view Sidney Crosby in interviews and on the ice. He does things that any 22- or 23-year-old would do."
Bylsma believes the public opinion of Evgeni Malkin will also change.
"There is a huge idea out there that Geno doesn't talk that much and doesn't have that great of a grasp of the language, and if he does he must have a quiet demeanor because he doesn't do a lot of media," Bylsma said. "He jokes, laughs and talks in meetings. He talks to his teammates. He jokes around.
"Especially for the guys like Sidney and Evgeni Malkin, that side of these great athletes will surprise the viewers."
Bylsma just hopes his language doesn't provide any shock value.
"The other day I was on the ice and had a meeting briefly with the players, and I was a little jacked up so I swore four times and on the fifth one I stopped mid-sentence and said, 'I just swore four times, didn't I?' " he said. "For my mother and my son's sakes we're trying to make the coaches be a little aware of our language before the cameras go full throttle."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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