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'NHL Revealed' double episode highlights Sochi

by Dan Rosen

The cameras were there in Canada's dressing room moments after the gold-medal game as Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock addressed the champions of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. They were there when Jonathan Toews shook and sprayed the first bottle of champagne, and again when Carey Price placed his gold medal around his dad's neck, nearly bringing Jerry Price to tears.

Canadian players, coaches, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, girlfriends and even billet dads and moms were captured in their moment of jubilation following Canada's 3-0 win against Sweden in the gold-medal game Sunday, all because the "NHL Revealed" cameras were there, just as they seemed to be everywhere in Sochi throughout the Olympics.

The end was the most dramatic and emotional as Canada put the finishing touches on its almost perfect tournament, but for nearly two hours Thursday night, "NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other" gave its audience across North America (on NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada) an unprecedented, exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the players and their families during the Olympics.

Producers were able to carve together the groundbreaking double episode from more than 100 hours of footage shot at the Olympics and in cities across North America.

Here are some of the more memorable scenes in chronological order:

* As soon as the NHL season went on hiatus, the players heading to the Olympics were faced with the same task: Getting to Sochi. The NHL and NHL Players' Association arranged charter flights out of Newark and Atlanta to get the players to the Olympics.

"NHL Revealed" seemed to have cameras everywhere, including in Evgeni Malkin's house on the day of departure.

Malkin was followed through his morning routine as he was getting prepared to go to the airport. One of the funniest parts of the entire scene was arguably the most understated part of the entire show: The cameras inadvertently caught the front of Malkin's refrigerator, which is covered in Fathead decals of his Penguins teammates.

Here is this NHL superstar, this Russian superstar who lives in a palatial house, and he decorates his kitchen with pictures of his teammates. It's a subtle moment early in the show, but if you watch close enough, you can pick up on it.

Otherwise, the scenes of the players boarding their flights and heading over to Sochi are can't-miss.

From the flight staff not having one iota of a clue who Sidney Crosby was to Patrick Sharp sitting next to Duncan Keith and talking to the cameras about how he was asking questions about the Olympic experience and what to expect, these were moments of superstars being reduced to international travelers just trying to figure out where they were going and what they were getting themselves into.

This was also the moment when "NHL Revealed" introduced Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin to its viewers.

Ovechkin has not been part of the show's first three episodes because the Capitals are not participating in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series or the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, but the Olympics were supposed to be his showcase, and there he was on the plane, heading to Sochi, looking to fulfill his big dreams and his country's massive expectations.

It didn't go quite as planned.

* Figuring out where to go once they were in Sochi was no easy task for Anaheim Ducks duo Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Dressed in their Canada attire, the two star players were trying to find their way to Canada House, a place in Olympic Park where Canadian athletes could go to unwind and feel like they were in their own element, their own country, with their own people. Except Getzlaf and Perry got lost en route, and the cameras were following them.

After trying and failing to communicate with the Sochi security staff, the players finally found their way to Canada House. When they arrived, a lady at the front asked them if they were allowed to be there.

"I don't know," Getzlaf said in response, but he just kept walking.

There was no star treatment for them in Sochi.

* "NHL Revealed" didn't limit itself to what was happening in Sochi for these two hours of television; the show had cameras back in North America for some of the important days in the tournament, such as Feb. 15, when the United States was taking on Russia in the marquee matchup of the preliminary round.

While U.S. forward Dustin Brown was competing in Sochi, his family, including wife Nicole and their four children, were in Ithaca, N.Y., where Dustin and Nicole grew up.

Nicole tried to hide her nerves at the start of the game, but they built as the drama in the instant classic escalated. She was particularly enraged when her husband was called for kneeing Vladimir Tarasenko with the U.S. leading 2-1 in the third period.

"The guy tripped over him as he was skating by, and Dustin got a penalty, which was awful," Nicole says. "So, now I sit and I pray that they don't score while Dustin is in the box."

Her prayers went unanswered. Pavel Datsyuk scored the game-tying goal 18 seconds into the power play.

The game went past overtime, into a shootout, so Nicole started to send text messages to U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick's wife. She didn't respond until after her husband made just enough saves to give T.J. Oshie a chance to step into the national spotlight as the most talked about American athlete at the Olympics for a few days.

Once Oshie scored the shootout winner, his fourth goal in his six attempts, all Nicole said was, "Game over." She then shut off the TV. It was still morning in Ithaca, time to be a mom again.

* Stray dogs were common sights around the Olympics, and the strays became a topic of discussion among some players and their wives. So too did the efforts of Ines Kopitar, Anze's wife, and Kelly Backes, David's wife, who spent some of their free time in Sochi trying to adopt two of the strays that they found hanging out by the NHLPA's tent at Bridge Resort, a hotel 10 minutes from Olympic Park.

The scenes of them trying to adopt Sochi Jake and Sochi Junior played out over both episodes that premiered Thursday. The story had a happy ending because after fighting through some red tape, Kelly and David Backes were able to take the dogs home to North America.

Ines and Kelly took the dogs to veterinary clinics across Sochi to get them the proper vaccinations necessary to travel. Getting travel certification for the dogs proved to be difficult though, and originally they thought they'd have to leave them at a shelter in Sochi, but the paperwork came through Saturday, the day of the bronze-medal game, and the dogs flew home with the American players the following night.

They are expected to be put up for adoption in the St. Louis area.

* Crosby rarely gets a free moment when he's out in public at home. It was no different in Sochi for Canada's international superstar.

The "NHL Revealed" cameras took the five-minute walk with Crosby from the practice rink to Bolshoy Ice Dome the day before Canada's game against Latvia in the quarterfinals; his celebrity status was obvious.

Crosby, walking in sandals and full gear, carrying his skates on his stick, stopped to sign autographs and take pictures with several people, including some Olympic volunteers. He was gracious every time, saying "thank you" to everyone who stopped him. At one point he asked Drew Doughty to come walk with him, to get in the pictures with him, but Doughty didn't want to wait for the fan crush to be over.

"I'm not waiting this time," the Los Angeles Kings defenseman said as Crosby stopped to take more pictures with his fans.

Crosby caught up with Doughty as they got inside the arena and jokingly asked him, "Where did you go?"

"You took the long way," Doughty said.

Getzlaf, who had on a mic maybe more than any other Canadian player, talked about Crosby's popularity.

"He's been in the spotlight his whole life, so Sid knows how to deal with this stuff," Getzlaf said. "He's been doing it for a long time. He's very professional about everything, and those are things that I'm sure aren't easy all the time."

* John Tavares' left- knee injury, sustained against Latvia, quickly reverberated through Canada's dressing room, but it was felt mostly back on Long Island, where his New York Islanders teammates were trying to overcome the shock to learn that their captain would likely be gone for the season with a torn MCL and torn meniscus.

In a bit of a lucky bounce for the show, "NHL Revealed" had a camera crew at Iceworks in Syosset, N.Y., the day Tavares got hurt. It was the Islanders' first day back on the ice during the Olympic break.

"Much concern for John," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "He's the captain of our hockey club. He leads by example. I don't know where we would be without him."

"He's going to have a long career and he's going to have more opportunities to play in these games, but definitely feel for him now and our heart is with him," said Matt Martin.

Tavares stayed in Sochi to cheer on his Olympic teammates and to get his gold medal, but the injury he sustained while playing for Canada is a shocker that the Islanders likely won't be able to overcome this season.

"It's tough to see a guy like that go down," a stoic Kyle Okposo said.

* It was less than 24 hours after Canada's 1-0 win against the United States, a win that got the Canadians into the gold-medal game, when Doughty and Getzlaf were shown walking to practice. Doughty asked Getzlaf what he did after the game. Getzlaf told him he went to McDonald's. Doughty said he also went to McDonald's.

These are star NHL players, Stanley Cup champions, 2010 Vancouver Olympics gold-medal winners, multi-millionaires who are used to the five-star treatment, and yet in Sochi their postgame meal could have been a couple of cheeseburgers, fries and a Coke from the world's largest fast food chain.

Doughty then asked Getzlaf about his kids, specifically the age of his oldest one. Getzlaf told Doughty that his oldest was turning three "tomorrow," the day of the gold-medal game.

Doughty feels bad that his Olympic teammate has to miss his son's birthday, saying, "That sucks, eh?"

Getzlaf then delivers a bit of foreshadowing.

"Ah, I'll bring him a gold medal home," he says.


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