Looking back, there’s too many.
Memorable moments, that is, from HBO Sports’ “24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic” four-part reality series that followed the Penguins and the Washington Capitals for a four-week period as the two clubs prepared for their New Year’s Day showdown in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field.
You knew that HBO's behind-the-scenes access would provide an unprecedented look at the Penguins, both from a hockey standpoint and a personal one. But what you didn't know was just how incredible – and completely awesome – that look was going to be.
The cameras gave access to all areas of the players, coaches and staffs’ lives – games, practices, locker room, training room, team plane, team hotel, player lounge, coaches’ offices, management offices, weight room, equipment room, etc.
Needless to say, personalities emerged as viewers got to see the players up close and personal. WATCH: EPISODE ONE (FULL VERSION)
And while a multitude of different Penguins charmed the audience, defenseman Ben Lovejoy
stood out as one of the Penguins’ breakout stars.
One of the series’ funniest moments came when Lovejoy and his road roommate, Mark Letestu, were pranked in the first episode by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
and a crew of mischief makers in the team hotel.
Lovejoy and Letestu returned to their hotel following a team dinner to discover every single piece of furniture in their room had been perfectly rearranged in the hallway, thanks to Fleury and Co.
While the prank may have been priceless, Lovejoy’s resulting frankness to the HBO cameras was just as hilarious.
“We’re going to find out who did it, and probably do nothing about it,” he admitted. WATCH: SCARS AND SACRIFICE (CLIP)
Moments like that truly showcased the camaraderie and chemistry between the Penguins, but just as special were the intimate moments with individual players.
For example, tagging along with Sidney Crosby
as he went through each of his game-day rituals and routines – like taking a longer route to the Penguins dressing room from the players’ parking lot in order to avoid passing the visitors locker room, or eating a 5 p.m. peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with particular brands of each) before every game – provided insight that would be priceless with any player, much less No. 87.
And hearing Crosby explain why Evgeni Malkin
is the only player to skate on the ice after him before games holds up as one of the funniest moments of the series.
The show also offered an unprecedented look at the team away from the rink at home in Pittsburgh, as Maxime Talbot, Pascal Dupuis
and head coach Dan Bylsma all welcomed HBO’s cameras into their homes. While the cameras filmed Talbot making his way to the rink, the crews filmed Dupuis and Bylsma sharing private moments with their respective families. WATCH: DERYK ENGELLAND (CLIP)
That raw access was fantastic in and of itself. But what truly made the series special was the way it was ultimately packaged.
The show was so beautifully shot and edited that it won a Sports Emmy Award for “Outstanding Edited Sports Special” and was nominated in two other categories – “Outstanding Post Produced Audio/Sound” and “The Dick Schaap Writing Award.”
On top of that, the show’s producers also included little tidbits that impressed avid fans of the sport – such as playing Maxine Nightingale’s “Right Back Where We Started From” during the Penguins’ road trip in Episode One, a song featured in the hockey cult classic Slap Shot.
All in all, the four-part series didn’t just meet expectations. It absolutely blew them away. An already beloved Penguins squad managed to endear itself to its fans even more than it already has – and hopefully gained some new followers along the way.
Photo Gallery: Behind the Scenes - Pens on HBO 24/7 ShowPhoto Album - 24/7 Penguins/Capitals HBO Crew Pics – Jan. 5 (Episode Four)Photo Album - 24/7 Penguins/Capitals HBO Crew Pics – Dec. 29 (Episode Three)Photo Album - 24/7 Penguins/Capitals HBO Crew Pics – Dec. 22 (Episode Two)Photo Album - 24/7 Penguins/Capitals HBO Crew Pics – Dec. 15 (Episode One)
For a look back at some of the coverage from the series, check out: