Ever since the Stadium Series game was announced between San Jose and Los Angeles - it has never seemed tangible to me. More like a fantasy. Probably because I have (over) visualized in my head what this spectacle of an event would look and feel like, for so long. You probably have too.
Granted, February 21 has been heavily circled on my calendar. I've already seen some of the hard work and preparation in setting up for a hockey contest at Levi's Stadium. But things finally started going from fantasy to real life, when I recently saw the Epix camera crew show up for their permanent coverage right before the All-Star break.
Epix is the network that will produce "Road To The Stadium Series", which debuts tomorrow night at 7pm PST. This is the popular 4-part series which gets all-access with both the Kings and Sharks for the month leading into their showdown in Santa Clara.
During my 6 seasons of covering the Sharks for CSN, I have been granted tremendous access, and seen a lot of things that occur behind-the-curtain. Some stuff I could share, most of it I can't. Now, it's exciting to know that Sharks fans will get to enjoy a taste of that same perspective, for the first time. i guarantee you are going to love it.
For example have you ever seen Todd McLellan coaching his team, between periods? Now you will.
"The camera crew probably has more access right now to the locker room than that coaches do, right now," McLellan told me, half-joking.
The Head Coach elaborated on how the crew operates and integrates with his players: "They are experienced. They know where to be and when to be there. They know when to give the players their space and time. They can read emotions. So far it has been a good marriage."
As for the players, I can tell you that they have been just a little different when the cameras are around, both on and off the ice. Let's be honest, some of them are a lot more comfortable in front of the lens than others.
"There's a couple guys that I think really enjoy it. You can probably guess who they are," Todd said.
While the viewers clearly benefit, it's a tricky situation for the coaching staff. They don't ever want to leak trade secrets, and usually NHL teams are very protective of their inner-workings, from the standpoint of strategy.
"I'd rather just be with the group alone, to tell you the truth," McLellan said. "I feel more comfortable there. And maybe I'm a little more old school where you don't open up the room to people you're not familiar with. And you keep your emotions in check."
No matter what, you're about to see a new side of the Sharks, starting tomorrow night. Enjoy it!