By Scott Burnside
The NHL will announce later this month that they have partnered with emerging premium cable provider Epix to produce and air the popular reality hockey series that precedes the annual Winter Classic outdoor game, multiple sources told ESPN.com.
Not only will Epix — the cable entity that is a collaboration of heavyweight Hollywood film studios Lionsgate Entertainment, MGM and Paramount Pictures — produce four segments leading up to the Jan. 1 game at Nationals Park between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks, they will produce another four-segment series that will lead into the Stadium Series game Feb. 21 at Levi’s Field between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, a source told ESPN.com.
The shows will be available on cable and multiple platforms in the United States. It’s expected that Rogers Communications, which owns the NHL’s national broadcast partner in Canada Sportsnet, will share the production costs and air the series in Canada. The two series will be available in the United States commercial-free and, as in the past with HBO’s popular and critically acclaimed “24/7 Road To The Winter Classic” series, will provide fans with an uncensored look at players, coaches and managers during the lead-up to the outdoor events.
The details of the new partnership will be revealed at a Sept. 23 press briefing in Washington.
The NHL parted company with HBO after three seasons of “24/7 Road To The Winter Classic,” a bold enterprise that helped expose the game to the long-sought-after casual hockey fan.
But with HBO’s parent company, Time Warner, looking to reduce costs across the board, NHL officials became concerned about whether the same quality would be produced for a product that garnered 15 Emmy nominations and three Emmy awards.
Enter Epix, which was exploring producing more original content as opposed to simply airing Hollywood movies.
Epix was launched in October 2009. President Mark Greenberg has a long history working for HBO, and producer Ross Greenburg is the former HBO senior executive who helped launch the original “24/7” in 2011 that featured the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Officials with Epix reached out to NHL officials to discuss the possibility of working with the league as a way to expand their sports documentary library. Their most recent project, an examination of how the color barrier was broken in the NFL in the 1940s entitled “The Forgotten Four,” is produced by Greenburg and is gaining significant buzz in advance of its release.
Greenburg will produce the new NHL series for Epix.
Production qualities, always a defining element of the previous three HBO productions, are again expected to be high with per-episode production budgets expected to be about $400,000 — on the high end for television documentaries, a source told ESPN.com.
The theory is that the bigger the budget, the more cameras and production and editing quality go into the project, thus producing a more refined product.
While last year’s series chronicling the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs as they prepared for the record-breaking Jan. 1 game at Michigan Stadium was recognized with seven Emmy nominations and one Emmy award, there were complaints in some quarters that access hadn’t been as unfettered as in the past. There were times when the coaches — Mike Babcock in Detroit and Randy Carlyle in Toronto — were seen restricting camera access.
But with the Capitals and Blackhawks both overseen by progressive and media-savvy executives like Caps owner Ted Leonsis and Chicago president John McDonagh, the expectation from both Epix and the league is that access — key to the series’ success — will not be an issue.
As for distribution, Epix is available to 50 million U.S. subscribers and, as part of the agreement with the NHL, all hockey fans in the United States will have access to the finished product, sources told ESPN.com.
Epix provides content through a variety of platforms, including gaming systems and the Internet.
The details on how hockey fans will be able to consume the two series will also be revealed at the Sept. 23 press briefing.
Okay, I’m tentatively excited. It’s not like I was dazed and mesmerized by HBO’s efforts. (Though, The Toaster will forever live in my heart as a deep and abiding metaphor for all things Leafs.)
Basically: GIVE IT TO MEEEEEE
Track 1 participants: you all should have your assignments. If you do not, contact me!
Track 2 participants: you all have received your group assignment emails. If you haven’t, contact me!
Everybody eagerly awaiting hilarious, trope-y things: we had about 20 individual signups, and 29 people signing up in groups, so I am anticipating a GREAT REST OF THE MONTH. And then there’s NHL hockey, so…there’s…that coming up too, I guess.
Teams (if you’re friends with people on a different team and want to have like, a RIVAL TEAM THING, you can…go get creative and arrange that, if you are so inclined. Basically: make this into what you want it to be, whatever gets veterinarians and cowboys and rakes in front of my eyessss, etc.)
(Teams listed under cut.)Read more
I’ve seen that WiP meme floating around over the last…month or whatever, and I feel like expressing my anguish that stories won’t write themselves today.
SO, my active WiPs right now are:
1) Tim, Kaner’s talking penis. Light/bane of my life, who I have been talking about only forever. (Sorry.) But I’ve entered into a writing/bullying pact with rheasilvia, wherein she gets to be mean to me until this is posted, so there is that.
It’s possible he’s getting a little heatstroke or something, from sitting in Johnny’s hot tub this long. It’s also possible he should put this bottle down. He puts the bottle down. He leans his head back and stares up at the sky. It could be one of the last times he looks up at the Chicago sky from Johnny’s hot tub.
He starts thinking about South Park, and sing-songs: “Blame Canada!”, maybe sends a little of the splash in Sharpy’s general direction when he kicks his feet out. He’s not singing the whole song or anything, just a tiny bit of the chorus. It gets him a concerned look from Johnny, and a little nod from Saader, but no one else appears to have even heard him. Sharpy’s half-asleep, looking all warm and easy and content with the world. Why is he such an asshole?
He picks the beer bottle back up. There’s just way too many deep thoughts going on in Johnny’s hot tub.
2) Mariano’s mpreg. I think I really want to post this as a fun diversion type thing, but it’d have to be like…without scene transitions, ‘cause who has time for scene transitions. There’s this part of me that wants to wait until I have time to do it right (like, write the full thing), but I’m not thinking I want to be the girl who has two hugely long mpreg stories in the fandom, you know? It’s a constant internal debate. Plus, there’s just…only so much time in the day, and I’m thinking I’d rather devote my soul/research prowess to uh, no. 3 below. I’m kind of envisioning a Tumblr WiP wherein I just post random scenes like:
Saader hugs him back loosely, like he’s scared that Patrick’s having some kind of meltdown here, and maybe he is. Saader’s right, Patrick hasn’t cried in years, and now that he’s started, it’s like he can’t pull himself together long enough to stop.
This, of course, is when Johnny walks in, trailed by a bald man, and a woman with short blonde hair, and it sort of fits with the rest of Patrick’s life that this is how he’s meeting his baby’s grandparents, he guesses. Saader turns toward the door, and his hand tightens on Patrick’s shoulder.
“What happened?” Johnny demands, eyes darting from Saader to Patrick to Patrick’s stomach, and staying there.
“I already told you that there was just an accident,” Saader says slowly. “Look, when I answered the phone, I was wondering who PKane had labeled as Jon Toews, and him being here is personal, you know? He needs a little time to himself right now, and I’m sure he’ll call you later.”
Patrick’s pretty impressed with Saader’s poise right about now, because Johnny totally looks like he wants to punch him.
“It’s okay, he’s just - give me a minute, yeah? Call Shawzy and tell him I’m fine, you know he’s probably freaking. And shut the curtains a little, my eyes are on fire, man,” Patrick says, and he uses that as an excuse to wipe at his eyes, try and look - less worse here.
3) This bullshit. (Spoilers for mpreg’s sequel/epilogues; zoom in on the screenshot if you want to see.)
They make their way out to the field, where a bunch of people are clustered around four different buffet tables, or, in the case of Ryan Kesler, looking hungrily at the Stanley Cup, glistening in the summer sunlight.
Chicago’s fucking gorgeous in the background. Across the lake, the city’s skyline glitters.
Someone starts clapping and whistling, and the rest of the crowd turns around and takes in Kaner and Johnny’s attire.
"About damn time!" Seabs yells.
"Hey, are we at a wedding?" Ovechkin says. "I knew you not be so mean to invite to freaking Cup day!" he says brightly, and clasps Kaner on the back.
SO YEAH. COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF DOMESTICITY, SUPERCOUPLE WEDDINGS AND ANGST, TALKING DICKS and BABIES IN ~DANGER~ coming to a tumblr/A03 near you, I guess.
wow that is incredibly creepy and beautiful.
queeniegalore: #well #that’s the last time i ever check tumblr on the toilet
Look, I’m REALLY SORRY for reblogging those tags, but I have laughed for a full minute now, so. There’s rules! There’s Tumblr rules.
Do you think Kaner KNOWS that people are always looking at him like that? Do you think he even notices? Or do you think he just goes around in his dumb, happy daze and never realises the way people just hang off his every word and smile and glance.
Patrick Kane was a short, somewhat quiet dude who had a chip on his shoulder and he worked his ass off to make sure people were paying attention to him. I think he knows, and I think he likes it.
It’s definitely possible he has a secret reason for wearing 88 (he left room with the ‘88 kinda sticks out!’), but this was his explanation in 2010: http://video.blackhawks.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=58254
Thanks to everyone who submitted (160!) prompts for this thing! Now comes the actual challenge portion. So here’s how this is going to work:
- All mediums are permitted. Write or do artwork (bookcovers *cough*) or a mix or whatever, inspired by your prompt. There’s no word count minimums…
It’s fitting that as I reblog a last reminder that this post is at 69 notes, y/y?
So, things for you to knowwww:
- sign-ups close today, so get yours in by the end of the 14th!
- we have 19 people signed up for groups (Track 2), and there’s TWO Benn/Segs people and ONE Sid/Geno person (who also said they’d go Toews/Kane yayyyy) But if you write those pairings and have been waffling on signing up, think about how much fun you could be having in GROUPS
- we have 15 people signed up for Track 1, SO that means we’re getting at least a couple dozen HARLEQUIN/HALLMARK things soon, and if you wanna play, you should come do that.
I don’t know if I should cry or cry
have you tried crying
Little Harry’s face is like “I don’t know if this is going to be as fun and whimsical as it seems…”
And then grown-up Harry’s just like “I fucking knew it.”