Lights, Camera, Hockey!

Ranger man, Scott, reviews the first episode of HBO’s 24/7.  Can any entertainment review that’s not on a gay blog really be trusted? We are all Rex Reed! 

“On Wednesday December 14th, 2011 HBO premiered the first episode of its original series “24/7 Rangers/Flyers: Road to the Winter Classic.” The show will follow the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers for the four weeks leading up to and including the NHL Winter Classic on January 2nd 2012.

NY Ranger Michael Del Zotto

The show is following the success of the incarnation last year, which did the same in following the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals for four weeks leading up to their showdown in the 2011 Winter Classic.  The show gives a behind the scenes look at the teams and what happens on and off the ice; i.e. what the coaches say in the locker room, what the players do on their “off” time, what the players are saying on the ice (they are mic’d up), etc.

As a Rangers fan, I was very excited about the show, having thoroughly enjoyed last year’s. While I have heard that a number of people were disappointed with the first episode, I enjoyed it a lot. I tend to like any hockey documentary but then again I like anything hockey.

Del Zotto and a friend

I can watch any game (even an Islanders game) and enjoy it.

I was eager to watch the parts covering the Rangers as I would be able to put that which I have seen (games on TV) and know (from articles and reports in the media) into context from the behind the scenes point of view I would now get.

Usually, as fans, the knowledge we gain about the teams we follow are from our own observations during games and what the media reports to us. Now I would be able to hear and see from the sources themselves what happened.

One MOAR time!

It is no longer that I know Del Zotto got hurt chasing the puck into his zone during a game but I can hear the sound of his collision into the boards, him yelling “f#%k!” and his reactions as the medical staff check him over.

The Rangers’ media outlets mention their work with the Garden of Dreams Foundation and you get the idea that the Rangers are a charitable group.

Now I get to watch the players as they spend time with the under-privileged children and the real effects it has on both the children and players.

According to most people I know, two “persons of interest” to watch throughout this documentary were going to be Coach John Tortorella (“Torts” as he is at times referred to) and Sean Avery. Tortorella can be difficult at times when dealing with the media. While he is known for saying things bluntly (like Bruce Boudreau,) he does not always get along with the media. He has done short press conferences or not answered certain questions to the frustration of reporters. He once told New York Post reporter Larry Brooks to “get the f#%k out of here” live on TV.

So it was going to be interesting to see how he would react with all the cameras being around the team. It did not seem to me like he let it affect him at all. In fact, he yelled at Brian Boyle at one point for making a mistake on the ice, which had led to a goal against, as a result of Boyle letting the mic on him mess with his head.

I am sure everyone was also curious to see if he would be dropping F-bombs the same as Capitals (at the time) Coach Bruce Boudreau had done so frequently on the program last year. While Tortorella did not, in at least this first episode, use the F-word as frequently, when he did say it I “felt” it. He was irate. Even I was scared to do something wrong while watching the show so as not to be on the receiving end of Tortorella’s wrath.

Sean Avery was not on the Rangers squad when the NHL 2011-2012 season first started. He did not make the cut at the end of the pre-season and was sent down to the Rangers’ farm-team the Connecticut Whales (formerly the Hartford Wolf Pack). However, with all the injuries to players on the Rangers’ roster, unless you are an injury lawyer, as fans, these are hard times. Avery was eventually placed on re-entry waivers and called up to play for the team again. Some critics questioned the move being so close to the start of the filming for the 24/7 documentary and asking if Avery was called up to have him around for the show more than for any other reason.

Sean Avery frequently seems to be surrounded by drama. He is the face of the NHL agitator (or some might say “pest”) and considered one of the most despised players in the league. He is hated on the ice for his mouthing off to everyone and his ability to get under other players’ skins. The NHL created a rule known as the “Sean Avery rule” for his acts in a game versus the New Jersey Devils. Avery parked himself in front of and facing Devil’s goaltender Martin Brodeur and began waving his stick in his face to obstruct Brodeur’s view of the puck.  (I happen to think that was kinda creative and funny).

The “Sean Avery” rule now makes that action illegal in a game. I (of course) have gotten super annoyed at him when he targets Sidney Crosby. Avery has also gotten some media attention for his support of same-sex marriage. He recorded a video in May of 2011 for the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality and had lobbied politicians in New York to support the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. In a New York Times interview Avery discussed his support for the gay community and how he has made many gay friends through living in both LA and NY.

So with this reputation as a pest and the media attention he receives, what was going to happen with him in the show? Well, not much. There were some clips of him mouthing off to opponents and a scene with him in the locker room bouncing a tennis ball off his stick. The “feature” part on Avery was the cameras following him on his off-time to a fashion shoot (of all things). Avery is known for his “passion for fashion” and has been involved in the fashion scene as both a guest-editor for Men’s Vogue and as a model for men’s clothing (as shown in the episode). And that was it. No real drama if you ask me. Which leads me to think he was more likely re-called due to the injuries and not for the show.

One thing that you can see in the show that was not focused at all on was some of the new renovations that were done to the aging Madison Square Garden (MSG), home to the Rangers (and New York Knicks). Early in the season the Rangers went on a long road-trip series in order to accommodate the construction going on at their home arena. The renovations were reportedly going to give the building a much-needed face-lift. I went to the Rangers vs. Penguins game on November 29th at MSG and was curious to see the changes made. I was very disappointed.

The only changes I noticed were that the “Team Store” was no longer located at gate 75 (it was one level lower now) and you could no longer walk around in a full circle around the concourse unless you were inside the arena by the seats.

The towers were now somewhat cut off from each other. Nothing else seemed different. After the game, I went on for several days telling friends how the renovations were awful and no “face-lift” existed. Boy was I proven wrong. On December 13th I was offered by a teammate of mine his 2 tickets to the Rangers’ game that night against the Dallas Stars.

I accepted them without even asking where the seats were. When I found out where the seats were located I almost passed out: Section 2 Row 1. (I sat in the 300’s section at the Pens game). I would be sitting right behind the net, at ice level. These tickets were also part of MSG’s new Delta Sky 360 Club. What does that mean you might ask? It means that these tickets included unlimited free food and drinks (alcoholic beverages were sadly not free though). This was an experience I will never forget.

My friend and I walked into the arena and felt like kids in a toy store. We were in awe the entire time. This whole section of the arena is so classy and chic. I was speechless for the first ten minutes we were there. I just could not believe it. This is what I am referring to that you get to see in the 24/7 episode.

Those areas where the players are going up escalators and heading to the locker rooms are the same ones we used to get to our seats. That is because the new locker rooms are located right next to the . When you see during the intermissions the players walking back to the locker room surrounded by glass walls and fans looking in, that is the 360 Club behind the glass walls. I was immensely impressed and will now back up that there was indeed a face-lift (I should note that I was told the renovations are not finished yet and more are still to come). It is unfortunate though that you can only experience this renovation if you have tickets in that area and not in the higher seats. I am definitely spoiled and will now have trouble sitting anywhere else at a game.

Seeing the players so up close and personal was so awesome. I flinched every time the puck came toward us and hit the glass and could almost feel every hit a player took against the boards.

I only hope my staring at Lundqvist for so long, being as he was so close, did not throw him off his game and cause him to give up the only goal scored, which resulted in the Rangers losing 0-1. But sitting that close, how can you not stare at him?!”

Follow Scott on twitter and you too could get that close to King Henrick: @moridin87

This entry was posted in New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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