There was a lot of buzz prior to Saturday’s airing of HBO’s 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic about camera crews having been denied access to the Detroit and Toronto dressing rooms during twin Tuesday-night losses. For a show that’s supposed to give an unprecedented all-access look into the world of these teams, the revoking of that access came as a shock.
As it turns out, it also wasn’t entirely true. Detroit head coach Mike Babcock was shown ejecting the camera crews with significant profanity; whatever followed wasn’t aired. In Toronto, bench boss Randy Carlyle’s rant was recorded from the hall; we didn’t see the crews sent out.
I’m willing to bet Babcock’s words are in HBO’s footage somewhere. Likewise, Carlyle removing the cameras was probably caught on tape. There was a deliberate editing to that five minute segment, telling a single story of collapse with two teams.
It was the sports movie formula flipped on its head. The plucky underdog faces early adversity, gets a rousing speech from the coach, then rallies for an inspirational win? Not here. These were two supposedly-talented teams facing a challenge and failing to rise to the occasion. No inspirational speech, just a berating. No comeback.
It was painful to watch the Red Wings drop that game to Anaheim but HBO made it look beautiful. No voice-over explaining anything. No player interviews. Five minutes of two teams completely unable to get anything going, played in slow motion, set to a haunting soundtrack with nothing but clips of play-by-play and the mic’d-up players and coaches themselves to provide punctuation.
We didn’t get to hear what Mike Babcock said in that dressing room but I don’t think we needed to. We were shown enough.