HBO's 24/7 is a series that, regardless of sport, prides itself on providing unlimited access to various teams and athletes in a way no one else can. This current season of the show, featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings on the road to the Winter Classic, already started off with a dull premiere episode. Now, things seem to be getting even worse.
Reports surfaced on Saturday night, courtesy of Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman, that both teams forbade HBO cameras from their locker rooms after losses on Tuesday night. The Leafs had lost to the secret superstars of this season, the Florida Panthers, while the Red Wings had succumbed to the Ducks. There had been no such reports of this happening in the three-year history of NHL editions of the series. That includes the New York Rangers and John Tortorella, by the way.
The National Hockey League, and commissioner Gary Bettman, shouldn't stand for this sort of behavior. It's conduct detrimental to the league, and both organizations ought to be fined for doing this. The league tries so hard to try and break through different boundaries as far as media access and being innovative. This isn't helpful or acceptable.
Honestly though, after things like Bruce Boudreau coming off as somewhat of a bumbler and Ilya Bryzgalov coming off as a moonman in the first two seasons, this was probably coming. You have to believe the teams, and their PR staffs, would like to keep the, er, eccentricities of the athletes and coaches as hidden a secret as possible. Leafs coach Randy Carlyle called the whole thing "not normal" recently.
It wouldn't shock me if HBO packed up their business and left after this season. It's not as if the show is a massive hit. Episode one of this current season drew just 172,000 viewers on American television. Why would they want to be involved if teams can tell them no if a couple of games happen to not go their way?
With NHL Revealed, the league's own "inside access" show coming very soon, we may come to a breaking point between the NHL and HBO. It certainly seems like it'll be expedited by behavior like this.