Eight days ago, John Tavares' hockey season ended in Sochi, Russia, and the NHL Revealed cameras were able to cover it. At the same time, on Long Island, the New York Islanders were finding out about Tavares — far and away their best player — going down for the rest of the year. NHL Revealed's cameras were able to cover it, too.
I've written about the show, which premieres its two-part Olympics edition tonight, quite extensively. That's because I think it's an interesting experiment in trying to find the middle-ground of inside access with a league's official stamp on the programming. But really, I'm in this to see what they were able to get out of insider access at the Olympics, unlike anything we've ever seen before.
Ross Greenburg and his team appear to have delivered, working what he described as two crews "running 16-18 hour days for the solid 18 days of the games, it was brutal. They all need about a 4-week vacation, although some of them are gonna go in and start producing the last couple episodes." The fruit of that labor premieres tonight on CBC at 8 p.m. ET and NBCSN at 10 p.m. ET.
(Greenburg declared that there would be no hotel footage from the Games, saying "That wouldn't be fair. The people that went over there, they didn’t shower for the first three days, but I don’t think it was for lack of a shower, it was for the lack of having the time to take one.")
NHL COO John Collins told me that it was Greenburg's crew's job to find out what could be made of unprecedented access in both Sochi and at the league level. "I think Ross has done an amazing job of figuring out the story lines and weaving it together and putting together a great series."
So what do we see? Besides Tavares, a ton of material featuring the Kings' Anze Kopitar who, along with his dad (the coach), led his Slovenia team into their first Olympics, and even shocked Slovakia in an elimination game. "It was very, very emotional. I found myself welling up in the second hour. It just is. We were there with his wife, actually, and it’s just really, really emotional to see that country that had never even appeared in Olympic games, get to the quarterfinals. It’s really heartwarming."
Elsewhere, the tireless efforts of the crew sees players and refs mic'd up on the ice in practice and during the games. All of the major countries were covered, with Collins noting an interview with Teemu Selanne where Sidney Crosby walked in the background and thinking it was " like one of those crazy Hollywood films where everyone in the film is a star and you find your eyes looking everywhere to see who else you can see in the background."
While the players and their families travel around the Olympic Village on the show, there are also clips from back home. Dustin Brown's wife Nicole and their four children had figured into one of the more popular earlier episodes of the series. The cameras find them as they watch the USA-Russia game, with Brown texting USA/Kings goalie Jonathan Quick's wife during TJ Oshie's shootout heroics.
Ah, and what of the Olympics' biggest star? Despite not having followed him during the initial episodes of the show, you can expect plenty. "The whole key to this kind of show is that when you’re delivered a story like Oshie, you have to pick up the ball, you have to jump on it," Greenburg said.
"We immediately, once he became an instant star with all of those shootout goals, we were there with him. Luckily we were there with him in practice the day before the game. After the game, we spent some time with him to get his reaction, we had a camera there, in his face, getting answers to questions about what it was like."
It's a program that Collins sees as a real stepping stone for the league in terms of its access shows. "A lot of that is the trust that’s been built up by Ross and his team going back to 24/7 and now through NHL Revealed. Through 24/7 and now revealed, I think more and more fans are going to be exposed to the kind of stars that we have in the league, and the great story lines that go along with events like the Stadium Series and the Olympics."