HBO's "24/7" Series Not As Compelling As Previous Seasons, But Still A Success For NHL
With the airing of the final episode of HBO's "24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the Winter Classic," the book is "officially closed on what was a terrific event for the NHL," according to Chris Peters of CBSSPORTS.com. However, this year's "24/7" series "didn't quite have those extremely memorable moments that came out in previous seasons." That said, it was "still an interesting look inside two teams and a nice break from the monotony of what we hear through the watered down commentary in post-game interviews and press conferences." The final episode had "a few memorable points, most of which included" Maple Leafs RW Phil Kessel, who "may have been the series' breakout star as he's often one of the most misunderstood players in the league." Generally, it was another episode "that wasn't terribly compelling compared to previous seasons, but again, it's still a great show" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/4). In Detroit, Steve Schrader wrote the finale was "a nice send-off, with some great snowy scenes from the frigid Big House." But there are "a few complaints about the series." Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk "remained a silent participant, and they did nothing with the Alumni Showdown" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/5).
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: In Boston, Fluto Shinzawa noted USA Hockey provided ESPN.com and USA Today with "unlimited access" to chronicle the Olympic team's assembly. But that decision "was regretful" after controversy arose over Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke's evaluation of Senators LW Bobby Ryan, who was omitted from the team. Burke according to the ESPN.com story said of Ryan, "He is not intense. That word is not in his vocabulary. It's never going to be in his vocabulary." Ryan "did not appreciate the comments." He said that Burke's "rip job was gutless." Team USA GM David Poile said that USA Hockey "had the right to review ESPN.com's and USA Today's material before publication." ESPN.com writer Scott Burnside "declined to comment on if he faced any restrictions or guidelines." Burnside in an e-mail wrote that he "did not record any conversations and was asked not to write about the process until the team was announced on Wednesday." Poile on Friday during a conference call "did not dispute that Burke made the critical comments." But Poile said that there was "just as much positive review on Ryan’s performance." Poile added that when the management team "made its final vote, Burke had Ryan on the team." Poile: "I’m trying to apologize to Bobby Ryan. ... I apologize as much as I can" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/5). The Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE noted Burnside was "embedded in the selection process from beginning to end, and his piece included some brutally honest inside looks into how the team was determined." But "like it or not, these are the real conversations that go on when you are on a committee tasked with trying to assemble the best combination of 25 players" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/5).