NHL Breaks New Ground With Stadium-to-Sochi Documentary
TORONTO – With recent behind-the-scenes documentaries, the NHL has been giving fans an unprecedented look inside the minds of star players. But NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other, for the CBC and TVA in Canada and NBC Sports Network in the U.S., gets viewers into a maternity ward.
"In the opening, Kyle Okposo's baby is born," said executive producer Julie Bristow to The Hollywood Reporter about a camera crew following the New York Islanders player into a hospital waiting room before and after the birth of his first child.
In the same episode, cameras follow New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur as he reunites with his family after the recent death of his father.
An NHL star becoming a dad and another losing one are among the many storylines captured, as the stars of nine NHL teams play outdoor stadium games before competing for their home countries at the Sochi Olympics.
"There are universal stories. These are intriguing storylines because they get fans more invested in their NHL stars," explained Bristow, of Toronto-based Bristow Global Media, who shared producing duties with Ross Greenburg, the former HBO Sports president. Greenburg also executive produced the original 24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic doc series for HBO.
NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other is a seven-part series that will will follow top stars like Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks, Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks and goaltenders like the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist and the Los Angeles Kings' Jonathan Quick.
The stakes in the documentary series build as celebrity players transition from the NHL to Sochi, before Olympic rivals resume life as pro hockey teammates.
"We were there when the players are getting named to the (national) teams, and we will be with them on the plane to Sochi, to see what happens when friends and teammates become foes at the Olympics, and then return with who won and who lost as they get back with their NHL teams," Bristow said.
Documentary camera crews will also be on hand this Saturday in Los Angeles when the NHL brings outdoor hockey to Dodger Stadium with a regular season game between the L.A. Kings and the Anaheim Ducks.
Bristow said the doc series already has footage of the ice being laid down on the Dodger Stadium infield, with a reflective thermal cover installed to protect the shiny surface from tropical weather. "That's going to be the story for the Los Angeles game, the weather. Everyone will be on pins and needles about the ice," she insisted.
And the NHL Revealed crews will be on hand to capture Hollywood stars walking the red carpet into Dodger Stadium. Wayne Gretzky, who raised the profile of the NHL while playing for the Kings, Kevin Connolly, Joe Manganiello, Lisa Ling, Mayer Hawthorne and Pat Sajak are late additions by the NHL to the celebrity lineup for the Jan. 25 game in Los Angeles. Also among the slew of stars due at Dodger Stadium are professional volleyball players Kerri Walsh and Phil Dalhausser, Yasiel Puig, Brian Wilson, Nomar Garciaparra, Tommy Lasorda and Fernando Valenzuela.
NHL Revealed will debut on Jan. 22 on NBC Sports Network and Jan. 23 on the CBC, with a repeat on Jan. 26 on Canada's Sportsnet cable channel. NBC Sports Network will air subsequent episodes on Jan. 29, Feb. 5, a two-part show on Feb. 27 after Sochi and then on Mar. 5 and Mar. 12.