What we consider to be “reality” television is far less real than you might think. Events depicted as authentic human drama are often at least partially scripted, with larger narratives and plotlines frequently influenced by hidden teams of experienced writers and producers. Rare is the day that the tribe actually does the speaking.
Gripping and authentic as it may seem, HBO’s 24/7 series is no different. The purported documentary is designed to provide a look behind the scenes at hockey players fighting their way through early-season challenges on the road to the famed Winter Classic. A series of storylines are portrayed around that journey, to ramp up the drama and tone down the mundane doldrums of the NHL lifestyle.
As luck would have it, we managed to get our hands on several early script drafts that reveal some of these secret, carefully-crafted plots. Read on as we reveal some of the highlights we found: details about upcoming episodes, surprising twists that have happened behind this season’s public-facing media stories, and even a few plot ideas that may have been axed for time and won’t appear in the finished cut.
- After David Clarkson begins his tenure as a Maple Leaf with an optics-deflating suspension, the MLSE PR team abandons plans for their #Clarksonofabitch social media campaign. The decision secretly pleases at least one member of the Leafs’ senior staff, who says the hashtag always sounded too much like “some JFJ-era European draft pick that didn’t pan out” anyways.
- Cody Franson defies the conventional laws of physics by ripping a 108mph slap shot with a paradoxically absent windup. This tears a hole in the space-time continuum and sends him into a never-ending loop where—no matter how great his performance is—he wakes up every September with yet another one-year contract.
- A heated debate between the Leafs’ coaching staff about the usefulness of advanced stats ends pretty definitively when Randy Carlyle points out, “The Allies took Omaha beach with maybe the worst CORSI imaginable, and LOOK AT HOW THAT TURNED OUT!”
- Wayne Gretzky attends a secret meeting at TSN to discuss joining the broadcaster’s last ditch effort to combat Rogers’ growing monopoly of hockey coverage in Canada. Gretzky tries to sneak out of the building and accidentally bumps into analyst Kerry Fraser. The former referee laments, “Whoa, I didn’t see you.” Gretzky smiles knowingly and keeps walking.
- The first goal of the Winter Classic is scored by Jay McClement with assists from Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, prompting the first onscreen, open-mouthed kiss in thirty years between Don Cherry and a too-slow-to-possibly-resist Ron MacLean.
- In an unprecedented development, a select group of Maple Leaf bloggers are awarded full press access to the Air Canada Centre. An utterly unbelievable plot twist follows: they’re friendly, respectful, and the free coverage they provide is excellent.
- Randy Carlyle is given a verbal warning about his job performance by Dave Nonis. This happens after it’s revealed the coach actually spends most of his time writing Warner Bros. and asking them to reconsider casting Mikhail Grabovski as Batman, a difficult role in which the player has no interest, experience, or chance of success.
- Phil Kessel’s mystery ailment is revealed: like frequent linemates Lupul and van Riemsdyk, he’s suffering from a sporadic back injury most likely caused by the amount of time spent carrying Tyler Bozak on it.
- During a visit to Detroit, Philadelphia Flyers’ GM Paul Holmgren is forced to apply a 2013 roster update to his copy of NHL ’08 on a hotel Xbox, notices the change in several players’ overall ratings, and suddenly realizes what a colossal series of mistakes he’s made.
- The Leafs’ atrocious possession stats lead to the coining of the term “puck none-ies.” It doesn’t catch on like it should.
- Attempting to set a new precedent for the digital era, Cliff Fletcher sues multiple internet commenters for what he calls their “slanderous, egregiously harsh, and totally misinformed negative reviews of last summer’s Man of Steel.”
- As part of HBO’s ongoing competition with Netflix, Kevin Spacey is cast as a diabolical executive who manoeuvres politically through the league executive branch to guarantee that events transpire to his advantage. Unfortunately, he’s promptly replaced when critics deem him “not quite old or skeletony enough to play Mr. Jacobs.”
- Mark Fraser and Frazer MacLaren erupt in a cement-shattering locker room fistfight after a prolonged argument over which one of them is spelling their name correctly. It ends in an awkward handshake when a member of the 24/7 crew points out how many Emmys “Frasier” won.
- Video of Nazem Kadri’s hearing with Brendan Shanahan is finally revealed. The Leaf forward pleads “not Gionta” immediately before his totally-consistent-with-the-past three-game suspension is handed down.
- NHL coaches are encouraged to join Twitter to enhance the fans’ experience by posting mid-game, a suggestion which is misunderstood by Randy Carlyle, who stubbornly refuses to do anything but retweet whatever that night’s opposing coach says.
- Tim Lieweke orchestrates a midseason trade for Dustin Brown. He convinces Dean Lombardi by telling him, “I didn’t say don’t trade Dustin Brown. I said, you won’t trade Dustin Brown. I was daring you.”
- The Randy Carlyle Twitter thing two lines ago was a matchup joke. I’m not entirely confident in its execution, so I’m just checking back in to make sure you got it.
- Steve Carrell appears as a surprise guest star in the 24/7 Winter Classic finale, but only for about four minutes, because he doesn’t want to overshadow everyone else. Which is strange, because market research suggests that literally every single viewer would have been totally fine with that.
- In the post-Christmas matchup between Buffalo and Toronto, John Scott obliterates James van Riemsdyk with an experimental electromagnetic pulse rifle. This is deemed a good hockey play under NHL rules, since the deadly radiating projectile technically touches the puck first.
- Every Paul Ranger mention, segment, or interview inexplicably ends with “to be continued.”
Just got back from the Barrie - Mississauga game. Just a couple quick notes:
Best player tonight: Andreas Athanasiou. Lot's of skill, don't think he'll make the show as a full-timer (I'll elaborate if anyone cares to ask)
Most interesting 2014 Eligible player: I would give it to Kevin Lebanc. He is in his 3rd OHL season with a late birthday, but for a guy with no size and a choppy stride, I don't see it holding him back at all. He seems like he could oooze skill, he's got tremendous poise with the puck and really is able to hold it long enough to force the coverage to break down and attack it.
2015 Eligibles: MAtthew Kreis wasn't dressed. Austin Gerhart could be an interesting player to watch. If he can find some more explosiveness in his step, he's got the size and the attention to detail to be a player to watch.
Sean Day: Dude is solid on his skates, skates really well. Thick for a 15 year old, he's thicker than older guys on his team. Playing right now with a nagging injury he suffered at the game i was at on Friday vs. Niagara. But he's a clear can't miss talent. Could probably be relied on as Carrick is, but they're not throwing him to the wolves, and should really come into his own next season once Carrick moves up to the AHL.
gotta give St Pierre credit, not easy to step away from a sport like that, he has his issues, and I hope he sorts them out
Spencer Abbott had a goal and two assists tonight against the Bulldogs.
Is there a roster spot available to call him up if Clarkson gets suspended?
JVR - Holland - Kessel
Lupul - Kadri - Abbott
Raymond - Smith - Kulemin
Ashton - McClement - D'Amigo
@JMAC17 It's on SN
@Jmessih Edmonton looks like an old junior team.
@BPsotka No. Mine have been shipped, although they've been sitting in LA for almost 3 days...
@Xxxxxnew Toews is the new Yzerman.
How's Jacob Graves playing this year?
I know he's been physical...skating rounding out yet?
OMG... so wrong. Lebanc is a first yeah OHL player coming from the USN U-17/U-18 DP. Probably passed up NCAA to try and get noticed by scouts.
@Dangle_My_Berries Good light/Bad light (Seinfeld episode)
@.JVR. I wanted to see Abbott up here a few weeks ago. Guy oozes skill.
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan The truth is here Bon.
@Gilbey93 Biggs has issues it seems with his agility and his lateral mobility. He skates well from point A to B but he doesn't seem to turn very well. His upside.... I'll be floored to see him be a solid second liner.
Also have Verhaeghe
@Uncle Otis @NotSince67 I watched him for a bit, but I haven't noticed too much that would get me excited. His skating certainly does not stand out, he's not that imposing. He's been playing with Carrick who's carrying that back end right now. Graves also commits a healthy number of brain farts, and sometime just doesn;t show good hockey IQ. For example, Burnside goes to reverse the puck and go and change regroupng on the PP. Puck should have gone around to Carrick, but Graves cuts it off as he's under pressure and passes back to burnside who was already under pressure. Burnside tosses it back at him and the turnover occurs.
Carrick is such a horse for this team, the back end is so young, (DiTomasso, Walsh are 96s, Sean Day is FIFTEEN which is mind blowing.) he really gives them a ton of stability.
Yea, I like this one much better:
JVR - Bozak - Kessel
Lupul - Kadri - Kulemin
Raymond - Bolland - Clarkson
D'Amigo - McClement Orr
I think he'd do good on a line with Kadri and Lupul.
Not sure if we have the roster spot though.
D'Amigo and Ashton are already NHLers, albeit 4th liners, but still NHLers.
I believe Percy and Finn will be NHLers once they're developed.
Also believe Gauthier will be a solid 3rd line centre.
Oh yea and while it's no guarantee, I think Holland and Leivo have the potential to be top six forwards.
@juliesucks @NotSince67 @Xxxxxnew Yzerman was amazing but he was a one-way points guy for almost the first half of his career. He never made any of those team Canadas in that period because of that because after you got past the Marios and Gretzkys they added two way guys like Hawerchuck and Toccet. It wasn't until Scotty Bowman sat him down in 93 that he learned the full game. His point total went down but they became a better team and quickly became perennial challengers, which has pretty much lasted to today.
@juliesucks @NotSince67 @Xxxxxnew I just don't get how some guys end up a WINNER, like championships and Gold medals fall out of their pockets. It's unreal. I mean, he's not even the player Sidney Crosby is, but if you asked me today, right now if I could have anyone for my #1 centre, it's probably be Toews.
And that's no disrespect to guys like Getzlaf or Crosby, Bergeron (another proven winner) Richards, Carter, Giroux, Richards, you name it. It's just amazing what he's accomplished and I doubt it's a fluke.
I'll say this though, being in the rink is so much different.
1) IF you're a rink rat, it's truly home. There is nothing like that sheet of ice, the sound of pucks hitting the boards and glass, a crisp pass on a stick. It's heaven.
2) There is nothing more Canadian than the NAtional Anthem before the game in some small semi-cold barn watching kids play Jr. hockey.
3) With the whole ice surface infront of you, you see so much more of the game. You see literally every little thing, from the guy who didn't see the forward calling for a stretch pass, to the sticking behind the play, hearing the communication on the ice. You can literally see how solid a kid is on his skates without him taking contact from the way his stance his, his strides, his balance.
4) The top talent, like top 3 rounds, those kids are so much better than the rest. Their talent level far exceeds what you see in everyone else. Go watch a TOP TOP prospect, and you really do get the feeling you're watching something special. I'm still in awe over watching Perlini. I'm not blown away by Day, but knowing he's a rookie, 2-3 years younger than a lot of guys... And knowing how hard it is to make the OHL and watch these guys cut through it like butter, it's special. I'm so disapointed I didn't see Ekblad tonight, because it's literally bliss imagining what could be.
(failed edit, haha)
Thanks NS67 :)
@The Truth Hurts Don't think Biggs will make the NHL
@DeclanK @NotSince67 @The Truth Hurts I read a great feature on the NCAA in Hockey News two years ago. It talked about the major differences. JML and Ryan Malone spoke of how two games on a weekend, and then practice and training all week long with classes with allows for a lot of skills development. Liles and Malone personally credit that extra time in the gym and practicing as crucial int heir development to get to the NHL
In the OHL, you often play (like last week for Mississauaga) Friday at home, fly out to North bay for Saturday nights game, the Sunday in Sudbury, home doing classes, one game during the week say on tuesday, wednesday, or thursday. It really is as compact as the AHL schedule. It promotes game situation development, but it doesn't promote personal skill and strength development. It can allow for bah habits to continue because simply you gotta play and play fatigued.
If you take the NCAA it buys you time to improve yourself. I see the CHL really as a way to expose yourself to the scouts but it's not preferential for guys who don;t have top line upside, I feel they'd benefit from the more structured College game and the additional development time
@The Truth Hurts He's still got two and a half season and two summers to make the necessary improvements. I've always thought he was dumd for leaving the NCAA. It forced him to go pro two years early, he left one of the top hockey programs in the nation, and given that he wasn't an "elite talent" the experience playing against young men and stronger more polished competiton probably would have been more useful than leaving, running runshod over much smaller and younger kids in the attempt to get on the scoresheet and develop offense.
I also probably think his agent or dad was in his ear.
Yea, was gonna mention him, but haven't really been following either of them, so I didn't know who would be higher.
True, so I guess you can replace them with Verhaeghe and Sparks on the prospect depth chart.
@.JVR. @NotSince67 Oh, several have NHL potential. Potential is all why their names got called on draft day. But realistically of that group of 10 the only one I doubt their potential is Connor Brown, he's pretty small. Everyone else, if they go according to plan they should.
Calling Ashton a prospect is dicey, he's almost not a prospect anymore. He's got a lot of NHL service 30+ games and he's 3 years pro now. Same with Holland.
Just as it is a bit of a stretch to say Rielly is our only prospect with NHL potential.
@.JVR. @The Truth Hurts Finn still hasn't played pro, so it's a bit of a stetch before we see him against pro competition. He didn't suit up in preseason, so that doesn;t give us a good idea. On the contrary Percy has by all accounts excelled in the pro game with more structure, but he played AHL games as an 18 and 19 year old before going up full-time.