I was at the NHL’s Winter Classic with 105,000 others. It was a thrill to be there and see Toronto defeat Detroit in a shootout. But I must admit to struggling with my focus, especially as the game approached four hours. The seven layers of clothes were no longer working. Neither was the Bloody Mary. I needed warmth. I needed to get out of there. And once I did, it was all about getting as warm as I could. We drove the six hours back to Toronto, through the snow and traffic, the car getting warmer until I was finally over-heated. I refused to take off any of my seven layers. I only took off my hat. That was it. I was happy to be warm again. And then I slept and dreamed and it was all about being cold again.
The idea of HBO’s sports documentary 24/7 is enticing to hockey fans – especially those of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. Advertised as an inside look at each team’s personnel as they prepare for the Winter Classic, the show promises to offer insights into the people who will play in the big game.The payoff is disappointing, offering little more than vacuous reflections on what it is to play for “a storied franchise” and boys pretending to be grownups, driving fancy cars and wearing fine clothes. And there’s a whole fucking bunch of swearing. They have that vocabulary in common with the coaches. Instead of details on strategy, style or even on their personalities, it’s a lot of “Let’s (fucking) go, boys!” It’s not that much should be expected of these characters in this format – they are hockey player after all – but HBO could certainly do less of the epic music and close-ups of skates and actually make an effort to tell a (fucking) story.