After another loss in what has become a struggle to stay afloat in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, the Toronto Maple Leafs will participate in a camera clustered practice today as HBO‘s filming crew invade Leaf Land to begin the filming of the acclaimed mini-series “24/7”.
The Leafs have been hurting for wins over the last month and a bit, compiling a (4-8-2) record since the beginning of November. Somehow, despite overwhelming inconsistencies that have caused the club to falter, they still hold down the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings, but for how long if they continue losing on most nights?
The addition of cameras, questions and extra attention may act as a distraction for the soul-searching Leafs.
Will the Leafs operate in a business-as-usual fashion while HBO monitors their every move? According to head coach Randy Carlyle, day-to-day proceedings will be affected:
“It is a little different when you have a camera and a guy sitting on the floor in your team meeting. I gotta hold my profanity to a minimum.”
So Carlyle can’t swear as much – that may not make a difference in the team’s day-to-day practices. But the next few weeks could be exhausting for the team’s more marketable players. According to Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich – who was featured in the NHL‘s first season of 24/7 – being on the show was a lot of work for the Caps’ star players, he told Rogers Sportsnet:
“For (Alex) Ovechkin, for (Nicklas) Backstrom it was a lot of work. Every day they want to talk to those guys. Every day. they don’t want to miss how they’re feeling: ‘Maybe this guy is grumpy today and we need that footage.’ They always err on the side of having everything and then they cut it down. It’s really taxing”
The Leafs probably can’t afford any extra distractions right now, however, they don’t have a choice. Starring in HBO’s “24/7” is part of the package for any NHL team participating in the Winter Classic. While the Blue & White fight to fix their play before they slide right out of the playoff picture, they will need to do so under the intense spotlight of HBO’s cameras.
As for the Leafs opponent at the Winter Classic, the Detroit Red Wings don’t exactly have it easy either. They are currently without their two best players Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disc) and Pavel Datsyuk (concussion) for an unknown period of time.