I was at the NHL's announcement on Monday that they were going forward with NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other, a seven-part series providing inside access to the nine teams involved in the Stadium Series and Heritage Classic. It was an impressive presentation in New York City. I have complete faith in the league's partners — networks NBCSN and CBC, producers Ross Greenburg, Julie Bristow and Steve Mayer — to make this one of the better things the league has ever helped produced.
That said, I couldn't help but get a feeling that this is a well-woven path. We've seen the sports reality show before, with Hard Knocks and 24/7. While this will be done on a remarkable scale and weave a lot of storylines in and out, it won't be much from a technical standpoint that we haven't seen. It's time to think up the next big idea for hockey and access-driven television.
Here's my pitch, to anyone listening: Stanley Cup Playoffs, The Movie.
You're already going to follow around nine teams for five weeks. Why not just go full bear and have eight crews follow each first round playoff series and go from there? Inside access to every single round including the Stanley Cup Final, but you don't release any of the footage until after the postseason. Do it in either single two-hour movie format, or in a miniseries. Use it to build the bridge from hockey season to hockey season. Remember, NHL Network goes away after free agency begins, hockey fans have nothing on TV for two months.
Why would you do that? Why would you gather all of that access just to wait until the good stuff is over? Because of what you can eventually show, and the type of emotions you can tap into in the hardcore hockey fan. I, of course, speak of hockey fans' almost pornographic love of finding out what injuries hockey players went through over the course of the postseason, only to reveal them in the scrum after the final playoff game.
What if, for example, you had a crew with the Bruins after Gregory Campbell broke his leg on the ice? What if you got to see every bruise and sprain and break and scar documented as the playoffs are going on?
While some might say that glorifying what these guys do to their bodies to win a trophy is wrong, it would be mighty tempting to satiate some of the NHL fan's core bloodlust and desire to see their athletes be "tough." I'm basically saying it would be ethically questionable, but you'd make a lot of money.
You could show all the other good stuff. The highlights, the inspirational speeches, the confessional interviews… blah blah blah. Let's take this to another level, and do it in a way that makes everyone comfortable. This is, in my opinion, the next step for hockey on television. Make it so.