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Report: HBO to bring back 24/7 for Wings and Leafs Winter Classic

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Here is some good news: HBO will be bringing back its popular 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic series next season as reported by Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo.

While the NHL made its plans for a Winter Classic next year at the University of Michigan's Big House featuring the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, there was no guarantee the show was going to be returning for a third go-round. A change at HBO Sports made it a question mark and made many a hockey fan panic at the thought of losing what has become one of the best parts of the regular season.

Just think about all the memorable moments from the first two seasons of the show? Ilya Bryzgalov will forever be tied to the words "Humangous Big" and "Universe" because of his memorable chat with the cameras this last season.

So that's the good news, the Wings and Leafs will have their chance to be featured on the in-depth series for people to see. But there will be some small changes from what NHL COO John Collins told Wyshynski.

Collins said there are going to be two significant changes for next season's production, beginning with the fact the NHL will be more involved behind the scenes.

"We're going to work a little more closely with HBO on production. We've been in partnership with them, but now that we have an original productions group here, we're going to work a little more closely with them on the production side," said Collins.

What does that partnership entail?

"I think it's going to be more of a collaboration," he said. "To the fan, they won't see any difference in production whatsoever. We're not going to limit access. We're not going to change any approval rights. There won't be anything different about this."

I'm sure it makes a few fans nervous that the NHL is going to have a little more input. The hope is that it doesn't quiet the players and coaches, one of the benefits of the show is the unfiltered look it gives us the viewers. So here's hoping that the NHL is indeed not going to be changing much with the show.

Now that the show is back we really can start to look forward to the show-stealers and the like. My bet is definitely on Pavel Datsyuk to have at least some memorable moments and, of course, Brian Burke is likely to figure in somehow.

Plus, with the addition of the Leafs, the show will be coming to Canada, too. The plans now call for the show to be picked up by a Canadian network so our friends North of the Border can enjoy all the fun of 24/7.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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