Saturday night not only brought a full slate of NHL games but the second installment of this year's 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic series on HBO and it was compelling, some of the best television the show has produced in this it's third season.
There was an obvious theme at work during the episode; both teams are struggling and struggling bad. As we have seen in past versions of the show that can lead to some excellent television and epic coaching rants caught on camera. As good as the episode was, it was missing that last key ingredient.
It's not because the coaches weren't mad, they absolutely were. In fact they were steaming and kicked the cameras out of the dressing room in each team's Tuesday night game. At least in the case of the Maple Leafs the cameras were hanging outside the room and we were able to hear Randy Carlyle rip into his team but the only ripping we saw from Mike Babcock was toward the camera as he told the operator to leave the room.
Watch the whole scene here in its uncensored glory, NSFW warnings obviously apply.
It was a rare restrictive moment for the show that is all about inside access and kind of defeats the purpose of the show to reveal what's really going on inside the team. Just don't look for any punishment to come either team's ways as Elliotte Friedman explained on CBC on Saturday night.
"One thing I can tell you is that on Tuesday night, and I don't think they even realized that each other did it. Detroit was at home against Anaheim, didn't play well; Toronto was at home against Florida, didn't play well. Both teams told 24/7 during intermission 'you cannot come in.' I believe that's the first time that happened."
[Ron MacLean:] "Does the league say you gotta?"
"Both teams said 'not right now' and as far as I understand there were no repercussions."
It's completely understandable why the coaches would be fuming, especially Babcock. The Wings were mired in a losing slump and were down 4-1 after one period to the Ducks. The desire to have a moment without the cameras is understandable.
At the same time, it's also a shame and isn't how an all-access show is supposed to work. The biggest appeal above anything else of the show is seeing the organizations in their truest sense, something people don't get to see unless you're on the team or staff. The anger is is raw, real and compelling.
Earlier this week, 24/7 Senior Producer Dave Harmon spoke with us at CBSSports.com and explained that access has never been an issue. The interview took place prior to Tuesday's game action.
"Not an issue at all," Harmon said of any restriction issues. "The NHL has been great. The teams, whether we're talking about the Penguins and Capitals, or the Rangers and Flyers and now the Maple Leafs and Red Wings, all of them have let us shoot whatever we want."
While there are no repercussions for the most recent banishment seen on Saturday night, there was probably a reminder to the Wings and Leafs to not do it again. As tough as it might be, it's reasons like this the show even exists and the show provides amazing exposure for the NHL. Keeping the relationship open is important.