While we can't wait to be at Citizens Bank Park on January 2nd, we're really looking forward to watching HBO's 24/7 coverage of the Flyers and Rangers in the weeks leading up to it. On Friday night, HBO ran this preview.
Pumped? I think Peter Laviolette comes off quite Coach Eric Taylor-like while Torts is clearly the enemy coach who probably cheats. Below, a look at what 24/7 does to humanize our enemies, and why we'll still hate them even if we learn to respect them a little more.
Last year, I remember watching each installment of 24/7 in amazement at one thing in particular. The Winter Classic would be played by two teams I hate, but usually enjoy watching, so the game at Heinz Field was going to be great no matter what. But 24/7 actually gave me something I wasn't expecting—respect for the Penguins and Capitals. I know, I feel pretty dirty admitting it. I went in anticipating begrudgingly watching an excellent production with a terrible subject matter. Instead, both were outstanding, and heroes emerged among a presumed cast of villains.
Will 24/7 change the way we feel about the Rangers?
The HD cameras showing men and their families around the holidays as well as select footage of a game that is even more brutal than it already looks brought us a lot closer to guys we essentially hate simply because of the sweaters they wear. (Case in point: How differently do you feel about Max Talbot, who featured prominently in last year's 24/7, now that he's tossed aside Black and Vegas gold for the Orange and Black?) But seeing them interact as teammates and normal guys off the ice, coaches talking about their players with their kids while cooking and getting ready for the holidays, and players getting mangled by the speed and sharpness of the game...
It was nearly impossible not to develop respect for just about every character on the screen, even those for whom there will always be on-ice dislike.
I bring this up because I'm not entirely sure how we'll feel about the Rangers over the course of the next month. While I'm fairly certain we'll still hate the crap out of them, I'm also reasonably certain there'll be a bit more respect for the individual guys because we'll know more of them then just the never-ending battle that's been waging between these clubs for years.
The outdoor battle on January 2nd should be that much more entertaining when we know the players a bit more like they know each other.
Update: In true The700Level highly organized fashion, both Rev and I posted about this just about simultaneously. Fortunately, we took different approaches, so you can read his here.