My latest Chicago Tribune column is on the upcoming “Road to the Winter Classic” series.
You also can access the column via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.
From the column:
The Blackhawks have participated in behind-the-scenes shows before, but not of this magnitude.
The upcoming “Road to the Winter Classic” series will feature unprecedented volume in terms of its access and scope. And speaking of volume, cover your ears if you are sensitive to salty language because the shows will be uncensored.
The first of the four-part series, chronicling the Blackhawks and Capitals through their outdoor Jan. 1 game at Nationals Park, debuts at 9 p.m. Tuesday on EPIX. Previously, the highly-acclaimed series had aired on HBO. EPIX, a premium channel that debuted in 2009, is available in 50 million homes.
However, because EPIX isn’t offered by several carriers, including Comcast, the largest distributor in the Chicago area, the series also will air online on the NHL, Blackhawks and EPIX websites to reach a wider audience.
That means the G-rated Blackhawks.nhl.com will air some words not suitable for younger viewers. News flash: hockey players and coaches do swear.
Part of the popularity of “Road to the Winter Classic” has been microphones picking up the raw language that occurs during games and practices. Blackhawks President John McDonough realizes it is an important element in depicting the sport’s authenticity in the series.
“Listen, this is not ‘Lillies of the Field,'” McDonough said. “I feel confident in how our players are going to comport themselves. Yet I’d be concerned if anybody tried to over-sanitize these shows. It would take away from the authentic nature of what you’re trying to do.”
Ross Greenburg, the series’ executive producer, said the goal is to find a balance in using profanity. In 2011, “Road to” captured then Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau in an expletive-filled tirade that went viral. Greenburg thought the scene was too much, and noted subsequent behind-the-scenes series such as HBO’s “Hard Knocks” have “toned things down a bit.”
“There is the reality these words do fly out of the mouths of these players,” Greenburg said. “There will be some of that in the series, but we’re not going to bang people over the head with it.”