The debut of “Road to the NHL Winter Classic” on EPIX featured footage of Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wearing out the F-word during their 4-3 victory over Montreal.
“Hey boys, pucks are going through us like we don’t give a (bleep),” Quenneville said.
Later, Quenneville let them know where they stood with him during a languid segment of the game. “Hey boys, I’m not (bleep-ing) happy, he said.
The raw language is a trademark of the “Road to the Winter Classic” series. The behind-the-scene films, airing on consecutive Tuesdays at 9 p.m. through Jan. 6, follows the Blackhawks and Washington Capitals before and during their outdoor game at Nationals Park on Jan. 1.
All told, the first show featured 31 expletives, according to Greg Wyshynski’s “Puck Daddy” column for Yahoo! Sports. Capitals coach Barry Trotz also unloads a few. Referee Paul Devorski even fired one back at a complaining Trotz, saying, “You were on the (bleep-ing) power play all night.”
The expletives, though, do help make the game footage the most riveting aspect of the show. EPIX’s cameras captured the aftermath of Jonathan Toews having his head slammed into the boards in Boston. Quenneville tells him he has to come out of the game to be examined for a concussion.
“You’ve got to do it, Jonny,” Quenneville said.
Away from the ice, there were several good moments. The cameras caught Toews dumping some of his sticks. “I can’t score (with them),” he said. “I’ve got to blame something. I can’t blame myself.”
Another segment has Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell with his face swollen and badly bruised after a rough game. Showing a hockey player’s mentality, he says, “At least we won.”
Perhaps the most compelling segment was Trotz and his wife taking their son Nolan to the zoo. Trotz explains the challenges and joys of raising a son with Down’s Syndrome.
The show marked EPIX’s debut on the “Road to the Winter Classic” series. Previously, it had aired on HBO. That means HBO’s familiar and terrific voice for sports documentaries, Liev Schreiber, won’t be part of this series. New narrator Bill Camp tries to fill the void, but it’s not the same.
Indeed, there will be an adjustment period with the shift to EPIX. Since many viewers don’t get the relatively new premium channel, it will mean many of them will have to watch the series on their computers instead of big screen.
Still, the series definitely is worth watching. The shows typically pick up steam after the characters and storylines are established.
If you don’t have EPIX, you can watch the series on demand by signing up for a free trial at EPIX.com. The series also will air live on the NHL and teams’ sites.