News leaked last week that after three seasons of producing the four-part 24/7 documentary series that featured an inside look at the teams participating in the Winter Classic prior to the league's annual outdoor game, HBO would no longer do so. It was expected that the NHL would move quickly to find a replacement. What comes as a bit of a surprise is that they've now added a 24/7-esque show to cover the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings leading up to their Stadium Series game as well.
Scott Burnside of ESPN.com reports that premium cable channel Epix will produce and air a four-part series prior to both the Winter Classic game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals and the Stadium Series tilt between the Sharks and Kings this season. According to Burnside, the partnership between the NHL and HBO ended due to concerns by the league that the channel would not be able to maintain their prior quality due to budget cuts, not because HBO was irked by the Red Wings' and Maple Leafs' refusal to provide total access for this year's edition as many suspected.
It goes without saying that the storylines leading up to the game between the Sharks and Kings at Levi's Stadium are easily the most compelling the league has had to work with since the Penguins-Capitals installment of 24/7, and perhaps that's why they decided to expand the series to include it. San Jose is coming off one of the most devastating playoff defeats in NHL history at the hands of the Kings which led to an offseason of turmoil for the Sharks and a second championship in three seasons for L.A. You don't have to be an expert to turn that into a captivating narrative.
So call your local cable or satellite provider and ask them about adding Epix
or just download a torrent the morning after. This should be an interesting series, and not just because North America is about to discover that Dustin Brown lives inside one of the La Brea tar pits.