The widely popular and critically lauded series "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic" will return this season, just not as a joint project between HBO and the NHL, reported ESPN.com on Thursday.
The NHL plans to announce its new U.S. broadcast partner on September 23rd. According to league chief operating officer John Collins, this year's iteration of the series will follow the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals as they prepare to face off in the Winter Classic, currently slated for January 1, 2015 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Collins added that the new series would
...feature similar access to both teams leading up to the Winter Classic and will include the unfettered dialogue and commercial-free format that made the first three installments so successful.
Over three years, the series has won numerous plaudits, including 15 Emmy nominations and three wins. The announcement of the new broadcaster is believed to be tied to the unveiling of the 2015 Winter Classic jerseys, scheduled for late September in Washington. Collins stressed the importance of similar formatting for the series:
Once you open the door on the rawness and emotion of the teams as they prepare for an important game like the Winter Classic, it's hard to take that away from the viewers, which is why it was important to have a partner that could air that kind of content.
The NHL season will begin on October 8th this year, and both the Blackhawks and Capitals will play their opening games the following night. Washington will host the Montreal Canadiens at home, while Chicago will travel to face the Dallas Stars.
- Christopher Woody