24/7 Recap: Penis Injuries, the Rangers and That Broad Street Spirit

Unfortunately for Flyers fans, we knew how this HBO series would end

For many, New Year’s Eve is a big night out: lavish parties, V.I.P. lists, bottle service and the like. For Peter Laviolette, it was an opportunity to spend some time with family and close friends in the middle of a hectic hockey season. It was also a chance for the Flyers coach and his family to tell America that the Rangers suck, while taking a group picture.

Other gems from the finale of HBO’s 24/7 include the Pens game in Pittsburgh just after Christmas when Scott Hartnell calls Evgeni Malkin the ugliest guy in the league and Max Talbot appeals to the refs claiming he was speared, “right in [his] fucking penis.”

But, as a whole, the episode was a somber reminder for Flyers fans that the city’s hockey team has yet to beat the Rangers. We get to see two awkward interviews with the Flyers highest-paid player when Ilya Bryzgalov tries his hand at sarcasm when expressing his dissatisfaction with his own performance and again when he tries to wear a bit of a smile when telling reports he won’t be playing in the Winter Classic.

By now, we’re all well aware of how the game ended. The home team went up 2-0 and took a one-goal lead into the game’s final frame. Even after relinquishing the lead and playing 15 minutes of unsuccessful, come-from-behind hockey the puck lay at center ice with less than 10 seconds left and no one between Danny Briere and Henrik Lundqvist.

HBO’s cameras must’ve had 20 different angles of that penalty shot. As Briere chopped his stick, skating toward the crease, HBO offered us every millisecond from every angle—dangling false hope for Flyers fans. Yet, like with a cat pawing at a ball of yarn, the inevitability of the outcome left Philly faithful empty-handed as Briere shoots five-hole and Lundqvist’s pads close the window. The buzzer sounds shortly thereafter and the Flyers, again, fall short to the first-place Rangers.

But, as is explained by the narrator at the finale’s end, the hockey season is long and, while every game is important, the stakes will continue to rise as the year progresses. HBO’s 24/7 helped illustrate the multidimensional nature of the game while highlighting the simplicity of the goal.

“Never get caught telling a hockey player it’s just a game,” says the narrator over a montage of moments from the series. “Never get caught trying to explain to him all the things in the world that matter so much more. His mind might well acknowledge the truth to your point, but his soul will be powerless to accept it, considering the immensity of what he gives to the sport and the immeasurability of all it offers in return. Nothing ever feels as perfect as a moment of flawlessness on the ice; no bond as strong as the one that compels brothers to bleed for one another; not many leaders with this thirst in the craft of motivation. Not many pursuits can evoke such visions of brilliance. This is why it hurts so much when skill falls short of what the will desires. This is why it’s so unforgettable when absolute passion yields ultimate reward. And that’s all still just the start of what the game can do to you.”

He adds, “Hockey may, in fact, be just a game, but it’s also who they are.”

The same can be said for a city that put nearly 45,000 people in a baseball stadium for an alumni exhibition game on New Year’s Eve. The sentiment rings true for a city that sells out a 19,537-seat arena night in and night out for a hockey team that hasn’t won a cup since the Ford administration.

HBO’s 24/7 gave us a glimpse into the lives of the players and coaches of the Philadelphia Flyers. But, more importantly, it demonstrated that they’re just people—people who get hurt, celebrate holidays, struggle at work and care about the community. And they’re people who care as much about bringing a cup to Broad Street as any person on the planet.