EPIX presents “Road to the NHL Stadium Series” highlights players on and off the ice

If you could say anything about former president of HBO Sports and 51-time Sports Emmy-winner Ross Greenburg, it is that he leaves marks where he steps.

Widely considered a pioneer in the field of sports documentaries, Greenburg set his sights on a new and innovative arena: the National Hockey League.

The NHL Stadium Series is the sister program to the NHL Winter Classic. Vermont alumni such as Tim Thomas and Patrick Sharp have taken part in the events.

“In ‘EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Stadium Series’, we wanted to bring the viewer inside [the game] so they could see the guts, will and courage, in the training rooms, locker rooms and their homes,” Greenburg said.

This year’s NHL Stadium Series pitted two non-traditional hockey markets against each other Feb. 21 in a game between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks.

“We knew that we wanted the Sharks to play in Levi Stadium, and from then on it was a no-brainer to pick their archrival” he said. “It’s perfect for storytelling.”

Not being in a traditional market, the Stadium Series this year posed some challenges.

“Our TV series gives the Stadium Series an anchor – we use it to market the series. EPIX has done a great job of marketing this. It’s all about getting the megaphone out and alerting the American and Canadian public that we’re here,” Greenburg said.

Anyone with a cable subscription can watch the series online for free. Greenburg said that this was a direct result of “wanting to get the brand out more.” He said he wanted to make it so that anyone who had a computer could watch it and enjoy it.

The series showcases athletes in a way that the public rarely has access to, something that Greenburg enjoyed himself.

“One of the best moments in the show for me was when [Shark’s forward Joe] Pavelski gave a great speech in the first intermission then had a hat trick to win the game,” Greenburg said. “Most people just read the box score but didn’t realize it was he who got on his pedestal in the locker room and told his teammates it was time to do something.”

He also cites getting to know Chris Sutter, the son of Kings Head Coach Darryl Sutter, as a great memory.

“He’s been a great story – his pregame speech [in episode four] was great and he’s been a great person for us to work with and to know.”

The spotlight in NHL games is usually on the superstar players, like Kings forward Anze Kopitar and Sharks captain Joe Thornton, but Greenburg said that the show wanted to illuminate others as well.

“Kyle Clifford of Los Angeles has been fascinating, you know, seeing what an enforcer’s life is all about, not only on ice but off of it, especially seeing him with his new ten-month-old.”

However, Greenburg said that the focus was obviously still geared towards the game.

“At the end of the day, it’s really all about showcasing the sport on the ice,” he said. “We’ve given you the feeling that you’re right up against the glass. There is nothing more exhilarating than watching the NHL while it’s played.”

The Road to the Stadium Series can be found online at epixhd.com. The final episode will air Wednesday Feb. 25.

“I’m looking forward to a really rosy future with the Stadium Series,” said Greenburg.