NEWARK, N.J. -- Could Pavel Datsyuk be the world's new reality TV star?
Datsyuk's Red Wings teammates think it's a possibility and are hoping it becomes a reality now that filming has begun for HBO's highly anticipated four-part series, "24/7 Red Wings-Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic."
The first episode debuts next Saturday at 10 p.m. EST. It can be seen on Sportsnet the following night.
"I'm hoping that the fans will get to know Pavel a little bit better," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "He's got an awesome personality, a great sense of humor. He's a fun guy to be around, so I'm hoping the viewers get to see that."
While that's what the Red Wings may want, they aren't at all sure what to expect from the "24/7" experience that has in the past shown Bruce Boudreau's brutal honesty and salty vocabulary, Ilya Bryzgalov's wild eccentricities and Maxime Talbot's ugly Christmas sweaters.
The Red Wings are excited about being featured in the series, but they also admittedly are nervous about what lies ahead as they play through the month of December en route to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., on New Year's Day.
"It's hard not to notice when they're standing there during the game and practices, but you've just got to do your best to be yourself and try not to let it creep into your mind that there is constantly a camera on you," goalie Jimmy Howard said. "I think it's going to be tough on all of us at first because we're not really used to that, being on TV without us playing. After a week or maybe two everybody will forget that they're around."
Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Alfredsson said they also hope Datsyuk becomes one of the stars of the series because of his endless wit and sharp sense of humor that comes across despite -- or maybe because of -- his broken English.
"If I wasn't on the team I would want to see that," Alfredsson said. "I don't know how it's going to turn out, but he's one funny guy, that's for sure."
"(Datsyuk) comes across as quiet," Abdelkader said, "but once you get a camera around him his personality will come out more and more."
Todd Bertuzzi, though, thinks it's going to take some time for the Red Wings' true personality to come out.
"It's going to be for the first week or so a test zone for the guys," Bertuzzi said. "It's unfamiliar and it'll be a little bit different so I think it'll take a little bit for this team to show its personality, but we've got some clowns on the team like (Tomas) Tatar and a handful of others. I'm sure they'll entertain the crowd enough."
Tatar was sitting to Bertuzzi's immediate right when the veteran forward delivered that comment Friday. He got a good laugh.
"Well, he's been all over me since I got here so it doesn't surprise me at all," Tatar said. "He'll chirp me because I'm a young guy and he's a super-veteran. He thinks he's cool and I'm just shaking my head, like, 'Yeah right buddy.'"
But is it true? Is Tatar a clown and will Bertuzzi's vision of his personality shine in "24/7"?
"I don't even know where the camera is going to be," Tatar said.
If it finds him it could be vintage "24/7" because there's no way to know if the 23-year-old Slovak is one of the so-called clowns on the team unless you're inside the Red Wings' dressing room.
"I don't want to change anything," Tatar said. "I'll be the same. If the cameras find me I guess I'll be there."
Alfredsson is predicting that the cameras won't find him, at least early in the filming.
"From me not much is going to be said early on," Alfredsson said. "I think you can get used to it as you go on, open up a little more. At least I hope so. I think it's pretty cool though. I watched a little bit from other seasons and I know a lot of friends both in Canada and Sweden, they love the show and the ability to get that insight that you would never get anywhere else."
And Alfredsson understands why there is that much intrigue from a fan perspective and why the show was wildly successful in the past.
"I would love to see what happens at Apple's executive meetings … I would love to be a fly on the wall," Alfredsson said. "Now you're able to. It's pretty cool. From my side anyway you try to keep everything private, especially game days and between periods, but I think we'll get used to it to open up and be normal. In the beginning it could be a little bit intimidating."
Not to coach Mike Babcock.
"I'm just doing what I do every day," Babcock said. "I don't even know what I do, I just do it, so I'm going to continue to do what I do. I'm hoping I don't embarrass my family and I hope I don't cross the line with any player in public that they think is great TV. To me, that's not."
Babcock, though, said he is slightly worried about embarrassing himself, so much so that he's not sure if he'll be able to watch the episodes because he'll have to watch himself.
"When I was at Red Deer College I was also a grad student at McGill University and I was trying to do this project on video so I'd keep videotaping myself and micing myself in practice," Babcock said. "Every day we'd get right to the end and I'd say something like, 'No skill, no drill.' It would be something stupid. (I) just couldn't get through it. So I don't like my chances."
Babcock also said he prefers the dressing room to remain a sanctuary that belongs only to the team, but he's prepared for "24/7" to change that for the next month or so. He also thinks it'll be worth it.
"I think there are some things in life that should be private, but people believe '24/7' is good for the game and I'm all about the game," Babcock said. "What I have is because of the game; pretty hard to complain about it."
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