Randy Carlyle won’t watch HBO’s 24/7 until the series is over.
Of course that doesn’t mean he’s ignoring it. That’s actually rather impossible given the behind-the-scenes access to the Toronto Maple Leafs the network is getting.
“It’s not normal what we’re living right now,” Carlyle said Friday. “These people are professional people, they try to make it as easy as possible. But it’s not easy to sit and give a team meeting and have a team meeting with a camera and a microphone. It’s just not normal for us. We’ve never had to do that.”
It’s a whole new world the Leafs and Detroit Red Wings have been living in during the lead-up to the Winter Classic. Carlyle had his reservations about the intrusiveness of the process before the camera crew arrived, but he has also justified it as part of the deal that comes with being in Toronto.
Working through it is the challenge.
“I’ve talked about white noise and I’ve talked about distraction and this is just another one for us,” Carlyle said. “It’s hard in some ways to blame people for not paying attention to it or not being attached to it, but on the other hand, we have a job to do.”
A few players said they weren’t bothered by the HBO cameras after getting used to their presence earlier this month.
“They’re pretty good at hiding and staying in the background,” defenceman Carl Gunnarsson said.
Goaltender James Reimer agreed, pointing out that his job and those of his teammates aren’t affected nearly as much as Carlyle’s.
“I think it’s, honestly, worse for the coaches,” Reimer said. “For us we just kind of do what we normally do. I don’t think it does disrupt too much, but I think when you’re talking and giving the team whatever if it’s a pump-up message or just talking about the game and having the camera right in your kitchen, I think it’s honestly more awkward and harder for them than it is for us.
“I know that if I had to talk to a team with a camera in my face, that would be more distracting.”
In addition to praising the professionalism of HBO employees, Carlyle said they’ve respected his privacy when he requested it.
“But it’s just not normal,” he added. “It’s not a normal everyday thing that we’re accustomed to, and it does take some getting used to.”
Unlike Carlyle, Reimer watched the first episode last week and enjoyed it. As for not helping Carlyle with his toaster dilemma, a talking point in the first episode, the Leafs goaltender didn’t feel too badly about it.
“I didn’t know what to do, either,” Reimer said. “I didn’t know what was going on. It was above my education level.”