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Quest for the Stanley Cup 2021 debriefing

The ultimate episode of any “Quest for the Stanley Cup” season is all the time an emotional one. Episode 7 of this yr’s version, titled “Lightning Strikes Twice,” was no exception.

From the tense Recreation 5 win by the Tampa Bay Lightning to teach Jon Cooper’s heartfelt congratulations to the Montreal Canadiens within the handshake line to the boyish glee the gamers had in elevating their second straight Cup, the seventh chapter of the collection was its passionate apex.

It additionally made room for postgame celebrations within the Lightning locker room — together with a shirtless Nikita Kucherov getting a champagne bathe earlier than giving his now-infamous postgame information convention:

Nevertheless it was far more than that, because the episode echoed again to earlier chapters, closing the off-ice storylines that the producers had established by means of the playoffs to nice payoffs.

“We had a couple of objectives going into this season. One was to essentially strike a steadiness between the ice vs. the off-ice motion,” govt producer David Examine informed ESPN on Friday. “As a result of we’re working with a workforce like Tampa, we had been in a position to obtain that.”

We spoke with Examine concerning the season finale and requested him a few of your lingering questions concerning the collection. Please be sure to watch Episode 7 earlier than studying this as it’s heavy on spoilers as we talk about particular scenes within the finale.

Thanks for watching “Quest for the Stanley Cup” together with us on ESPN+ this postseason.

ESPN: Essentially the most emotional second of the collection is on this episode. Pat Maroon and Ryan McDonagh take the Stanley Cup round their neighborhood on a golf cart. They cease at a home with an enormous “GO BOLTS!” signal on the entrance. They arrive to seek out out {that a} 23-year-old Lightning fan handed away final yr and his mom explains that she believes he was watching over the workforce. Gotta admit: We cried, identical to Maroon does right here. How did that come collectively?

Examine: It was a random home. It was full spontaneity mode. They had been like “let’s simply knock and see what occurs.” They had been in nice spirits. All of them simply began to maneuver round [the house] after which there wasn’t a dry eye. It was such an emotional second. You are not the one one which reacted that approach. I spoke to the director of pictures who informed me he bought emotional whereas capturing it. You clearly noticed that Maroon was very moved by the second too.

ESPN: There are such a lot of callbacks to earlier episodes right here, nearly like you could have storylines that get wrapped up: Maroon in his neighborhood, McDonagh and the espresso store, the bookends of the collection with Jon Cooper at his swimming pool with a cigar. Are you filming these vignettes figuring out that if the Lightning win, you may shut the loop on these tales?

Examine: We had been actually happy that it materialized that approach. Some was success and a few of it was planning and producing. You are 100% cognizant that once you’re capturing early on about how nice it may very well be to come back again and pay that off. It is aspirational. The NHL is just not scripted.

You take a look at Blake Coleman, assembly his new child earlier within the collection. He bought to see his new child once more throughout the postgame celebrations. You already know, the primary off-ice ingredient that we shot was with Cooper smoking the cigar on the pool and mirrored on how the Lightning received final yr. The truth that we had been in a position to come full circle and finish the collection that approach? We are able to solely plan a lot. However the truth that the Lightning received, as quickly as they did, we knew that was one thing we wished to seize. And Cooper, fortuitously sufficient, could be very gracious with our crew.

The important thing to those reveals being profitable is the group that is modifying it and the group that is out within the area and having these two teams speaking continually. Episode 7 is the manifestation of these collective efforts.

ESPN: There’s one other key to creating this successful, which is a keen participant. You get various ranges of entry from groups, and generally it is as a result of they’re fearful that the filming may very well be a distraction. Nicely, listed here are the Lightning, winners of the final two Stanley Cup, they usually swung the doorways open for you.

Examine: The reply is easy. The Lightning get it. They only get it.

As a workforce, they had been extremely access-friendly, which enabled us to do our job successfully. The crew that was embedded with the Lightning turned prolonged family members, to the purpose the place Victor Hedman walks into the body early within the season and says, “Hey, you are again, you are our good luck appeal.” That bodes effectively for entry. If Victor Hedman believes that, I think about quite a lot of different members of the workforce do too. If we’re mixing into the background, then these are the outcomes.

I’ve to provide the NHL a ton of credit score, too. I’ve labored on these reveals for different sports activities. A stage of entry is embedded into [hockey] tradition. We’re wiring refs. We’re wiring gamers and coaches. That is a part of it. I give quite a lot of credit score to the NHL for fostering that ambiance. That makes reveals like this potential.

ESPN: There’s all the time one shot each episode that blows me away. The one you bought of Brendan Gallagher, moments after being teary-eyed in a press convention, strolling out of the sector following Recreation 5 and passing an enormous video display screen of the Lightning celebrating; that is simply spectacular.

Examine: With the ability to nail a shot like that could be a particular expertise and one which’s cast by means of being a high-level [director of photography] but additionally being in these environments and having that have. Steve Lamme, who captured that shot you are referring to, has shot plenty of Stanley Cup Finals and has developed a sixth sense for capturing these pictures.

I totally acknowledge that we’re spoiled. There aren’t many DPs that would have composed that shot like Steve did.

ESPN: We requested a few of our readers to submit questions they’d concerning the season. Nick wants to know: “How was it working with Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello? Did he enable similar entry behind the scenes for the Isles that different groups did?”

Examine: We work in live performance with the NHL and have sure entry pointers. Wiring gamers, wiring coaches. The Islanders adhered to that. We bought what we wanted from the Islanders.

ESPN: There have been plenty of questions on why the faces of Montreal Canadiens gamers weren’t proven within the dressing room. I am fairly positive this wasn’t simply an inventive selection, proper?

Examine: We’re nonetheless coping with COVID. There are particular protocols. We had been coping with a Canadian workforce within the Stanley Cup Remaining, and we had been crossing borders to shoot. There are totally different protocols in Canada than there are within the U.S. at this level. We tried our greatest to toe the road and cling to those protocols. That is how we executed.

If you’re in a locker room of that ilk and the coach took his masks off, the gamers had been presupposed to have their masks on. In order that was one thing that we had been delicate to.

ESPN: Rebecca wants to know why you do not begin the present within the first spherical.

Examine: That is simply how the schedule landed this yr. However we additionally do the maths: Doing eight first-round matchups vs. doing 4 second-round matchups. You are able to do the maths. It is a totally different value level to execute that present, nevertheless it’s one thing that will probably be mentioned.

ESPN: Tony wants to know if gamers and groups had a say in what goes on the air, or in the event you management the content material.

Examine: There are particular guardrails, however we have realized from producing the present what is appropriate and what’s not. However I’d say that the NHL has carried out an important job getting a peek behind the scenes. There may be little or no that we take out of the present. There’s quite a lot of content material that’s fairly uncooked. There’s not a scarcity of fabric for us to work with, that is for positive.

ESPN: Lastly, the most important problem for the present was in all probability final postseason within the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles, however I am positive there have been nonetheless challenges for this season. What had been a few of them?

Examine: Even within the States, there have been sure COVID protocols that we adhered to. You may discover that almost each off-ice function that we shot with a participant was outside. Except the video games, if we had been capturing with gamers, we had been outside.

It wasn’t essentially a problem, it was a inventive framework on how we did the shoots, and being respectful of the truth that whereas we made nice strides with COVID, there have been nonetheless protocols we needed to adhere to.

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