New York Rangers, get ready for your close-up.
Monday night marks the beginning of HBO's full-time filming of its reality show "24/7" leading up to the NHL's annual Winter Classic game January 2. The ubiquitous camera crews will be granted unfettered access in chronicling both the Rangers and Flyers activities for the next four weeks. The first episode -- one of four installments -- debuts December 14.
How do the Rangers feel about all the extra attention?
"I don't want to use the word 'annoying' but it's going to take some getting used to," assistant captain Brad Richards said. "Some guys will be different than others. Some will not pay attention and do their own thing and some will embrace it."
Richards has a pretty good idea of which category he falls into -- "I don't think I'll be in front of the cameras too much," he said with a smile -- but said he isn't worried about the extra spotlight causing distraction.
"Can't be. Can't do anything about it. We knew they were coming. We knew they were going to be part of the Winter Classic," he said. "We've had many other opportunities to get distracted this year and we've done a pretty good job, so this will be no different."
Head Coach John Tortorella, who recently called the crews a "pain the ass" in the series' 12-minute teaser, said he trusts his team will maintain focus and wants them to embrace the opportunity.
"I think athletes are entertainers. I think they're going to enjoy it, but I also trust our guys that they know what we're doing here," he said. "I trust our players and I want them to enjoy this as a once-in-a-lifetime experience also."
Most players have heard what to expect -- injured Rangers forward Mike Rupp participated as part of the Pittsburgh Penguins squad last year -- but they also got a preview of what it will be like last Saturday, when crews arrived to film the first Flyers-Rangers game of the season.
Tough guy Brandon Prust, who fought Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo four seconds after the puck was dropped, was one of the players wearing a mic during the Rangers' 2-0 win.
"You've got to keep it a little cleaner than you would with 20 guys in the locker room. There are probably going to be kids watching." Prust said.
That may be tough for the feisty winger, but Prust said he'll trust in the editing process.
"I know I do a lot of swearing during the game, but I know they can edit that stuff," he said. "And I lost the puck a few times that game so I know I was cursing then."
Center Brian Boyle already figured out an easy way around that:
"I told my mom she couldn't watch until it's in re-runs."