HBO 24/7 Penguins-Capitals might soften your stance on Cooke

Will Zachary and Tyler Savard someday have to keep their eyes peeled for Jackson Cooke on the ice?

If you watched tonight’s series premier of “24/7 Penguins-Capitals” on HBO, you know Marc Savard’s sons might someday meet up with the spawn of their dad’s arch-nemesis Matt Cooke.

The first episode of hockey’s version of “Hard Knocks” was nothing short of scintillating. From the F-bomb-filled speeches spewed by Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau to the on-plane video game battles between Max Talbot, Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury, the show — as expected — lived up to the hype and gave viewers an unprecedented look behind the scenes at an NHL team’s on- and off-ice regimen.

HBO obviously lucked out that the juxtaposition between Pittsburgh’s hot streak and Washington’s struggle provided the opportunity to show everyone how both halves live. Of course, now the Penguins have dropped a couple games this week, so the drama should be even better for Episode Two next Wednesday.

As for Cooke, who conveniently did not have his laundry list of players (including Savard) he has cheap-shotted read on the show, this series might be another case of a television close-up softening public opinion about a player. Cooke is still a dirtbag, but he’s a little more human after seeing him grow, and then shave, his mustache, as part of Pittsburgh’s shootout contest. Like Chad Ocho Cinco and Tony Romo on “Hard Knocks” before him, Cooke might be able to win me over if he shows his softer side over the next few episodes and maybe even seems contrite about some of his on-ice antics.

Of course, we know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. During the team’s on-ice Christmas party, complete with kids and significant others, we hear that young Jackson Cooke has speared Talbot. Will the son follow in the father’s footsteps someday? Could be. And maybe he’ll cross paths with Savard’s offspring and they’ll tangle. One thing we definitely know: neither  Nathan Horton nor his son will come to Savard’s rescue. If you saw the end of Boston’s loss to Buffalo tonight, you know what I mean.

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