One-on-One with Ross Greenburg on the EPIX Road to the NHL Stadium Series

It’s been a wild three weeks for the LA Kings and San Jose Sharks.

As the two teams continue to battle for a playoff berth, they’ve also been preparing for their outdoor game at Levi’s Stadium Saturday.

And as an added bonus for fans, this year’s Stadium Series game is getting a behind the scenes treatment that showcases how each team operates.

GaborikWinkEPIXHow the Kings operate.

ThorntonJock2EPIXHow the Sharks operate.

The four-part EPIX Road to the NHL Stadium Series has provided unparalleled access to the Kings and Sharks. Through the wins, losses, injuries and zoo trips, the EPIX cameras have been there to document everything for fans.

With the first three episodes completed, the stage has been set for Saturday. And the final episode of the series will air Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. PST.

We were fortunate enough to get a chance to talk to Ross Greenburg, executive producer of the EPIX series, who shared his thoughts on the series so far, the process in creating the show and plenty of Kings-centric topics.

On the decision to feature the LA Kings and San Jose Sharks

“This was really the brain child of John Collins and the NHL. They decided they were going to do a second stadium game and once the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks were deemed to be the two teams who would participate at Levi’s Stadium, the thought was that we should do a similar four-part series to showcase these two teams.”

On the differences between creating the EPIX series for the Winter Classic and the Stadium Series

“The beginning, middle and end are there to pick up these teams in the regular season and we have the beautiful ending of this spectacle that will be Saturday night  so it really has a similar pace and tone to it. We’ve had the kind of access that we need from both teams to get into those locker rooms, trainers rooms, homes and see them with their loved ones to understand pain of losing and the thrill of victory. We’re where we want to be and able to show a side of the NHL that no one has ever really seen before.”

On how the crews get the teams to warm up to the cameras

“They get used to us being there and after a couple of days we kind of fit in like the furniture. They really don’t notice us, they get used to our crews, and what happens is the producers and cameramen become part of the family in a way  a part of the traveling road circus. We’ve had very few issues with any teams ever rejecting our crews, so it just works.”

On Darryl Sutter’s absence during the third episode after he was a focal point of the show’s first two episodes

“He was on  we had about five or six shots of him. But you’d have to ask Darryl; he didn’t want to wear a microphone all week and that’s really his call. We try not to push people if they’re not willing participants. I will say that he was the only one who decided he didn’t want to wear a microphone. As [the viewers saw Tuesday] we had access to all the other players and we just went on our merry way.”

On the lack of locker room footage from Kings games during the third episode

“We got into the locker room. but without your anchor of the coach speaking to the players you lose that intensity in the locker room. So that’s what we were missing. We had shots, we just didn’t have [Sutter] giving his pre-game or in-game speeches.”

On the absence of Mike Richards from the series

“It deserved to be in the first episode just as a backdrop. He was [waived] before we were really embedded with the team. In hindsight, we should have addressed it in that first episode. Beyond that, it didn’t come up as a recurring story. To be honest, and this happens in professional sports: Out of sight, out of mind. Once a player is not part of the team in that regard  traveling with them on a daily basis  it’s forgotten. The team has to move on and concentrate so hard on the upcoming games and their process of practicing, studying and working that they have to go with who’s there. They don’t obsess over Mike Richards or any player who’s not part of the team. [The players] will tell you that goes for guys who are out injured as well.”

On the absence of Dean Lombardi from the series

“We’ve stayed away from the management of both teams in this series. In both cases  and I can’t speak for them individually  but it just seems like they’re not interested in showing their inner-workings. And I shouldn’t say that about the Sharks. We haven’t really reached out to them.”

On which member of the Kings has been his favorite so far in the series

“What’s really refreshing for me is to show this side of Drew Doughty. I think he’s not only spectacular on the ice, but off the ice he’s refreshing, personable, down-to-earth and just fun to be around. Whether it’s a restaurant lifting up his T-bone steak or playing a game on his dining room table with [Trevor] Lewis, it’s just fun to be around him. I think he’s a special player and a special person. It’s been nice to introduce him to the American public.”

“[Anze] Kopitar has had some great moments in the show as well. He’s got a wry, fun sense of humor and he’s been fun to track. It’s always enjoyable to get close and really give fans an idea of who these people are. They’re not just NHL players who are put up on a pedestal  they’re human beings.”

On who will win the Stadium Series game

“Wow, I can’t even make a prediction on this game… Obviously, you see that even though they didn’t start the series with much, the Kings are on a roll and the Sharks are going the opposite direction. So if you were going to put money down you’d have to say the Kings have an advantage. But it’ll be a home crowd for the Sharks and that tends to impact the game a bit in this kind of atmosphere.”

The Kings and Sharks will face-off Saturday at Levi’s Stadium at 7 p.m.

Be sure to check out all of our EPIX Road to the Stadium Series Recaps!
Episode 1 Recap
Episode 2 Recap
Episode 3 Recap
PumperNicholl is a lifelong LA Kings fan and actually learned how to speak English from Bob Miller by watching LA Kings games… and the Police Academy movies. You should probably follow PumperNicholl on Twitter @pumpernicholl