Ever wonder what it would be like to see the Arizona Coyotes like never before? See them away from the games, practices and post-game interviews? Now you have your chance as FOX Sports Arizona is going to give you a behind the scenes look at the Coyotes with the three-part series "Building The Pack." Other teams have had their moments on series like HBO's 24/7 or NBC's NHL36, and now it is Arizona's turn.
We talked to Graham Taylor, who produces all the Coyotes games for FS-AZ and is overseeing production on this endeavor, about how the series came to be and what Coyotes fans should expect.
FFH: Hockey fans have gotten a glimpse behind the scenes with shows like 24/7. Will "Building The Pack" be similar?
Graham Taylor: "Building the Pack" is FOX Sports Arizona's look at the Arizona Coyotes - and Coyotes training camp - like nobody has ever seen before. I know Coyotes fans will really enjoy this behind the scenes look at the team, its personalities, preparation and practice and game action in a way they've never had access to before.
FFH: What inspired FS-AZ to make this series?
GT: A show like this is something FOX Sports Arizona has talked about doing for a long time - and the Coyotes shared our same vision. It's the kind of thing that geeks us production folks out. When the Coyotes agreed to let us do it this year, we jumped at the opportunity. Because of our partnership with the team, they had full confidence we could showcase the Coyotes better than anyone else. The manpower it takes is staggering...we have videographers, field producers, editors, sound technicians, colorists, sales staff, etc. working around the clock to get this ready - oh, and all with a 77-game slate of games starting on FOX Sports Arizona and FOX Sports Arizona Plus beginning Thursday night.
FFH: How much access was FS-AZ granted in terms of practices, dressing room, coaching rooms, etc.?
GT: Access was nearly unlimited. There are some areas that we simply wouldn't want to go out of respect for the team and the people that make up the organization - they can't live 3 weeks in a fishbowl and be expected to live a normal life. But we had cameras and microphones in the dressing room, coaches rooms, games, practices, charter flights - we traveled to Canada twice, bus trips, homes, cars, buses, hotels and at team outings in a few different cities this pre-season.
FFH: How much of the final roster decision making process will fans see?
GT: When a player tries out for an NHL team, he puts his heart and soul into that effort. Management and the coaching staff knows that, and out of respect for that process, there are discussions we were not a part of. We've seen on other shows and media events that even with the best intentions, those conversations can inadvertently be taken out of context or simply mis-represented. That being said, the players who were cut during training camp did talk to us - openly and honestly - and those comments will be heard on "Building the Pack." The one thing that became very evident in those conversations is that the staff in Arizona treated those players very professionally, and were very honest and constructive with their decision-making. Any player who was cut knows EXACTLY what he needs to do to make this NHL team in the future, and those players, at one of the harder moments of their careers, all came out very optimistic for their futures.
FFH: Is there anything that surprised you in the process of making of this series?
GT: Having been around the team in some capacity since 1999, I've been pretty fortunate to meet some interesting characters, some quality, professional people, and be a part of some intense moments. The biggest surprise has been just how open the players were to us being in their kitchen, so to speak. No complaints, no reservations, and a real genuine appreciation for what we are doing. I think they recognize the hard work our crew put in - it's a quality respected above many others in the hockey world - and it's refreshing to see the trust they put in us and the help they provided in putting this show together.
FFH: What is the one thing Coyotes fans should take away from the "Building The Pack" series?
GT: I think Coyotes fans will take away a few things; from the amount of hard work and dedication that goes into getting ready for a season, to the incredible logistics that go into the day-to-day around a hockey team, to the really great group of people who are under those helmets. But if there's ONE thing fans will take away, is that this group of players is dedicated to this team and its success. Getting to know most of them better is great...but you won't be able to watch this show without getting a better understanding of the goals they're working towards.
You can follow Graham Taylor on Twitter at @goldencanuck
Episode one premieres on Monday night on FS-AZ at 7 p.m. Episode two premieres Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Episode three airs on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. For a full list of replay times click HERE.