The Toronto Maple Leafs and Amazon are hard at work promoting their new docuseries: All or Nothing. The only thing missing is a red-carpet preview complete with photographers and entertainment reporters lined up as the actors appear for an early viewing. I will not be watching, and it doesn’t matter how many players promote it or how many Amazon ads follow me around online.
I’ve watched every game for as long as I can remember. Covering the Maple Leafs for The Hockey Writers means I’ve listened to every interview for the past two seasons, too. I’ve tuned in before and after games to hear the latest information. I also read what my colleagues post and what other observers write about the blue and white. So, a lot of people don’t believe me when I say that I won’t watch. But, as the release date draws closer, I’m reinforcing my stance to not view this production.
Maple Leafs 2020-21 Season Funeral
Do you know the saying about not looking away from a car crash? There is some fascinating science about our brains being drawn to tragedy. But seeing something terrible happen and knowing that something horrible will happen is different. When was the last time you replayed a funeral? To me, that’s what this story is, four to five sombre hours that lead to an unfortunate and untimely death. I don’t need to rewatch it; I was there. I saw all the jaw-dropping plays, the incredible goals and the motivating speeches. I also saw the incomprehensible losses, the gut-wrenching disappointment, and the tearful interviews. This is not something I need to see again.
We all know the Maple Leafs Lose
When James Cameron created the movie Titanic, he didn’t write about a boat and an iceberg. He made it about two fictional characters who fall in love during a short and doomed trip. If the movie was about the tragic voyage, documenting the incredible size of the ship and the number of disastrous mistakes made, it would not have translated into a box office sensation. There are several documentaries about the Titanic, and they didn’t rake in $2.2 billion. I remember watching that film in the theatre and feeling a bit deceived into sitting through a three-hour romance movie. The whole time I was thinking, this isn’t going to end well. The ship is going to sink, right?
Sure enough, it hit an iceberg and went down. Guess what? The good ship Maple Leafs hit an iceberg during the 2020-21 season known as the playoffs, and it sinks too. Many non-romance movie-goers watched the Titanic to see the special effects of the ship going down. The early responses from non-team viewers of the shows a similar reaction. I didn’t see anything on my Twitter feed about the first couple of months of the season, the shutouts, the goals, etc.
No, I read people’s reactions to the ending. People are always drawn to tragedy. Unfortunately, the end has been the worst part of the Maple Leafs seasons for a while now. And the whole time watching this five-part series, you will know this will not end well.
Maple Leafs Offer Insight to Team
The Leaf Blueprint has given fans behind the scenes access for years. Sure, it’s produced by the team, so the short videos are only what the franchise wants people to see. However, these Amazon docu-series do give a level of editorial control to the teams they are featuring that season. So, there is not much difference. In fact, I’d argue it’s more likely the Leafs’ Blueprint offers better insight. Those videographers and producers are with the team all the time and have been for years. The players and coaches would have to be more comfortable talking to them. The latest episode detailed how the team wants to change the narrative.
Way way back, there was a show released on VHS titled: The Passion Returns. It sounds like a romance movie, but it was the 1993 Maple Leafs season. Back then, we didn’t have access to the team the way we do now, and there was no such thing as YouTube to rewatch the highlights. So, I did watch that show, just once and then again, several years later. So, maybe decades from now, I’ll watch All or Nothing. However, the 2020-21 Maple Leafs season had its highlights, but in the end, it will be like a lot of events from 2020 – things I’d rather forget.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.