The Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot of friendly and kind people. Topping the nice list has to be Hayley Wickenheiser, M.D., from hockey hero to hero on the front lines of health care. In fact, forget doing another Amazon All of Nothing docu-series; this team should star in a Christmas Hallmark movie. While we wait for that, let’s recast some Maple Leafs in the holiday favourites.
Jack Campbell – Buddy in Elf
Everyone knows that Jack Campbell is the nicest person on the team, in the league, and perhaps worldwide. So this is not too much or a stretch to image Campbell exchanging his goalie equipment for Buddy’s uniform.
Recently, Campbell described the moment that he was out of position and the shooter missed the net, “definitely a little prayer, and I let out of a little scream, ahh!” Of course, that’s not what you’d expect a goalie to say, but it does match with the words Buddy says like, “ouch, son of a nutcracker.”
Also, you may recall Campbell talking about having fun all the time, “we laugh and smile, it’s great.” When Buddy gets in trouble for smiling on the job, he says, “I just like to smile. Smiling is my favourite.” Perhaps Campbell is Buddy already.
Sheldon Keefe is John McClane in Die Hard
If you watched All or Nothing, you know the Maple Leafs’ head coach likes the f-bomb. I have little doubt that Sheldon Keefe has used John McClane’s saying, “Yippe Ki, Yay…” you know the rest. But he earned this role for his tenacity with the team and dealing with everything else that comes with being a coach in Toronto.
There’s a memorable scene when McClane is barefoot walking across glass. That must be what it’s like to face the media and the critics daily. Keefe is as tough as McClane and would stare down any bad guy.
Jake Muzzin is Yukon Cornelius in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Jake Muzzin’s appearance alone is enough to match this character. However, he also matches Yukon Cornelius for his heart. Cornelius helps Rudolph in the classic 1964 movie, similar to how Muzzin and his wife Courtney help animals. As a result, they’ve fostered countless four-legged furry friends to give them a second chance.
Kyle Dubas is Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Kyle Dubas gets the Clark Griswold role due to his all-around nice guy persona. The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation follows the crazy antics of Griswold and his family preparing for a big holiday celebration. But no matter what Griswold does, something goes wrong – sound familiar? He spends all of his time trying to make everyone happy no matter the cost – sound familiar? Dubas may look like Ralphie in the Christmas story, but he is Griswold.
Auston Matthews is Kevin McAllister in Home Alone
One of the most recognizable movie posters of all time is Home Alone, due to Kevin McAllister’s unforgettable facial expression. That expression was recently reenacted by the league’s reigning Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner. Auston Matthews was mic’ed up when Jason Spezza scored, and Matthews had a McAllister-like expression when Spezza got back to the bench.
One expression doesn’t lock in the sniper for the role. Matthews seals up this one due to his relentless efforts to beat the bad guys, sometimes on his own.
John Tavares is Howard Langston in Jingle All the Way
Jingle All the Way follows Howard Langston’s (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) efforts to save Christmas and find his son’s unfindable toy, Turbo Man. Somehow Langston becomes Turbo Man. Anyway, it’s no secret that John Tavares is a health nut, with diets that Schwarzenegger has likely tried at some point, but he earns this role for his real-life superhero work. Tavares and his wife Aryne have the John Tavares Foundation that helps “create bright futures” for kids.
Morgan Rielly – Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” is the song used at the end of the 1965 classic movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas. The characters sing the song when Charlie Brown sees his little sapling has turned into a giant Christmas tree. It’s also the song that should’ve been playing when Morgan Rielly signed an eight-year, $60 million extension – at far under league value. He also matches this character in his efforts to work together to make everyone feel better.
Casting him in this role is a bit of a stretch, but it’s more about what Rielly has meant to the organization. We’ve watched him develop into a big part of the team, much like the sapling growing to become a big tree.
Mitch Marner is Gizmo in Gremlins
In 2017, Mitch Marner, whose charity is the Marner Assist Fund, had a photo that made the rounds on the web. The way he was positioned and the look on his face made the then 19-year-old look even younger. He was photoshopped into other situations. Even Matthews got in on it and put his winger in a photo getting on a school bus.
Marner has had that cute, innocent Gizmo-like feeling at different times in his Leafs’ career, but we’ve also seen the other side of Marner, the somewhat less kind and cuddly version, like the nasty Gremlins that show up if the rules are not followed.
William Nylander is Ralphie in A Christmas Story
This choice is by appearance alone, put a pair of those big black-framed glasses on William Nylander, and you have Ralphie in a Christmas Story. Also, this movie was partially filmed in Canada, which fits Nylander’s dual citizenship.
Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza are Harv and Marv in Home Alone
Yeah, we are stretching it here but hear me out. Other than being the so-called bad guys in Home Alone, Harv and Marv do whatever it takes to try to get the job done. Despite the repeated setback, injuries, and failures, these two guys just keep coming back for more.
Then there is the Grinch and Scrooge, both played by Gary Bettman, but since this is a Christmas-related article and I don’t want to get removed from the nice list, I will not get into why that’s the perfect fit. Now back to the eggnog and watching more Christmas movies about people trying to be as lovely as Jack Campbell.
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.