The Toronto Maple Leafs’ brutal start to the season may have been set in motion a long time ago. Possibly as far back as prior to the 2020-21 season. That’s when the club agreed to allow unrestricted access to Amazon camera operators, producers, and writers. The streaming service focused its latest docuseries, All or Nothing, on the Maple Leafs. The cameras are long gone, but NHL insider, Elliotte Friedman, believes the team is still dealing with the aftermath.
On the latest installment of the 32 Thoughts podcast, Friedman said, “I look at what’s happening early in the season. I can’t help but wonder if that series and what came out of it – there’s a hangover on the team.” Friedman thinks too much was put into the public realm, “maybe it’s a hockey thing. I just think that the sanctity of the dressing room in hockey of all the sports I’ve ever covered, and I’ve been fortunate enough to cover a lot of them, I think that the sanctity of the dressing room in hockey has always been considered greater than the other team sports.”
Marner is a Shadow of Himself
Friedman reported that William Nylander and his agent did not like his portrayal and fought to have some segments removed from the series. But the insider believes the docuseries had the biggest and most negative impact on Mitch Marner. He has two assists in eight games to start the season, he’s been demoted from the top line and moved on the powerplay.
Amazon focused on Marner, especially around Game 7, when Toronto lost to the Montreal Canadiens. “You’re (Marner) sitting there, and you’re thinking, ‘OK, like the fans are all over me,’ and this kind of gets put out there. I haven’t stopped thinking since this season started. I’ve seen Marner really struggling because he can’t make plays that he can make in his sleep; I’m just wondering if this is all part of it.”
32 Thoughts co-host Jeff Marek thinks the Maple Leafs’ front office should have been prepared for the fall-out, “if you’re Brendan Shanahan or Kyle Dubas I think you’re folly to think that this won’t affect your team in some way. I think you go into this knowing that there’s going to be some effect. You just cross your fingers and hope it is not going to be detrimental to your squad. So far, if you want to draw this relationship between the Amazon piece and the Maple Leafs’ start, so far it’s been horrible for the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
Despite Toronto’s issues and how the team was portrayed in the series, Marek said the Montreal Canadiens want to be the subject of the next All or Nothing show. “I do wonder at the same time if teams might have cause for pause considering what’s happened to Maple Leafs early on this season after this thing came out.”
More All Access Shows in Demand
However, both analysts believe this is the kind of access expected and demanded from sports fans. “I think this is a growing pain,” said Marek. “I’m with you, the sanctity of a dressing room has always been a big deal in hockey, but I think those walls are coming down. It’s made people feel uncomfortable in the game. It’s made players, it’s made coaches, it’s made general managers, team presidents, whoever uncomfortable, but we’re headed that way anyway. You can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube.”
That said, the hosts seemed genuinely concerned about Marner. If their theory is true, then players should have more say about access teams allow to cameras and producers in the future. After all, it’s the players who make the show, and it’s the players who are seemingly suffering from the aftermath.
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.