The long awaited Toronto Maple Leafs Amazon Prime series has been released. The series gave fans an inside look on the team’s latest season but more importantly, their latest first round playoff exit. It detailed key moments such as COVID-19 protocols, trade deadline day and of course, John Tavares’ terrifying playoff injury.
With this inside view at the Leafs season we were able to understand more about the ups and downs of the Maple Leafs’ last season. Here are my biggest takeaways.
Joe Thornton is as Cool as We Thought
What more can you say about Jumbo? He really is the most fun. There’s a reason he hasn’t retired yet and it’s because he thrives in the locker room environment. You can tell that he is energized by the guys and the sport. He kept things light and fun at all times while still being professional. The scene of him driving home from practice listening to Brian Burke one Sportsnet 590 The Fan discuss how he wasn’t the best use of money for the Leafs was one of the highlights of the whole series. I hope this attitude rubs off on some of the younger Maple Leafs so they can block out the negative noise.
Jumbo may seem like nothing phases him but he definitely gets angry when someone goes for his knees, Nikolaj Ehlers, I’m looking at you. He is also probably the only player in the league that can yell at the ref they way he did and not get an extra penalty for it. That’s on being one of the most respected players in the entire league. I’m going to miss Joe’s presence this season. Watching this made me more sad about losing him (purely from a personality standpoint, I understand his production wasn’t worth keeping him).
Jack Campbell Should be Protected at all Costs
Very few players but as much pressure on themselves as Jack Campbell does. His road to the Leafs was a long one but he seems to have found his place in Toronto. Following the game 7 loss to Montreal, his tears were absolutely heartbreaking. He took so much of that loss on himself but he deserved so much better. After such a successful season, it was difficult to see it end that way. Here’s to hoping we see his light of a smile all season long.
Sheldon Keefe and Kyle Dubas are the Stars of the Show
It is vital to a franchise that the coach and GM have a strong bond. If you didn’t believe in Dubas and Keefe’s Sault Ste Marie connection, you should now after watching the series. These two are tight and make most decisions together. When Keefe went to Dubas before confronting Auston Matthews about his comments in the media, it showed their necessity to lean on each other.
Dubas’ trade deadline dealmaking was something I never expected to see. While it would have been nice to hear Jarmo Kekäläinen’s side of the Nick Foligno trade conversation, hearing Dubas work through his draft picks made for an interesting scene. He was determined to get the players he wanted and Dubas did just that.
Keefe’s pre overtime speech in game 6 was one of the best scenes of the entire series. He gave it all he had and wanted his players to do the same. He knew the stakes of that overtime and needed to make it known to his players. He was right, unfortunately those were the moments that his players were remembered for during the off season.
In the end, Dubas and Keefe did everything they could to set their team up for success. It was up to the players to step up and make it happen. They have a plan and Leaf fans should trust in this duo.
Actually, the Kids and Dogs of the Toronto Maple Leafs are the Real Stars
Over the course of the series, we met many of the kids and dogs of the Maple Leafs. From Leo Dubas and Jace Tavares to Mila Bogosian and Milana Foligno, these kids got their fair share of screen time. The scenes such as Dubas on the ice with Leo and While they may be “high status” to us, to the children, they are just Dad.
Who doesn’t love a cute dog or two? Many of the Leafs are also dog dads. Felix Matthews and Zeus Marner stole the show as most dogs tend to do. They seem to be buzzing with energy like their Dads are when they hit the offensive zone.
The John Tavares Injury had a Bigger Impact than we will Ever Understand
Seeing John Tavares’ injury replayed in episode 5 brought me right back to that moment when it initially happened in game 1. Seeing Dubas run down to the ice and hearing the team try to calm their captain down was heart wrenching. When Keefe mentioned he wasn’t sure if they should continue the game, it really put things into perspective. These guys were expected to play a game without any true update on the status of Tavares and after witnessing what they did, I’m sure that’s all they could think about. They wanted to win for their leader but the shock that the injury sent them into was too much to push past.
As Much as we Hated the Playoffs, the Team Hated it More
I never want to hear the narrative that theses Leafs didn’t care anymore. They care deeply, at least more of them do. The reactions following the series against Montreal were not those of players who didn’t care. They knew what was coming once they left the safety of their room and had to face the world again. The emotion we saw after that loss is indicative of the defeat felt within the walls of that change room.
I genuinely expected to be more angry about the playoff loss than I already was but this series helped me to see beyond the ice. The struggles players dealt with were evident and makes it harder to be upset. It reignites my classic Leafs fan hope ahead of this next season. The series was incredibly well done and offered a more in depth view than I think most people expected. Only time will tell if the Leafs or another team decide to do this type of series again.