Rather than take the latest stab at defining what went wrong with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2006-07 season, We hand over the butcher knife to major-league Leafs fan Â– and, with all due respect to Jason Bateman, the real star of Arrested Development Â– Will Arnett:
The Leafs won’t win the Stanley Cup for the 40th straight season. That sucks. But it doesn’t mean my optimism that the Cup will return to its rightful home has stopped.
Hell, no. I’m more of a fan of the Leafs now than ever. I am an uber-fan. My home page on my computer is MapleLeafs.com. And since I’ve been living outside of Canada, I’ve probably missed only 15-20 Leafs games in the last five years.
I live primarily in New York, but my wife, Amy Poehler Â– who appears with me as my figure-skating dance partner in Â“Blades of GloryÂ” Â– and I have an apartment in Los Angeles and I’ve got the Centre Ice satellite package in both places. And I watch every game Â– even if I get home late at night and I’ve got to be back at work early the next morning, I’ll zip through the games at twice the speed.
(Amy is a Leafs fan, too; that’s the tradeoff we made Â– she’d become a Leafs fan as long as I became a Boston Red Sox fan.)
I’m currently working on a project with a guy from London, Ont., and we were talking about the greatest team on earth. I told him I was really encouraged, because they’ve got all these young guys coming up, John Pohl and Matt Stajan, Alex Steen and Ian White. The guy says to me, Â“Man, you are such a Leafs fan Â– you’re already thinking optimistically about next year!Â”
He was right. Optimism is part of the culture, and I think what makes a Leafs fan a Leafs fan is their eternal hopefulness. There’s very little cynicism and from a young age you’re injected with this sense things will improve.
In fact, I would even venture to say Leafs fans are more likely to be successful at business. That’s a highly reliable conclusion I came to using a guess and a gut feeling.
I really can’t help being a diehard Leafs fan. I’m a Toronto city boy through and through. I wanted to be a goalie when I was a kid and played net Â‘till I was 14, so Mike Palmateer was one of my favorites, as well as Borje Salming, Darryl Sittler and Lanny McDonald.
My ritual on Saturday night, if I didn’t have a game of my own, was to go to the TV room, turn on Hockey Night in Canada, and sometimes I’d strap my goalie pads over my pajamas and mimic the saves.
Sorry ladies, I’m already taken.
Current favorite Leafs? Darcy Tucker is one. He’s a true-blue Leaf, and I was so psyched when he re-signed. He plays with such passion and emotion, leads by example, sticks up for his teammates, does whatever you need him to.
You can’t talk enough about the Leafs’ young guys. Carlo Colaiacovo is unreal Â– if he stays healthy, he’s going to have a big-time career. And there’s nobody in the league who carries the puck out of his zone like Tomas Kaberle.
Speaking of Kaberle, when Cam Janssen took him out, that made me nuts. But how about Tucker coming out of the dressing room and threatening Janssen when Tucker wasn’t even playing? Did I mention how awesome Darcy Tucker is?
And I can’t forget about the big Swede, Mats Sundin. He’s amazing, too.
I have lots of buddies in the States who are from different parts of Canada. As such, they’re not all Leafs fans. One friend is from Vancouver, and he hates the Leafs.
He went to the University of Western Ontario and says he loved it there. Except for all the Leafs fans. He thinks we’re all so pompous and to me, that’s hilarious, because our team hasn’t won anything in 40 years.
I think what bothers him the most is the fact I don’t hate the Canucks. It makes him crazy, because he thinks I’m not giving his team the proper respect. I’ll agree with him on a lot of things Â– Â“Yeah dude, you’re right, the Sedins sure do play well together; Roberto Luongo should definitely be up for MVP,Â” Â– and he gets incensed. He’s like, Â“You should hate them!Â” And I say, Â“Nah, they’re not really my rivals.Â”
Sometimes people ask me about doing a movie where I’m actually playing hockey on the ice, rather than Â“Blades of GloryÂ”, where I’m skating around in frilly, completely ridiculous costumes.
I’d love to. I know there’s another Â“Slap ShotÂ” floating around Hollywood. They want to remake it, but that’s a tough sell for me. It was so great, so iconic, I don’t know how you’d improve on it.
But I’d love to do something about a hard-drinking, hard-living minor league team from Kenora, Ont. There’d be a lot of comedy there. Either that, or a movie re-enacting my beloved Leafs as they end their 40-year Stanley Cup drought in 2007-08.
Â“The Maple Leafs Miracle.Â” Man, I’d kill to be a part of that.
– with Adam Proteau
Will Arnett currently can be seen in Blades of Glory with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler.