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Reviewing All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs

A review of the documentary that followed the Leafs during a heartbreaking season
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JESSICA LAM/THE VARSITY
JESSICA LAM/THE VARSITY

The 2021 documentary series All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2021 NHL season. The series shows a side of Leafs players and management that many fans have yet to see while the team looks to achieve their goal: winning the Stanley Cup. The docuseries also debunks many narratives surrounding the team, giving viewers new perspectives on many players while highlighting the criticisms that many fans have had with the Leafs.

My main takeaway from watching All or Nothing is that the narrative that the Leafs run a “country-club atmosphere” is false. From day one of training, head coach Sheldon Keefe preaches “Stanley Cup habits.” The documentary shows how Keefe needs every Leaf to buy in on their mission to win the cup.

Keefe’s nasty side is also shown in All or Nothing. He is not afraid to curse out the team in practice, and he is very blunt. In the series, Keefe calls Jimmy Vesey’s game “vanilla” — meaning simple — to his face. Later, he gets into a heated argument with goalie coach Steve Briere over the performance of Freddy Andersen. 

In my opinion, Kyle Dubas, general manager of the Leafs, is best at creating an environment for his players to succeed. All or Nothing shows that just because he creates this environment, it does not mean that there is a country club atmosphere in Toronto. He clearly demands a lot from his players. Whether he was calling meetings because he was concerned about the fragility of the team after a few losses or trading for Nick Foligno at the trade deadline, Dubas was doing whatever it took to get what the team needed heading into the playoffs. 

All or Nothing reminds me why I fell in love with the 2021 Leafs. The great moments from last season were relived: Jack Campbell’s record-breaking run, Joe Thornton being a Leaf, getting to meet Jason Spezza’s father, Rino, and seeing how ecstatic he is that Spezza plays for the Leafs, and the magical regular seasons that Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner had. 

It made it even more heartbreaking when they lost in the playoffs. The team rallied to go up 3–1 against Montreal after John Tavares suffered one of the worst injuries I have ever seen. They had Montreal in a choke hold until two giveaways in overtime, and then a dud of a game seven whipped away what had been a magical season. 

It broke my heart to see Campbell crying while being consoled by Spezza in the dressing room and Matthews and Marner, heads buried in an empty dressing room. Overall, All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs reminded me of why I loved the 2021 Leafs, and it broke my heart to relive the playoffs. If you are a Leafs fan, it is definitely a must-watch.