TORONTO — Jack Campbell was devastated. And he didn’t care if the entire world saw it, which it soon will.
The Toronto Maple Leafs goalie openly wept in an otherwise silent dressing room minutes after his team was eliminated in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup First Round by the Montreal Canadiens last season, and it is arguably the most telling and emotional scene from Amazon Prime Video’s original docuseries “All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs.”
The series will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the roller-coaster world of an NHL team throughout the 2020-21 season. Campbell said it successfully meets that objective, allowing the public to watch his tears flow with he and his teammates feeling they’d let the city down.
“I think people will appreciate the content because it’s authentic and our real emotions come out,” Campbell said. “Of course there is vulnerability in it. Everybody knows how last season ended. It’s never easy to deal with when you fall short of a goal. I think people will enjoy the show because there’s a lot of great stuff about it, the passion we all have for winning.”
The Canadian Amazon Original series, coproduced by NHL Original Productions, premieres Friday, with all five episodes available on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories. NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer, executive producer of the series, said viewers will get the type of inside access never seen before on this scale.
“There’s been similar projects leading up to things like Winter Classics, but never for a full season,” Mayer said. “The fact that it was in a COVID bubble and a 56-game season only adds to the intrigue.
“In the end we’re really proud of what we’ve put together. From our standpoint, I think this is really unique. Our plan is to show our fans a world they don’t normally get from just watching broadcasts. It exposes our players to the rest of our fanbase. And whether you’re a Leafs fan or not, it shows our players are likeable, they’re passionate, and they have personality.”
From Campbell’s tears, to Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe’s impassioned pleas for his players “to be great,” to forward Nick Foligno on all fours in excruciating pain in a corridor outside the visitors’ dressing room at Bell Centre in Montreal, the series delivers just that.
“For us, these types of shows make all the sense in the world to help promote our league and get us out there in a very different way,” Mayer said. “We would love to do more with Amazon, we’ve loved working with them, they could not have been better partners for us. And you know, we’re hoping that the future means another one of these shows, but we’re not there yet.”
Rob Worsoff, executive director and showrunner for Amazon, said the project was a special labor of love.
“It was absolutely incredible,” Worsoff said. “First and foremost, I’m a huge hockey fan. And so for me personally, I mean, it was the greatest thing in the world. It took me till 45 years old to make the NHL. It was very hard for me because professionally I had a job to do, but the kid in me was like, ‘Oh my god, incredible’.”
Limited to a crew of one cameraperson and one audio person because of COVID-19 restrictions, Worsoff said he gained new respect for hockey players and believes viewers will feel the same.
“People will see the grind these guys go through,” he said. “They basically have four days: practice days, travel days, game days and the odd off days. That’s it. That’s their world for months. Then add to it it’s in a COVID world. And you learn that there are constant demands on these guys.”
Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner said the series will highlight the passion for winning that goes beyond closed doors. It’s one reason Mayer said he welcomes similar projects in the future.
“It shows the sacrifices a lot of guys made to not be with their family and be dedicated to this team and sacrifice that time,” Marner said. “It’s going to show how much we care for each other outside of this rink.”