As the final month of the NHL regular season winds down and the Stanley Cup Playoffs emerge on the horizon, it's a good time to be a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. With 46 points through 38 games, the Maple Leafs are in great position to make it there for the first time since 2004.
Actor and lifelong Maple Leafs fan Will Arnett likes what he sees.
Arnett is perhaps best-known for playing quirky Gob Bluth on "Arrested Development," the short-lived cult comedy that returns with new episodes next month. But with the Maple Leafs having success, and the fact they will be playing in next year's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Arnett is all about the blue and white right now.
"Let me just say it feels pretty good being the No. 5 seed in the East currently. I feel really optimistic for the first time in nine years that the Leafs are maybe going to the postseason," Arnett told NHL.com. "They've proven to be resilient in the face of injuries. It shows that they're a great team. That they're buying into what Randy Carlyle is selling. You see it. They're playing like a team."
Growing up in Toronto, Arnett quickly became a proud member of Leafs Nation. He still refuses to miss a game in spite of his busy schedule, and is happy to share his countless memories of Maple Leaf Gardens. It's just part of a passion developed from a lifetime spent kneeling at the altar of Wendel Clark, whom Arnett considers "the ultimate Leaf."
"I don't have any non-Leafs memories growing up in Toronto. I remember my first hockey game at Maple Leaf Gardens at [age] 4. The first time hearing the roar of the fans cheering and being so freaked out. I had never heard anything like it," said Arnett, who plans on being among the 100,000-plus fans attending the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. "Leafs in the Winter Classic is the way it should be. The Leafs deserve to be there, and so do the Red Wings. It's a classic Norris Division matchup. I really feel like that rivalry is going to get renewed and as heated as it used to be."
With recent NHL realignment, the Maple Leafs and Red Wings are expected to share a division next season. But Arnett didn't want to lob too many verbal jabs at Red Wings fans -- and he made sure to stay on Mr. Hockey's good side.
"You know what is a bummer about Gordie Howe? Knowing that an 85-year-old man can still kick my [rear]," said Arnett, 42. "That's a bummer. I'm going to have a lot of soul-searching about that."
Like any proud Maple Leafs fan, Arnett is looking to pass along his passion to his two sons. At the moment, they are too young to appreciate the merits of legendary players Mats Sundin, Lanny McDonald and Clark. But it's only a matter of time before Arnett hands down his fandom to the next generation.
"As a gift to me from heaven, my son [Archie] has the same birthday as Wendel Clark (Oct. 25)," Arnett said. "If my son can be half the player that Lanny McDonald is, fantastic. If my son can grow half the moustache Lanny McDonald can, also fantastic."
Author: Tal Pinchevsky | NHL.com Staff Writer