Toronto Maple Leafs: 5 Players Who Will Be Stars of HBO's '24/7'
As just about every Toronto Maple Leafs fan who hasn't been living under a rock knows by now, the Leafs were chosen to participate in the 2013 Winter Classic against their original-six rival Detroit Red Wings.
While some of the excitement surrounding the game itself may have taken a hit on Thursday, when Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom announced his retirement (via ESPN), the work that is put into hyping up the Winter Classic is still unparalleled in the hockey world.
HBO's fairly new series 24/7, which takes fans on a behind-the-scenes journey with their favorite clubs over four one-hour installments, is a major part of said hype.
This past year, the program delved into the lives of the Philadelphia Flyers and their division-rival New York Rangers, and it didn't disappoint—from animated coaches Peter Laviolette and John Tortorella to the crazy ramblings of the Flyers' quirky netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.
With Toronto set to take part in this year's spectacle, let's take a look at which Toronto Maple Leafs may provide some entertaining sound bites for fans.
Honorable Mention: The Fans
In addition to the teams themselves, HBO's 24/7 takes the opportunity to highlight the lives of some of each team's most faithful fans.
In the most recent installment, HBO introduced us to some of the more diehard fans you'll probably find anywhere on this continent.
This year, it's bound to do the same.
With arguably two of the three greatest fanbases in hockey's illustrious history (sorry, Rangers fans), the fans that HBO chooses to showcase will undoubtedly live and breathe Detroit and Toronto hockey.
Personally, seeing the dedication of some of these families was one of my favorite parts of the last 24/7, and I know it's only going to get better this season.
Let us begin with the obvious.
It seems as though the player that fits the "I love to party hard" bill on this Maple Leafs team is Joffrey Lupul.
He loves to tweet and interact with fans, has a great sense of humor and isn't afraid to speak his mind (see his comments at the All-Star fantasy draft).
I guarantee that Lupul is going to be must-see TV this winter.
I'm sure many of you are wondering, "Why on earth would this writer choose Carl Gunnarsson?"
Well, hear me out.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and pick Gunnarsson to be Toronto's version of Ilya Bryzgalov in this year's four-part series.
That's not to say that Gunnarsson is going to be borderline insane, but I think he's going to be Toronto's quiet, quirky guy.
We shall see.
Yes, you read that right.
As in current Canuck, Roberto Luongo.
Whether or not you agree that he should or will become a Leaf, I'm predicting that he will not only become a part of the 2012-2013 Maple Leafs squad, but that he will also be a star of HBO's 24/7.
It won't even be by choice.
See, Roberto has a history of making off-the-cuff remarks (remember last year's finals when he mocked Tim Thomas for letting in a goal he could have stopped?).
Watching him on 24/7 may be the most entertaining thing of all, because not only will he be making us laugh, but he'll have absolutely no clue that he's even being funny.
Now, on to a more serious note.
Phil Kessel is arguably the Leafs' most valuable player.
Though he is a relatively quiet guy, he has accomplished a lot in his young career and has been through some extremely hard times in his life as well.
Last year, 24/7 had the opportunity to film some players around the holiday season and showcase what some of those players are like in their hometowns and with their families.
Here's to hoping that Kessel is one of those players this year.
Yes, that's right, another prediction.
Nazem Kadri will be a full-time Maple Leaf next season.
Not only that, but he'll be one of the stars of HBO's hit series.
Even in the AHL, Kadri has morphed into the player that opposing fans love to hate. He's also another one of those guys who doesn't mask his emotions and will speak his mind.
Combined with the fact that he's one of the younger players who's bound to want to have a good time, you have the perfect recipe for hit television.