He’s a fan

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Ross McKeon
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Count comedian Mike Myers among those very concerned with the trials and travails of the Toronto Maple Leafs. An Emmy Award-winning actor, screenwriter and producer, Myers has even chosen his favorite team to provide the backdrop for his soon to be released movie, "The Love Guru." And he doesn't hide the fact he is enamored with the sport.

"My whole life is a thinly-veiled attempt to hang out with my favorite sport and hockey players," Myers said matter-of-factly on Monday.

It seems only fitting one of the world's funniest men is so emotionally attached to one of Canada's longest running comedies – the Maple Leafs. Myers was three weeks shy of his fourth birthday when Toronto last won the Stanley Cup in 1967. The second son of parents who emigrated from Liverpool, England, to Scarborough, Ontario, Myers was raised a mere slap shot from Toronto, the self-proclaimed center of the hockey universe.

It's only natural, regardless of celebrity status, that Myers lives and dies with the fortunes of the Original Six franchise like everyone else in the region.

"I would love to win a Stanley Cup, it's that simple," Myers said. "It's so ingrained in me. We just want our Cup, now."

Oh, if it was only that simple.

When asked his opinion of the Leafs' latest decision – the hiring of Ron Wilson as the franchise's 27th head coach, but the first who is an American – Myers politely sidestepped any direct reference to the new bench boss, although maybe he was just trying to mind his Ps and Qs. On the other hand, Wilson certainly has an opinion of Myers – being a movie buff and all. But Wilson's preference is usually more along the lines of war stories and thrillers as opposed to Austin Powers or Wayne and Garth.

Instead, Myers painted a more generic picture of Toronto's situation.

"We need two good centers, we need somebody who can captain the power play at the point, and we need two goalies that peak at the same time," Myers said. "That much I do know.

"We need to instill in the team a one-for-all and all-for-one, 16-W (playoff wins) mentality," he added. "When that happens, I will be very happy."

While you might think having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame would bring a Myers a little gratification, it pales in comparison to when the Leafs almost reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1993, a season Myers recalls with great fondness despite its heartbreaking end.

The Leafs won consecutive seven-game series’ against Detroit and St. Louis, respectively, to reach the Western Conference finals, and they had a 3-2 lead in games against upstart Los Angeles. The Kings won Game 6 in overtime, and skated into Maple Leaf Gardens to take Game 7 in regulation by the same 5-4 score as Wayne Gretzky collected a hat trick.

The Kings went on to face Montreal in a Stanley Cup final that would not only have been a rematch of the Leafs' triumph in '67, but also a highly-anticipated all-time Original Six classic. Instead, the Canadiens won what now stands as the last of their 24 Cups.

Myers not only doesn't hold anything against The Great One, he has the utmost admiration for Gretzky.

"Wayne Gretzky is not capable of breaking my heart," Myers said. "He's a great Canadian hero."

Myers, who besides playing street hockey and soccer as a youth didn't play on ice until after taking power skating lessons at age 30, already had his brush with Gretzky four years earlier, but it was on his stage rather than No. 99's arena. Myers was new on the set of Saturday Night Live, noticed that Gretzky was set to be an upcoming guest and the rest is history.

"I dove on a phone as if it were a grenade and called my friends and family back home," Myers admits.

Calling it one of the highlights of his life, Myers performed a Wayne's World skit on the show, and he said he still prominently displays a memento Gretzky presented him with afterward.

"He autographed a picture of himself – 'Dear Mike, Good luck with your career. Wayne, No. 99'," Myers said. "That's the Holy Grail right there."

The film star had two more pieces of advice for his favorite team, retain the services of captain Mats Sundin and forget about the past by putting a positive step toward the future.

"The contemplation of our own hockey navel is something we need here in Toronto," Myers said. "I think it's a miracle Mats Sundin, in that environment, has maintained such a high level of play."