Do you love the Toronto Maple Leafs? Or do you love to hate them?
Either way, a new documentary premiering at the Whistler Film Festival (WFF) on Saturday night, Dec. 3 is likely to get you riled up.
Offside: The Harold Ballard Story is directed and narrated by North Vancouver-born Beverly Hills 90210 star and diehard hockey fan Jason Priestley. He'll be in attendance at Whistler's Rainbow Theatre for the film's world premier Saturday.
The 90-minute film is the first documentary to tell the story of the controversial Maple Leafs owner credited with running the NHL team—and the storied arena they played in, Maple Leaf Gardens— into the ground during his tenure, which ended with his death in 1990.
Ballard garnered a reputation as a curmudgeon known for prioritizing profit over product in the wake of the 1960s Maple Leaf dynasty that brought several Stanley Cups to Toronto; from installing smaller seats into Maple Leaf Gardens' stands to stonewalling star players looking for a raise. He also served time in prison for fraud, theft and tax evasion.
"As the poster for the film points out: Ballard didn’t invent greed. He perfected it," the Whistler Film Festival's description reads.
Priestley dove deep into the archives to find footage for the project, while enlisting sources like hockey greats, Leafs managers and broadcasters to share their stories about Ballard.
But more then highlighting his failures, the "this insightful and comprehensive documentary" reportedly paints a more thorough picture of a man who tended to keep his significant charitable activities hidden from the public, according to WFF organizers.
Priestley, "in digging up some of the family secrets behind the scenes," the description explains, "points out what an exciting and frustrating legacy of near-greatness Ballard and the Leafs have left in their wake."
Offside: The Harold Ballard Story's world premiere takes place at the Rainbow Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 3. at 8:30 p.m.
For more information or to purchase tickets, head to whistlerfilmfestival.com.