En Memoria: Mark Arcobello Leaves for Europe


Mark Arcobello: an ode to a (brief) Toronto Maple Leafs legend. 

When Mark Arcobello came to Toronto on a one year, $1 million deal, I had high hopes for the tiny centre. 

Now, alas, he’s gone – overseas to Switzerland, where he’ll play out the next two seasons with SC Bern. It’s unlikely that the Leafs, who had him for just one short year, will get to see the Connecticut native pull on their sweater ever again. 

Who was Mark Arcobello?

A native of Milford, Connecticut, Mark Arcobello was everything his teams ever asked of him. He lacked the height and low center of gravity it takes to hack it in the NHL, but drove possession well enough and helped capitalize on opportunities during his team’s hardest hours. It seemed that the more dire his team’s situation, the bigger he pulled through – he was the ultimate underdog, so to speak. 

He was fighting a losing battle from day one, though. 

After putting up nearly a point per game with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, Arcobello got his first NHL call-up with the Edmonton Oilers in the middle of the 2012-13 season. 

His first game, played against the Dallas Stars, the Oilers deployed their 5 foot 8 prospect on the top line with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Yes, that actually happened. 

It went about as well as it could have. 

For the next few years, Arcobello would continue to play for the Oilers, but ultimately got moved midway through the 2014-15 season for the bigger (and more veteran) Derek Roy. 

That’s when things got interesting. 

Within the next month of the NHL season, Arcobello would bounce from the Oilers to the Nashville Predators via that trade, then to the Pittsburgh Penguins via waivers, then to the Arizona Coyotes via waivers again. He’d put up a career high 17 goals across the four clubs – not an easy feat, given that two of those clubs were absolute garbage pits on the ice – then would head to the Czech Republic to represent Team USA at the 2015 World Championships. He’d help Evgeni Malkin destroy the Oilers while facing his former club, score a goal against the San Jose Sharks on his first shift as a Coyote, and tally the game-winning goal against Team Russia at Worlds, then he’d fail to get qualified by Arizona and head to Toronto via free agency.

While with Toronto, Arcobello continued to fight a losing battle, playing in a defensive forward situation on the bottom line yet inexplicably serving as the point on one of the team’s two power play units as well. It became quickly apparent that playing your 5-foot-nothing winger on the point against actual NHL talent isn’t ideal, and Arcobello would get waived again, clearing and spending the majority of his year with the AHL’s Marlies. 

What are the Leafs losing? Dashboard 1

In all actuality, they’re losing nothing more on the ice than a valuable tweener. Although Arcobello is a fairly proficient possession driver with the puck and a clutch goal scorer – known for finding the back of the net when all hope seemed to be lost for his abysmal teams – his game away from the puck was somewhat predictable, and he isn’t very big. He’s an excellent addition to an AHL roster and a reasonably effective depth forward at the NHL level, but the Leafs aren’t losing anything indispensable on the talent front. 

What they lose off the ice, of course, is a likable cult fan favorite with a hilarious name and some memorable moments throughout his NHL career – but I won’t go there. 

For those who forgot that Arcobello was ever a Leaf, shame on you. For those who remember him fondly, though, and are sad to see him go, just keep his two-goal game against the Vancouver Canucks close to your heart.