For a nation that has produced Olympic medal winning squads, and fosters a national passion for the game of ice hockey, they teams that play north of the border sure haven’t got the game quite figured out.
The Vancouver Canucks, of course, made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, but the Canadian team to win the Cup was in 1993, when the Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers, Flames and Senators have all lost to their American counterparts in the finals since that time.
The biggest problem, of course, is that not enough Canadian teams even make the playoffs. There are now 7 teams in Canada, and this season, only 2 of them, Vancouver and Ottawa, seemed slated for the postseason. Once again, a nation will be cheering for a disparate pairing of teams for national, rather than local pride.
Canadians are dreaming of the day when a pair of Canadian teams might meet in the playoffs. Since the Canadians won the Cup in 93, it has only happened 3 times. It happened once in 1994 when the Canucks topped the Maple Leafs to go to the finals and then twice ten years later when the Canucks squared off with Calgary and Toronto played Ottawa. Canadian fans might actually get a chance to root for their team, rather than a rival for the sake of national pride.
Sadly for Canadian fans, it likely won’t happen again this year, unless we have a Vancouver-Ottawa finals, which I will go on record as saying I don’t believe will happen. The other option is for Winnipeg to go on a tear and overtake Florida for the Southeast’s three seed, and hope Ottawa can move from 7th to 6th.
(Information and themes for this post drawn from Roy MacGreggor’s article here)