Let’s play a game. It’s called guess the year. Jurassic Park made us all gasp at the wonder’s of cinema technology in the theater. The X-Files premiered on TV. Michael Jordan retired for the first time. Lastly, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, marking the last time that the Great White North has hoisted the cup. Any guesses? Drumroll please…….
If you guessed 1993, you would be correct! I know what your first reaction is. Jurassic Park came out almost 20 years ago! Man I’m old. But for the purposes of this article, let’s focus on the last one. Yes, with the elimination of the Ottawa Senators last night, it has been nearly 20 years since Canada has had a Stanley Cup Champion. The country that made the sports popular, that has produced the likes of Gretzky and Lemieux, and a guy by the name of Sidney Crosby, has not won it’s own trophy in nearly two decades. Now I don’t want to be that guy who takes the easy route and bashes on the country that is our hat, but…….well here we go.
Now before I get into how ridiculous this is, I first must acknowledge the numbers game in the NHL. There are 30 teams, and of those, only 7 of them reside in Canada(Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, and Winnipeg). It should also be noted that Winnipeg just came back this year, as the Atlanta Thrashers moved back up north. However, the hard part for Canada is that many of these teams are division rivals. 6 of the 7 teams are in one of two division, with the Winnipeg Jets being the lone standout. To make matters worse for our neighbors, the Boston Bruins, who have the Senators, Canadiens, and Maple Leafs in their division, won the Stanley Cup last year, and dominated the division again this year. It could be a long road back to the cup for these teams.
Canada has had a few chances. The Vancouver Canucks have been the Great White North’s best shot. The Canucks lost to the Rangers in 7 in 1994, and also lost to the Bruins last year, also in 7. Outside of that, you can look at a block in the mid 2000’s as the worst part of the drought for Canadiens, and this is where it really starts to hurt.
The Calgary Flames lost in 2004 in 7 games in the Stanley Cup Finals. Now if you could think of one location in the USA that has no business owning a hockey team, what would it be? Maybe first to come to mine is Arizona, where the Coyotes are located, but sunny south Florida has to be up there as well. Well Calgary lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yup, the hockey lovers of Tampa Bay have seen a Stanley Cup, where as a 21 year old die hard Canadian has no recollection of when he was alive for his country’s last win.
The year after that, the NHL season was cancelled, but Canada would have two straight more opportunities to win. In 2006, the Edmonton Oilers were the perfect cinderella story. They were an 8 seed, but fought all the way to the finals, only to lose. And once again, in brutal fashion, it was in 7 games(man learn how to close out a game 7 Canada). Who did they lose to you ask? How does Raleigh, North Carolina sound for a hockey town? Yup, it was the Carolina Hurricanes who did them in.
Canada made a third straight Stanley Cup final, but the Ottawa Senators were no match for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, proving once again that Southern California is a better place for hockey then Canada. So there you have it: three locations that maybe see snow once every five years have learn how to master the ice. Come on Canada…you couldn’t even beat these guys?!
Ok I understand that tons of these teams were led by Canadian players, and that great hockey managers and coaches reside in all of these places, but how has Canada not won a cup in nearly 20 years? Is it some kind of curse? How else could the mighty Canucks, who won the Presidents trophy for the best regular season record, get dominated in the first round, going 0-3 at home to the Kings on their way to a 5 game beatdown, one year after making the finals.
Next year will be 20 years exactly. The Canucks appear to be the team most suited to break the curse. You also have Montreal, who has won 34 cups, the most of any other team. Could they catch fire, and take it all? It’s so hard to say. The Stanley Cup Playoffs come down to two things: matchups and goaltending. If you find the right matchups, and your goalie is hot, you have a great chance. Will Canada be able to master that by next year?
Probably not. But what do you think? How long will it be till Canada claims the cup again? Let us know in the comments!