So the Stanley Cup playoffs are underway. Growing up in the original six era I bled blue and white. That’s right, a Toronto Maple Leaf fan. However, unlike most Leaf fans I know, I am old enough to remember seeing them win four Stanley Cups. In 1967 I was 16-year-old. After the Leafs’ cup win that year, I recall taking my dog for a walk around the block basting in the afterglow of another Stanley Cup victory – truly one of the happiest nights of my life – little did I know that 50 years later I would still be waiting for another win. Even worse, for eternity it seemed, the Leafs weren’t even in the playoffs. They are for the moment, so I’d better get this article written quickly.
The quandary I’ve had for most of my life is, who do I cheer for when my team either didn’t make the playoffs – and that has happened a lot being a Leaf fan – or after my team is knocked out?
I love hockey. I have no problems watching a game or a series if my team is not playing. It is the greatest game in the world and to watch the best players in the world make all these incredible plays is always a pleasure. To be emotionally attached to a series, it is a lot more fun – and painful – to cheer for a particular team. But once again, who do you cheer for?
I had begun the practice a number of years ago to go on NHL.com and look at the team’s rosters. Who ever had the most Canadians would have my support. What a simple solution. I would cheer for the team that would bring the Cup home during the summer to the most Canadian towns. Living in Strathroy, Ontario we have had Stanley Cup celebrations with Andy McDonald (Anaheim) and Brian Campbell (Chicago). Heck, we even had the Memorial Cup here for a party thanks to Nathan Beaulieu, now a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
It just so happens that this year that the top 3 teams with Canadian content are all teams based in Canada – Ottawa (19), Calgary (18) and Edmonton (17). St. Louis (15), Anaheim (14) and San Jose (13) are pretty well stacked with Canadians too.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Washington (8) and Chicago (8) have the fewest. Minnesota (9) and the New York Rangers (9) aren’t that far behind.
In the middle of the pack are Nashville (12), Montreal (12) and Pittsburgh (12).
Sadly my Leafs only have 11. How do they expect to win anything with just one Canadian on defense (Morgan Reilly)? They need to beef up that blueline with some hard-nosed Canadian boys.
So let’s have a look at those pairings. In the Western Conference we find: Nashville (12) vs Chicago (8), St. Louis (15) vs Minnesota (9), Calgary (18) vs Anaheim (14) and Edmonton (17) vs San Jose (13).
In the East we see: Montreal (12) vs New York Rangers (9), Ottawa (19) vs Boston (10), Toronto (11) vs Washington (8) and Pittsburgh (12) vs Columbus (10).
Hopefully it is a good sign for the five Canadian-based teams that qualified for the playoffs this year, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. They all have more Canadians on their roster than their opponents. They will need a little luck too as all the Canadian teams lost their first game of the post season.
So now when all else fails, you know which “Canadian” team to cheer for.