It is official. The symbol of Canadian Hockey supremacy will for the 23rd year in a row, not be residing in Canada at the end of this hockey season.
It will visit, the Stanley Cup will, because some players born and developed in Canada will be on the roster of the winning team – and the NHL, realizing a Canadian team may never again actually earn the right to domicile the Cup in this country, has been allowing individual players a day or two to take it wherever they wish at season’s end.
It has been 46 years (since, for the second time in a decade, the Montreal Canadians went from winning the Cup to missing the playoffs on the goals-scored tiebreaker, both times to the Rangers, I believe) since no Canadian-based team has made the playoffs, and half that time since one actually qualified to take the trophy home for the summer.
There are pundits and powers-that-be that are already claiming this is an aberant situation, that rightaway next season, yesireebob, Canadian teams will be in the championship mix. After all, doesn’t Toronto have the AWESOMEST MANAGEMENT GROUP EVER? Doesn’t Edmonton have almost too many superstars, with another one on the way? Doesn’t Montreal have the greatest goaltender on the planet to backstop them (even though, as we saw just a couple of years ago, the league thinks it is okay just to take him out on purpose without consequence)?
The thing is, the people who run Canadian teams, for the most part, have access to a lot of money – they would just rather keep it and fumble around making minor changes to their franchise structure than, you know, actually do something other than pocket cash. Fans, too, play their part – in that they keep buying everything from pricey tickets to pricey garb to pricey parking to pricy food and beverages rather than demand with their bank accounts products worth the costs.
My best guess, given the circumstances, is that it will be a long, long time, maybe longer than that, before a Canadian team will seriously contend for the trophy created to honour the Canadian hockey champions.
Best, if you care at all about, “Canada’s Game,” to just get used to the situation as it stands.
The saving grace is that most Canadian areas have local teams with rosters full of players that are mostly not in it for the money – some areas still have senior hockey, even – upon which they can shower many fewer entertainment dollars and receive a much better return.
Season tickets for local junior teams, along with spots for volunteers and branded merchandise, are available right now, by the way.
• Nice that local kids are important pieces of an NCAA championship contender. Go Quinnipiac.