Spring has finally hit Canada, which can mean only one thing: another Canadian franchise is making a push to win coveted Lord Stanley. During five of the past six seasons, all Canadian clubs except the hilariously hapless Leafs have appeared in at least the conference finals. It's not surprising that with each new playoff push the same debate arises across the country: should patriotism and a collective love of hockey trump local rivalry?
This year, the answer has been unfailingly no. Those who jump on the national bandwagon like to throw around terms and phrases like "Canada's Team!" and "We have to bring Stanley home." There are a few problems with these superfluous talking points, especially when it comes to the locally hated Vancouver Canucks. First of all, Canada already has a team-- funnily enough they're called Team Canada.
Bringing Stanley home doesn't make much sense either. The Canucks have fewer Canadian players than any other team in contention-- the cup would spend most of its summer bumming around Europe. Sure, Vancouver would get their parade, but this isn't beneficial to Calgarians in the slightest. Although it has been a long time since the Cup has been won by a Canadian team, the NHL is a national competition as much as it is an international one. Hockey fans across the country want the cup for their team in their city.
Yes, the playoff runs for Calgary in '04, Edmonton in '06 and Ottawa in '07 inspired support across the country, but this got increasingly lower as the years wore on. The fact is the circumstances surrounding these teams were all incredibly different. The 2004 Flames were a ragtag group-- they defied all the odds and, through sheer determination and grit, became the first Canadian club in 11 years to make the finals. Everybody loves an underdog story, but Vancouver is a very different team that is making a strong push under very different circumstances. This is not an underdog team that outworks their opponents-- they are a favourite that have taken diving and whining to a new level, something all too common among many teams these playoffs. They lucked out the first two rounds playing one-dimensional teams, adversity sprung only in the face of crazed fans and macho attitudes. Vancouver is a team that lacks character and does little to inspire. They are a team furthest away from embodying any sort of 'Canadian-ness' and are still a long road away from engraving their names on the silver cup.
In the end, Canucklehead fans don't really care. They don't care what the rest of Canada thinks of them and they don't care if we're supporting them or not, as is the way it should be. I'm sure many Flames fans will join me happily cheering on the Sharks. At least Heatley would bring the Cup back to Calgary.