Canada’s Team?By Mark W. Law (May 27th, 2011)
Round 4 of the NHL playoffs start next week.
This is it, the final two teams left standing after the conference quarterfinals, semi-finals and finals, East vs. West for all the marbles. Or in the case of the NHL, Lord Stanley's Cup.
Since 1993 the Cup has headed south of the border. But this year Canada has a chance to reclaim THE Cup, with the Vancouver Canucks having already secured their place in the finals.
Now I am a Canucks fan, have been since Orland Kurtenbach first pulled the Rink and Stick with the white 'C' over his head and skated out onto the ice at the Coliseum. I am an unabashed Canucklehead, a fanatic who has lived through the dark days when the team was made up of cast-offs from the other franchises, the towel waving of Roger Neilsen, the heartbreak of 1994.
But more so I am a hockey fan.
I started this season hoping the Canucks would make it to the finals, knowing the odds were against them. In their absence I hoped it would be a Montreal Canadiens or Detroit Red Wings or Tampa Bay Lightning team in the finals, especially a Montreal Canadiens team. Why? Because these teams still represent the essence of elite hockey, the combination of speed, puck control, forechecking and backchecking that are at the core of the game. They are not oversized oafs who spend most of their time hooking, holding, slamming, fighting, poking, spearing or butt-ending. They are not the Broad Street Bullies or the Beantown Bruisers or even the San Jose Slam and Spears.
I put my Canucks in the same group with the Red Wings, Canadiens and Lightning. What other team has captured the individual scoring title two years in a row? by twin brothers no less! This year the Canucks lead or were in the top three in power play, penalty kill, goals for and against, and just about every other major category. This balanced game, built on speed and puck control with a bit of grit thrown in was the reason the Canucks finished with 117 points, won the President's Cup and are considered the favourites heading into next week's series.
For the first time in 40 years the Canucks look positioned to take the ultimate step in the NHL. And for the first time in 18 years Canada may reclaim OUR Cup.
So why is it that all I read about on the sports pages is how the Canucks can NEVER be considered Canada's Team? They have as many Canadians onboard as the Lightning (15) and they represent a Canadian city.
If it were the Flames, Oilers, Senators, Canadiens, and yes even the Leafs in the Finals you are damned right I would be rooting for them. Not as a bandwagoner but as a Canadian!
And after 18 years of waiting, watching Mr. Bettman put hockey where it never should have been, watching hockey games at weird times of the day because that is what an American network dictated, seen the perceived bias towards Canadian teams when we all know they are financially propping up the entire league I am ready, ready for that chance to see OUR Cup come HOME!
In my mind, as much as I love my Canucks, the fact that they are a Canadian team is much more important…