Why A Canadian Team Will Not Win The Stanley Cup

I am an unrepentant Montreal Canadiens fan.

I have been since 1986, when I lay on my parents’ bed and watched Patrick Roy give the Calgary Flames fits. I actually began that Stanley Cup series as a Flames fan, not knowing any better and simply needing to pick a side to root for; besides, the flames had guys with improbable mustaches and a more interesting motif on their uniforms.

My grandfather was a Habs fan, and, by the end of that series and after watching the brilliant play of the team, I had to defer to his undeniable wisdom. That was the first Stanley Cup win in my career as a hockey fan, and I have had the pleasure of again seeing the Cup hoisted above the head of Patrick Roy in 1993.

That was also the last time that the cup was won by a Canadian team. Sure, the teams that have won the Cup since have been populated or lead by a nearly all-Canadian cast, but it really isn’t the same, is it? I mean, it’s OUR sport (well, really it was the Brits, but they’ve never taken much credit for anything but bad teeth and Monty Python.) Hockey is one of the few consolations that we seek refuge in throughout our ridiculously long winters. The sport’s greatest player is Canadian, as was the next one after that, and (I grudgingly admit) the current one. The greatest goaltender was Canadian, and the one who will likely don that mantle is Canadian as well.

We have defined a portion of our national identity by hockey.

We haven’t won hockey’s greatest prize in a decade and a half.

I don’t think Canada will see the Cup return home for some time, yet. The Maple Leafs are a financially successful parody of a professional hockey team. The Calgary Flames can’t finish. The Oilers are in flux. The Canucks are unbalanced. Ottawa is a one-trick pony.

Which leaves only my beloved Canadians, who are down 3 games to 1 after tonight’s loss to the Flyers.

They played hard. I don’t blame the team. The Flyer’s goaltender is simply better, and I’ve always maintained that the success of a team revolves around its goaltender. The Flyers themselves are thuggish assholes, bringing to mind once more the Leafs, who I’m sure are well past the rust that collected on their golf game throughout the regular season.

Montreal is losing this series not for lack of effort or talent, but simply because an already stacked deck has been toppled over them by poor officiating. The referees have stolen games from Montreal in this series and the one against Boston before it with non-calls, calls that shouldn’t have been, and purely inconsistent judgment. Tonight’s penalty on Steve Begin after the tying goal, which led to the Flyer’s winning tally, could only charitably be called questionable. But how different is that from the non-call on the two Boston players who were a foot and a half off side when the tying, momentum shifting goal was scored in that series?

The Cup won’t come back to Canada any time soon because that Napoleonic megalomania-cal circus midget Gary Bettman won’t let it. He so intent on making hockey a success in markets that haven’t seen frozen water in nature since the ice age that I wouldn’t put it beyond him to direct the officiating to ensure that the appropriate teams have better odds. That could sound like the biased ranting of a disgruntled misanthrope, and I will admit that I am biased. But I will also remind you that I am right, and, more often than not, those who disagree with me are wrong.

I say we stick Bettman in a hamster cage and bring sanity back to the league.

And if there was ever any doubt whether I am Canadian, I think the fact that hockey moved me enough to bring me back to blogging after a lengthy layoff is proof enough for the greatest skeptic.

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