Colin Dambrauskas: Hockey; It’s Canada’s Game! …And Yet, Why Do Canadian Teams Suck?

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The NHL AllStar game is around the corner and most fans are beginning to, if they haven’t already, assess their respective team’s odds of making the 2015 NHL playoffs.

With that said, many Canadians are left in sorrow as their confidence in their team’s abilities to make and challenge come playoffs, isn’t exactly high. To make matters worse, there is arguably more hockey fans dispersed throughout Canada’s seven NHL teams than there are spread out among the 23 teams remaining in the United States. And I’d rather not to start an argument over this because it’s entirely aside from where I’d like to take this.

I digress.

Looking over the current position of Canadian teams vs American teams with respect to the upcoming playoffs, we continue to see similar results year after year; Canadian teams simply aren’t doing all that great and have a hard time getting into the playoffs!

At this moment in time we have four of seven Canadian teams sitting in a playoff spot. Of those four teams, I can only say with confidence that we should expect Montreal to remain in said position, while the remaining three are questionable.

And let’s face it, even if any team aside from Montreal were to make the post season this year, they certainly wouldn’t be going too deep – I think we can all agree on that. It’s a sad reality that once again, it would appear that only one Canadian team is offering strong enough hockey that playoff discussion has been earned.

Let’s crunch some numbers before we get any further.

The below numbers will break down the Canadian team’s playoff records since 2000 (I’ve removed Winnipeg as it only skews the data…sorry Jets fans!). Calgary Flames

Missed Playoffs totals: 8

Round 1 totals: 4

Round 2 totals: 0

Round 3 totals: 0

Finals: 1

Cups: 0 Edmonton Oilers

Missed Playoffs totals: 10

Round 1 totals: 2

Round 2 totals: 0

Round 3 totals: 0

Finals: 1

Cups: 0 Montreal Canadiens

Missed Playoffs totals: 4

Round 1 totals: 4

Round 2 totals: 3

Round 3 totals: 2

Finals: 0

Cups: 0 Ottawa Senators

Missed Playoffs totals: 3

Round 1 totals: 5

Round 2 totals: 3

Round 3 totals: 1

Finals: 1

Cups: 0 Toronto Maple Leafs

Missed Playoffs totals: 8

Round 1 totals: 2

Round 2 totals: 2

Round 3 totals: 1

Finals: 0

Cups: 0 Vancouver Canucks

Missed Playoffs totals: 3

Round 1 totals: 5

Round 2 totals: 4

Round 3 totals: 0

Finals: 1

Cups: 0

Of these six Canadian teams, the best finishes we have are visiting the finals three times with not one single cup, and a total of 36 playoff misses.

To put things in perspective, I will randomly choose six American teams (equal Eastern to Western groupings) to compare how they’ve done. Colorado Avalanche

Missed Playoffs totals: 5

Round 1 totals: 3

Round 2 totals: 3

Round 3 totals: 1

Finals: 1

Cups: 1 Dallas Stars

Missed Playoffs totals: 6

Round 1 totals: 4

Round 2 totals: 2

Round 3 totals: 1

Finals: 0

Cups: 0 Minnesota Wild

Missed Playoffs totals: 8

Round 1 totals: 3

Round 2 totals: 1

Round 3 totals: 1

Finals: 0

Cups: 0 New York Rangers

Missed Playoffs totals: 5

Round 1 totals: 3

Round 2 totals: 3

Round 3 totals: 1

Finals: 1

Cups: 0 San Jose Sharks

Missed Playoffs totals: 1

Round 1 totals: 5

Round 2 totals: 4

Round 3 totals: 3

Finals: 0

Cups: 0 Tampa Bay Lightning

Missed Playoffs totals: 7

Round 1 totals: 3

Round 2 totals: 1

Round 3 totals: 1

Finals: 1

Cups: 1

Ok I won’t even bother doing an actual break down/comparison between the two; it’s quite clear. The American teams chosen at random have done much better overall than their Canadian counterparts. Like I mean, there are two Stanley Cups in there and the overall appearances per round do not average out in Canada’s favour.

This begs the question; Why is it that Canadian NHL teams, with some of the strongest fan bases in any professional sport, cannot compete beyond the regular season?

Most fans maintain the pressure to play in a Canadian market is too great for some players and they would much rather go to sunny California, check in and out of the rink, and go about their merry lives. Well sure, that could be it for some players, but I call bull shit on this one.

There is the constant debate that players would much rather take and or keep their services within the States due to lowered taxes. Again, this is plausible, but I’m not convinced that any of said reasons are enough to hold Canadian teams and markets to a disadvantage.

I’m sure many of you are reading this and thinking – Well Colin, there are seven Canadian teams to 23 American teams, the odds are clearly in the favour of our friends to the South to make the playoffs…it’s simple math…

Ok, fine. This would be a clear and logical point, but where logic doesn’t work in this instance is due to the influences that a much greater support, bankroll and some would argue a determination to succeed, have toward the Canadian teams. Outside of perhaps the Ottawa Senators in recent years, most if not all Canadian teams have been given the green light to spend right to the cap and, have. There’s no debate that far more American teams are challenged with restrictive internal cap budgets due to the American interest for their teams.

Hockey has been coined as “Canada’s game” for years and it’s interesting that when you think of the NHL powerhouses over the last decade, I can’t say a single Canadian team comes to mind. So what (is) the issue? Why is it (outside of the sheer odds) that Canadian teams seem struggle to find consistency, reach the postseason and, for that matter, win Stanley Cups?

Why do our organizations suck so much?

Is it the notion that Canada places far too much pressure on their teams to “win now”? Could very well be, but you look at teams like the Edmonton Oilers who have patience for days, or you look to the Canucks who had some patience and some determination to succeed and yet have one of the longest cup droughts in the league. Don’t forget the Leafs who want to trade you every asset they can find to make a splash, or the Canadiens who do just a few things right but can’t seem to take it to the next level come playoffs.

So what is it, really? I’d like to hear your thoughts on this because I think a lot of the hockey world, myself included, are stumped!

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