Skip to content

COLUMN: Canada's Stanley Cup drought easily explained

Canadian-based teams haven’t won Lord Stanley's silverware since 1993 because they just haven’t been good enough, writes reporter Bob Bruton
Stock image

No, I’m not happy there are no Canadian-based hockey teams left vying for the Stanley Cup.

It’s going to be Florida Panthers against the Vegas Golden Knights instead.

Warm-weather teams, as we say here in the Great White North.

Most Canadian hockey fans know the Cup hasn’t stayed on this side of the 49th parallel since 1993, when goalie Patrick Roy led the Montreal Canadiens to victory in a series against the Los Angeles Kings and some guy named Gretzky.

Even the Wayner couldn’t singlehandedly beat the Habs that spring, although he did try.

Canadian NHL teams really didn’t fare very well during this season’s playoff run.

To begin with, the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and the formerly fabled Canadiens didn’t even make the playoffs.

Not going to win the Cup on the golf course, no matter how good your short game is.

The Winnipeg Jets lost to Vegas in the first round, and didn’t put up much of a fight.

Edmonton’s Oilers beat the Kings, then lost to Vegas — despite having Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, arguably the two best hockey players in the world.

But it's just more evidence that the goaltender is the most important position in hockey, and that neither McDavid nor Draisaitl are goalies.

And now we come to that soap opera of a hockey team: Toronto’s Maple Leafs.

At long last, the Leafs won a playoff round, ousting the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

Finally, the Leafs had won something.

But it didn’t last, of course.

The Leafs used all that momentum from beating the Bolts and promptly lost in the next round to the Panthers in five games.

The sad thing is that while the Leafs were generally outplayed by Tampa Bay but found a way to win, they pretty much outplayed the Panthers and lost anyway.

Case in point, Toronto fired about 50 shots on goal in the fifth and deciding game against Florida, scoring only twice and losing in overtime.

Goaltending again.

Of course, the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes were also mauled by the Panthers, who just snuck into the playoffs in the last week of the regular season before ruining things for the Bruins and Hurricanes.

So it’s another all-American final for Lord Stanley’s silverware.

There are, of course, plenty of Canadian players on each of the last two teams standing. We don’t have Don Cherry around anymore to count them up for us, but you can take my word on that.

Which means this summer, long after the Cup has been awarded, it will be showing up in Canadian towns and cities with local NHL players who get their day with the silverware.

Why hasn’t a Canadian team been able to win the Cup since 1993?

I don’t want to hear the arguments about not being able to attract the best players because of high taxes in Canada, too much media scrutiny here, too much pressure from local fans to win, or that Canadian players would rather ply their trade in warmer climes.

Last time I checked, Edmonton was in Canada, where McDavid made the most money, dealt just fine with pressure from the fans and media, and got along fine wearing a coat and boots in wintertime.

Canadian teams haven’t won the Cup because they haven’t been good enough. They got beat on the ice, which is where the games are played.

The Leafs, for example, have Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, Morgan Rielly, and William Nylander — all big-ticket, big-salary stars.

But not good enough collectively to win the Cup.

Let’s remember, the not-good-enough club is a large one.

There are 32 NHL teams and they all lose out on the Cup except for one, each and every playoffs.

Last year, the Colorado Avalanche won the Cup, but didn’t even make it out of the first round this time.

So am I happy the Canadian teams are all golfing now instead of playing for the Stanley Cup?

No, I am not.

But I no longer lose sleep about it.

Bob Bruton covers city hall for BarrieToday. If he wants to lose sleep about something, he could lose it over what happens in the Council Chambers. But he does not.