Canadians love hockey. I don’t think that statement needs to come with any sort of proof or statistics attached to it. It’s a well known fact. Hockey to Canadians is like soccer (football) to the world outside of North America. It’s a religion. It’s a way of life. Canadian children learn how to skate before they can properly walk. And nothing upsets a Canadian more than the domination of American-based teams in the Stanley Cup finals.
Sure, they can say “Well, most of the players are Canadian,” but when the Detroit Red Wings won the Cup in 2008 they did so with Niklas Lidstrom, a Swedish-born player, as their captain. Yes, Canadian teams have reached the finals, but a Canadian-based team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993. It killed Canadians to watch Calgary lose to Tampa Bay, to watch Edmonton be beaten by Carolina, and to have Anaheim victorious over Ottawa.
Canadians desperately want a Canadian-based team to win the Stanley Cup.
However, that team cannot be the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If there is one thing that unites Canadians across the country, it’s a dislike for Toronto. If the Toronto Maple Leafs were the team that broke Canada’s Stanley Cup drought, it would be a sad day across Canada. Canadians would rather have a Nashville/Florida final than have the Leafs win hockey’s ultimate prize.
That’s because, outside of the hatred for Toronto, the Leafs are not seen as a true Canadian club. They don’t succeed based on hard work and dedication. They play steps away from the country’s financial district. They’re owned by a conglomerate of owners that includes the Ontario Teachers’ pension plan, CTV and TD Bank Financial Group. They’re the highest-valued team in the NHL. They run their own specialty cable network. They’re building a condominium and hotel complex. All of this may mean good business, but it doesn’t exactly mean “old time Canadian hockey.”
A true Canadian hates the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fans in and around Toronto may support the team, but the rest of the country does not. A good way to spot a Canadian is to ask them about hockey. He or she will eventually mention how it’s a shame that a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup in a while. Hockey is “Canada’s game” and the Cup “belongs here.” To test if that person is really a Canadian mention that it would be great if the Leafs won the Cup. Then you’ll hear a rant that will send you running back to your igloo in a search for a warm glass of comforting maple syrup. Then you’ll know that you’ve found a Canadian.