Friday, April 27, 2012

HOCKEY NIGHT NOT IN CANADA; GOLF SEASON COMES EARLY TO CANADIAN NHL FANS

Hello Canada, and welcome to Hockey Night Not in Canada.

It just is not going to be the same here in Canada without any Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Mind you, it wasn't the same to begin with with only two Canadian teams in the playoffs this year.

Vancouver Canucks shocked everyone with their swift elimination at the hands of LA; meanwhile the Ottawa Senators, proud winners of this year's trophy as Last Canadian Team Standing, threw the kitchen sink and other appliances at the New York Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist, but still lost in Game Seven by a count of 2-1.

The other five Canadian teams -- Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary all were sitting at home watching the playoffs to begin with. So that's it. All the Canadian teams are out, and Canadian fans officially have no further rooting interest in the Stanley Cup.

Not only does this extend Canada's Stanley Cup drought to a miserable 20 seasons (since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens last title), but this is one of the absolute worst Canadian showings in the Cup playoffs of all time. Our combined seven Canadian franchises won a grand total of four games.

It is certainly the earliest exit since 1996, when five Canadian teams that year were all eliminated in the opening round. Coincidentally, that was the last year Winnipeg was in the league before they moved to Phoenix. Now, in Winnipeg's first year back, it's happened again. What irony.

Not only are all the Canadian teams all out, but so are a lot of Canadian fan favorites such as Sidney Crosby, whose Pittsburgh Penguins were bounced in the opening round. In fact, good luck finding too many teams that Canadian fans are going to have much interest in in the next round. Not only are the last seven winning Stanley Cup franchises all out (defending champs Boston being one of them), so are five of the six Original Six teams (Rangers excluded).

Adding insult to injury for Canada, three of the remaining eight contenders are in the Sunbelt -- Los Angeles, Nashville and Phoenix. If there is one thing that drives Canadian hockey fans crazy, it's whenever a Sunbelt team wins a Stanley Cup. If Phoenix wins the Cup, believe me, Canadians will be beside themselves.

Topping it all off is the fact that for most Canadians their playoff pools are officially ruined because of all the crazy first-round upsets (President's Trophy winner bounced, defending Cup champs bounced, Pittsburgh bounced, Detroit gone, etc.).

What is the CBC going to do with Canada's official sport now? They are going to be stuck for the next several weeks broadcasting games from American rinks. Seriously, Canadians are not going to be tuning in. All the bars around here are going to be empty. But on a positive note, at least we won't be having any riots like last year. 

I suppose there still is some hockey to follow for the Canadian nationalists out there -- there's the junior hockey playoffs, not to mention the World Championships. But really, who cares about that. It's not the NHL.

This situation ought to free up time for Canadian sports fans to follow our three Major League Soccer teams (Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps), and of course the baseball Toronto Blue Jays. And look on the bright side, CFL fans --- football season is not that far away.

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