This season could shape up to be the best chance in quite awhile for a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup. All six teams should make the playoffs and a couple have legitimate shots at raising the Cup.
Canada, it would appear, is prepared to compete in the new NHL, and possibly dominate. Five of the Canadian teams Calgary, Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal and Edmonton are solidly ensconced in the upper half of the league going into the 2005-06 season. A sixth, Toronto's Maple Leafs, could also be a playoff team, particularly if the risk-laden, off-season acquisitions of Eric Lindros and Jason Allison bear fruit.It's been eleven looong years since a club from Canada last won Stanley. That represents the longest drought suffered by the Great White North in NHL history going back to 1926 and 2005/06 very well could turn out to be the season the suffering ends.
The rise of the Canadian teams has been ongoing for some time, of course, spiritually ignited, some could argue, by the embarrassing effort to get the federal government to cough up cash to underwrite their losses. Once the feds got cold feet, the teams got down to fixing their own problems and, bolstered over time by a resurgent Canadian dollar, have done just that.
I got no problem with that.
Here's a look at and analysis of the six Canadian teams and their chances at winning the Cup.
And how are the Canadian fans reacting to the new season and it's possibilities? In a word they're ecstatic.
In Canada, the return of the big-league version of the national game, beginning with the end of the lockout in July, has been greeted with something approaching ecstasy. All of that talk about greedy players and myopic owners and a commissioner who didn't really understand the sport -- gone. All of those pledges to never, ever attend another NHL game, never watch one on television, never crack open a sports section if there was a hint of hockey on the cover -- forgotten. Many a pox was placed on both their houses, but now the game comes back in an atmosphere of universal love.Here's more on the ecstasy of the Canadian fans.
Let the games begin.