It’s been 26 years since a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup. That streak will probably reach 27.
When the Winnipeg Jets were eliminated by the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, it left one lonely Canadian club on its own in the playoffs.
At least that team knows something about Cup droughts.
And so, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the country’s last hope to win the Stanley Cup this season.
Heading into the post-season, the Calgary Flames seemed to be Canada’s likeliest bet to end the drought, with a matchup against a Colorado Avalanche team 17 points below them in the standings.
After a Game 1 drubbing of the Avalanche, the Flames were rolling. Then they lost their next four straight. Whoops.
Meanwhile, the Jets limped into the playoffs after a mediocre second half. Last year’s conference finalists had seemingly run out of steam before taking games 3 and 4 to even their series with the Blues. But a third-period collapse in game 5 followed by a sketchy start in game 6 doomed them.
Canada hasn’t made the Cup final since 2011 when the Vancouver Canucks memorably lost to the Boston Bruins. Vancouver didn’t take that loss so well.
So now that the Leafs are one win away from ousting the Bruins — also a hated rival of Montreal — maybe Canadians will band together in support of a Toronto Cup run.
Probably not, though.
In reality, Canadians are likely to turn on the Leafs. For one, other fans want their own team to bring the Cup back north of the border. For another, Leafs fans’ insistence on calling their squad Canada’s team wouldn’t sit so well with Canada’s six other teams.
And it could very well be an American accepting the Cup from Gary Bettman if the Leafs manage the miracle, with Arizona’s Auston Matthews sitting as leading scorer on the captain-less team.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: we’ve all seen what happens when the Leafs take a lead against the Bruins.