Who should be Canada’s team in the 2019 NHL Playoffs?

We’re midway through the second round of the playoffs, and there are no Canadian teams still in contention for the Stanley Cup.

Officially, the Stanley Cup drought for Canadian teams is at 26 years, with no team hoisting the trophy since 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens beat the Los Angeles Kings. Now that the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, and Toronto Maple Leafs are all eliminated, which remaining team should be Canada’s team the rest of the way?

Colorado Avalanche

The Case For

  1. Nathan MacKinnon – the best player in the league still in the playoffs, and he hails from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
  2. Quebec Nordiques History – the Avalance are a relocated team originally from Quebec City that moved to Denver in 1995
  3. Avalanche – the word “avalanche” literally means a mass of ice and snow falling down a mountainside, an image sure to resonate with Canadians

The Case Against

  1. Players – outside of MacKinnon, most of the Avalanche’s top players are not from Canada: Gabriel Landeskog (Sweden), Mikko Rantanen (Finland), Erik Johnson (USA), Philipp Grubauer (Germany)
  2. Flames – the Avalanche are solely responsible for eliminating Canada’s best team in round one, the Calgary Flames
  3. Betrayal – Cale Makar, who signed with the Avalanche midway through the first round, was born and raised in Calgary and played a big role in defeating the Flames in Round 1. Not cool, Cale, not cool.

San Jose Sharks

The Case For

  1. Joe Thornton – one of the most accomplished players in history, Thornton is from St. Thomas, Ontario, and according to reports witnessed Confederation with his own eyes
  2. Canadian players – one of the better groups of the remaining teams: Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Evander Kane, and Brent Burns
  3. Drought – the Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup, and a good first-time story is always fun to cheer for

The Case Against

  1. Annoyance – the Sharks have been the bane of many Canadian teams over the last few years, unsurprising considering they play in a division with three of the seven Canadian teams
  2. Non-Canadian complements: for every good Canadian player, the Sharks have an even better non-Canadian player: Tomas Hertl (Czech Republic), Timo Meier (Switzerland), and Erik Karlsson (Sweden)
  3. Cap – the captain of the Sharks, Joe Pavelski, is literally Captain America

Dallas Stars

The Case For

  1. Benn/Seguin – the dynamic due of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin is one of the most lethal and entertaining in the NHL, and both players are Canadians
  2. Cowboy culture – in much of the prairies of Canada, the cowboy/western culture is part of the fabric and history of the region, nicely aligning with much of Texas culture
  3. Management – the owner, general manager, and coach of the Stars are all Canadian

The Case Against

  1. Distance – Dallas is the furthest team from the Canadian border still remaining in the playoffs; it’s much closer to Mexico than to Canada
  2. Bishop – arguably the most important player for the Stars, Ben Bishop, was born in Denver, Colorado
  3. Barn – the Stars play out of an arena named after one of the most American companies on the planet: American Airlines

St. Louis Blues

The Case For

  1. Canadian representation – out of all teams in the NHL, the Blues have the most Canadians on their roster
  2. Ryan O’Reilly – how much more Canadian does it get than having one of your players be so excited to get a double-double that he drives his car into a Tim’s? Not his finest moment, but any team that has its biggest news story featuring a Tim Horton‘s gets major Canada points
  3. Louie – the Blues’ mascot is a polar bear named Louie, an animal beloved by Canadians coast to coast

The Case Against

  1. Superstars – the Blues’ number one superstar is Vladimir Tarasenko, born in Yaroslavl, Russia. He is also responsible for scoring the game tying goal against Canada in the 2011 WJC gold medal game, and then assisting on the game winner from Artemi Panarin
  2. Jets – the Blues eliminated the last Western Conference Canadian team standing, the Winnipeg Jets, in Round 1
  3. Steen – Alex Steen, who was born in Canada, imposter who chooses to represent Sweden in international play

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Case For

  1. Lightning – the Blue Jackets get a considerable boost for eliminating the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one, mostly from Flames fans who are sure to appreciate the Lightning bowing out after stealing the Cup in 2004
  2. Underdogs – the Blue Jackets were definitely the biggest underdogs entering the first round, and nobody likes a good underdog story like Canada. They made history by winning their first ever playoff series against the best NHL team in 20 years
  3. Distance – Columbus is geographically the closest city to the Canadian border

The Case Against

  1. Players – Columbus is powered by a talented group of players from Canada’s biggest hockey rivals: Americans Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, Seth Jones, and Zach Werenski; and Russians Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin
  2. Christopher – Columbus, Ohio is named after the “founder” of the USA, Christopher Columbus. The team’s name is derived from the uniform worn by Union fighters in the American Civil War. The Blue Jackets could be the most American team in the NHL, including the Washington CAPITALS.
  3. Cannon – most hockey fans would be completely fine with never hearing that cannon go off ever again

Boston Bruins

The Case For

  1. Superstars – leading the Bruins’ offense are two Canadian superstars in Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, both of whom were on Canada’s Olympic gold medal winning teams in 2014 and 2010
  2. TD Garden – the Bruins play out of the TD Garden, named for their sponsor company TD Bank, a subsidiary of the Canadian bank, Toronto Dominion Bank
  3. Management – the Bruins’ coach and General Manager are both Canadian

The Case Against

  1. Canadians – the Bruins have the fewest number of Canadian players out of any team in the NHL
  2. History – the Bruins are known to be the main rivals of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and have gone to extreme lengths to eliminate the Leafs in back-to-back first rounds (yes, we’re talking about you, Jake DeBrusk)
  3. More History – the Bruins have been primary rivals to both original six Canadian teams, the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, and haven’t been particularly kind to them either. Throw in their greasy Cup win against the Canucks in 2010 and the Bruins are a hard sell for Canadians to get behind

Carolina Hurricanes

The Case For

  1. Jerks – the Hurricanes drew the ire of longtime media personality Don Cheery, who called them “a bunch of jerks” on international television. That’s awesome
  2. Players – the Hurricanes have 13 Canadians on their roster, including Jordan Staal, Dougie Hamilton, and Micheal Ferland
  3. Mr. Game Seven – Justin Williams, the captain of the ‘Canes, is arguably the most clutch player of all time; tough not to cheer for a guy like that

The Case Against

  1. 2006 – the Hurricanes beat the Oilers in 2006 in the Stanley Cup Final, extinguishing one of the most recent bids for a Canadian team to win the Cup
  2. Players – they do have plenty of Canadians on their roster, but their most important players are all non-Canadian: Sebastian Aho (Finland), Teuvo Teravainen (Finland), Nino Niederreiter (Switzerland), Justin Faulk (USA), Jaccob Slavin (USA), and Andrei Svechnikov (Russia)
  3. Distance – out of all Eastern Conference teams, Raleigh is the furthest from Canada; like the Stars, it’s closer to Mexico than Canada

New York Islanders

The Case For

  1. Tavares – they lost John Tavares last offseason and still finished higher than his new team in the regular season, and advanced to the second round
  2. Lehner – the Robin Lehner story is one of the most inspirational stories you can find in the NHL; how can you not want to cheer for a guy like that?
  3. Players – the Isles have 15 Canadians on their roster, namely Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier, and Ryan Pulock. Barzal is an up and coming superstar, and Eberle has slayed his playoff demons and was the standout forward for the Isles in Round 1

The Case Against

  1. Tavares – outside of Toronto, hockey fans feel bad for the Islanders for losing Tavares. However, Leafs fans are still clamouring over how Tavares was treated in his first game against his old club, and that’s a big population who won’t want to get behind the Isles
  2. Oilers – because of a storied trade history with Peter Chiarelli during his time as GM of the Edmonton Oilers, the Islanders feature several players who were, or could have been Oilers property: Barzal, Eberle, and Beauvillier. Another big fanbase likely unwilling to support the Isles
  3. Arena – the Islanders are now playing out of Barclay’s Arena, which is probably the worst arena in the NHL to watch a game; it’s tough to cheer for a team you can barely see on the ice

Conclusion

All in all, it looks like the Blues are the best candidates to be Canada’s team. The Blues have just a handful of non-Canadian roster players, they’ve never won a Stanley Cup, and their biggest scandal involves a Tim Horton’s. Tough to beat that.

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