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Canada’s Playoff Teams

from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,

So we get two teams in the National Hockey League playoffs. Not five, like last year. But hey — it’s better than the zero that qualified in 2016.

So, with (hopefully) a few rounds of Canadian content on tap beginning in a few weeks, let’s take a look at what we have. It’s an interesting dichotomy: Canada’s marquee club, Toronto, a Hockey Night in Canada staple; and the team whose time zone doesn’t work for anyone, arguably the least sexy market in the NHL in Winnipeg.

A Canadian hockey fan can’t avoid the Maple Leafs even if they tried — but why would you? Toronto is perhaps the most entertaining team we have this season, with a budding superstar in Auston Mathews, enough offence to keep the lamp lit, and just loose enough defensively that Frederik Andersen (when healthy) is one of the three stars whenever Toronto wins.

And the Jets, that club you’ve been hearing about all winter and have no doubt been meaning to watch, with a sniper in Patrik Laine who is on his way to becoming a generational goal scorer. Now that your club is toast — we’re talking to you Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal — do yourself a favour and see what a proper, slow and successful build is supposed to look like.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Red Winger's avatar

I just don’t get why some (certainly not all) Canadians need to view the NHL playoffs in an “us v them’ light. That’s what the Olympics, World Championship, and WJC are for. Isn’t that enough? Does everything need to be viewed in such a parochial light?

If the Leafs win the Cup this year they will do it with a roster that is made up of 13 Canadians and 11 non-Canadians. And arguably their two best players come playoff time are American (Mathews and JVR), while relying on a Danish goaltender.

Enough already.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 03/21/18 at 09:37 AM ET


It’s Canadian media only.


I don’t know any Canadian fan of a Canadian team that roots for another team just because they’re based on Canada.

I guess maybe there are the very casual hockey fan who only tunes in for the playoffs, they might pick a team because they’re based on Canada, but other than that every fan of a Canadian team that I know hates every single other Canadian team and would sooner give up watching hockey than rooting for another Canadian team.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 03/21/18 at 09:51 AM ET

HaHasek's avatar

“but why would you?”

Posted by HaHasek on 03/21/18 at 10:29 AM ET


It’s the Don Cherry effect. Miserable xenophobe.

BTW, I find Winnipeg just as entertaining, if not more entertaining to watch than Toronto. While I expect both Matthews and Laine to have great careers, it is not a given that Matthews will be the better player, long-term.

Posted by evileye on 03/21/18 at 11:39 AM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

From everything I’ve read, most Canadians will actively root against another Canadian team if their team is not in the hunt. They’d rather ANY American team win rather than it not being their guys breaking the Canadian Cup drought. That may be a little different with Winnipeg, since the big market fans seem to think of the Jets as a little brother, and may root for them as far as, like, the conf final. But my guess is that they’d turn on them if they got any closer than that.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 03/21/18 at 01:36 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

From everything I’ve read, most Canadians will actively root against another Canadian team if their team is not in the hunt.


.Actually I have been a Red Wing Fan since the Original Six. I might cheer (sort of) Tampa (Stevie Y) and or the Jets (Laine is amazing to watch).  I will never cheer for The Leafs ,Never Ever!!!!

Next year who knows but I am pretty sure the Wings won’t make the cut.

I am a Canadian and I probably picked Detroit after seeing Gordie Howe a few times (in Saskatoon)

I will only cheer based on Nationality at Olympics, etc.  Hopefully no Leaf players, Barf!

I hate SportsNet also, LOL

I will cheer more when Holland and Blashill get fired!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 03/21/18 at 03:35 PM ET


To me, it’s hard not to cheer for Winnipeg, wherever you live.

Now that is a city that helps represent the Canadian hockey tradition
beyond what Gretzky and others accomplished with the Oilers, and
the more glamorous big cities, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.

The Thrashers were a mess and the common thought was few players
would want to sign with Winnipeg, or agree to be traded there.
They have been patient and steady and it’s finally paying off.

As an American, Winnipeg is exactly the kind of place that should have an
NHL team - all of the league’s money-centric focus on big population centers
in the sunbelt aside. Of course ratings and sponsorships and a huge base of
free-spending fans helps drive the league’s visibility and profits. But the simply
has less soul and authenticity without cities where hockey is a way of life.

Since Toronto, on the other hand, starting returning to legitimacy TSN
has been absolutely obnoxious in its wall to wall hyping of the Leafs.
Column after column about practically what Auston Mathews ate for breakfast
or the next time he’s planning to brush his teeth. The effect on me as a fan is:
Anyone but the Leafs!

Posted by Lefty30 on 03/21/18 at 04:31 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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