Thursday, March 17, 2016

Canadian Hockey Down the Swirly


I am writing this lament for Canadian Hockey mostly for foreign readers.  Canadians already know the sad tale all too well.

As a born and raised Canadian, I've been following hockey (what Europeans call "Ice Hockey") all my life. When I was growing up...Saturday night was "Hockey Night in Canada" on the CBC. We all gathered around and cheered for the NHL team closest to our region...in my case...the Toronto Maple Leafs...or as they later became known "Maple Laffs". The Maple Leafs won the championship "Stanley Cup" back in the 60's but it's been downhill ever since. Nobody knows why they can't battle their way out of the cellar every year...it's been decades since they even made the playoffs.

After moving to the West Coast in the 70's...I became a fan of the Vancouver Canucks. In the past four decades, the Canucks have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice...losing in the seventh and final game both times.  Alas, the Vancouver Canucks have never won the Stanley Cup.  This year has been the worst year that I have ever witnessed as a Canucks' fan. They were doing Okay till Christmas...then went into a steep decline and right into the swirly...where they slowly, and painfully circle now...till the merciful end of the season in 20 or so games.

But it's not just the Canucks that have hit the NHL wall this year. All five Canadian teams have. No Canadian teams will be in the playoffs for the game that is Canada's Passion and what we proudly call "our game".  Only American teams will vie for the cup...including some from improbably tropical cities like "Tampa Bay" Florida. All of which brings me to this RANT!

Why do they call it the NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE anyway? Shouldn't it be called the "International Hockey League"? That subliminal dismissal of Canada as an independent country has always bugged me. These playoffs, will at least be "National"...with only American Teams competing. Why have the Canadian teams sunk to the bottom?  One word:  Dollar.  The Canadian Dollar is currently at 77 Cents to the American Dollar. Although NHL hockey players get paid in American dollars...it still means that Canadian Teams generally struggle to maintain good players in such a lopsided market. Eventually, all the good players (like Wayne Gretzky) go to American teams. Don't press for details on this...I don't understand all the intricacies...I just know that most of the really good players play for American teams.  British Columbia has raised some fabulous hockey players in the past...but few of them ever played for the Vancouver Canucks.

So, what to do? I've been suggesting for years that Canada form its own "Canadian Hockey League" with all major Canadian cities and regions providing teams. Canadians love playing hockey against other Canadian teams anyway...witness the rivalry in the stands when the Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadians come to town. Imagine how much fun a playoff series would be with teams from Newfoundland, "Moose Jaw" Saskatchewan and the North (Yukon, North West Territories and Nunuvut) competing.  The "Excitement Cup" would be running over in Canada!  Let the Americans have the Stanley Cup...Canada will never win it again anyway. Canada has not won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadians won it in 1992. This is, however, the first year there will be no Canadian teams in the playoffs. Time for a change!

I have another idea....why don't all the Canadian NHL teams that are out of the playoffs this year compete for a "Canadian Cup"?  It would be a great opportunity to have a real "national" playoff for our unofficial national game [in fact, Lacrosse is Canada's official national sport].  The stands would be packed and the competition would be fierce. It would lift our national spirits....to the point where we wouldn't even care about who won the Stanley Cup down south.

But it will NEVER happen. Why not? Look at that little rat face in the photo at the top of this post. That's Gary Bettman. He runs the league from [N]ew York City. The subliminal goal of the "National" Hockey League has always been to deny Canadians the national (patriotic) energy that would arise from a truly Canadian League for our National Sport. We need to be kept down ("Divide and Conquer") in this iconic arena of nationalism....as a small portion of the greater project of "Manifest Destiny". Bettman has been tasked with the job of placating Canadian Hockey Fans in the interim...before we get suckered into the greater swirly...the big black vortex of the North American Union.

When that happens...the "National Hockey League" will finally be appropriately named.  But teams from the hinterland in the north will still never win the Stanley Cup.


Canadian Wayne Gretzky winning the Stanley Cup
 for the Canadian Edmonton Oilers...back in the 80's.
Gretzky was later traded to the Los Angeles Kings

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