Been to Canada lately? Everything’s marked down. Five years ago, the loonie was at historic highs against the greenback. Lately the Canadian dollar will get you about 77 American pennies, a partial result of Canada having yoked its economy to crude oil, which in 2014 went off a frickin’ cliff. Every loonie that a Canadian hockey fan (or, colloquially, “any Canadian”) spends on jerseys or concessions or parking has been Monopoly money for the past two years.
Coincidence or not, the 2015-16 NHL season has been the worst season for Canadian teams since ... hell, it’s never been worse. None of Canada’s seven NHL teams are going to the Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s in a 30-team league that invites 16 teams to the dance every year, and they were all eliminated nearly two weeks before the end of the regular season. The only other time Canada was shut out was 1970, when the Maple Leafs and Canadiens both missed out on the eight-team playoff in a 12-team league. The Leafs were eliminated on the final day of the season there, just crummy luck. Having seven teams all finish in the bottom 14 in the league with games still on the calendar is an abomination for Canada’s national pastime, so long as we’re still counting hockey, rather than hoping your piss will literally freeze before it hits the snow outside a faux English pub, as such.
There’s not a whole lot more to say about this, because life is just too short to dwell on bad hockey. But I will point out that the Canadian Press story about the breakdown features two of the most hilariously Canadian rationalizations for this trend—and it damn sure is a trend, as no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since Montreal in ’93, a drought all of Canada likes to mourn. Here’s the first stab at optimism, from Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano:
“But there are still a lot of great players, a lot of great teams, a lot of great Canadian players on American teams, so I’m sure the fans will still enjoy it and it will be another great playoff.”
This sounds like malarkey, but it’s actually how Canadians think. Canada is the world’s largest small town, and it’s loyal to the locals—fans like Canadian teams, but barring that, they like teams that have Canadian stars or just a whole bunch of Canadians on the roster. (This American Life explored this theme a few years ago; Canadians have a chip in their heads that constantly downloads updates on the location of all other Canadians.) I suspect Canadian fans inadvertently keep their teams in a perpetual state of moderate suckitude partly because they shift allegiances so frictionlessly. So the Flames were garbage this year? Not a problem! There are like 16 Canadians on the Panthers’ roster, so now you’re a Florida fan.
Can you, American reader, imagine running such aw-shucks analysis on your favorite pro teams? No, you cannot. Because you know how to resent the success of others like a true patriot.
Here’s the second quote.
“I think it’s a fluke,” said Montreal defenceman Nathan Beaulieu. “Every team has Canadian players, so I don’t think it has anything to do with Canadian teams.”
Nathan Beaulieu, who now makes a million (actual) dollars a year playing professional hockey, was six months old the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup. As we say in not the north, bless his little heart.