22 years and (not) counting

When the Montreal Canadiens were bounced from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning this year, it ensured that one of the craziest streaks in sports will continue. This will make the 22nd straight year that the Stanley Cup winner will not come from Canada.

Twenty-two years. No Canadiens, no Maple Leafs, no Oilers, no Canucks, no Senators, no Jets, no Flames.

In that time, a team in North Carolina has won a Stanley Cup, a team in Texas has won, a team in Florida has won, two different California teams have won.

You would think that this might have created something of an inferiority complex in the Great White North, where hockey matters so much. But after talking to a bunch of fans on my last trip to Canada, I found what I probably should have already known. Nobody really cares.

Oh, sure, Montreal fans care about the Canadiens drought, Toronto fans care that the Maple Leafs are approaching the 50th anniversary of their last Stanley Cup win, Vancouver fans care about their Canucks losing Game 7 four years ago.

But they don’t care about each other’s pain. Canada, like America comes together for the Olympics but not for the Stanley Cup. In truth, once their teams lose many would prefer that no other Canada team wins — better for it to be some U.S. outpost.

This makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. It didn’t matter to Americans when Toronto won back-to-back World Series. And it doesn’t matter to Canada now. Whatever team wins the Stanley Cup, their best player will probably be from Canada anyway.

–Joe Posnanski

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