Woe Canada: Jets hope to end nation’s Stanley Cup drought

Updated May 16, 2018 - 5:33 pm

Woe Canada.

It has been a quarter-century since hockey players from its home and native land have hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup, at least while wearing the sweater of a hockey team based in Canada.

It’s starting not to sit well with those munching on a jelly filled at Tim Hortons doughnuts.

In 1993, the Montreal Canadiens caught Marty McSorley (big brother Chris once coached the old Las Vegas Thunder) with an illegal stick, leading to a power play, a late tying goal and a pivotal overtime victory — the first of four straight wins over the L.A. Kings. Captain Guy Carbonneau was presented with the Cup, and Patrick Roy and other Canadiens skated it around the ice with it held high above their heads.

SHORT DESCRIPTION (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Business as usual at venerable Montreal Forum. Business as usual in the Great White North.

It was the Canadiens’ 24th Stanley Cup championship, and though nobody could have foreseen it — from 1984 to 1990, Canadian teams had copped the Cup seven straight seasons — that was the last time a Canadian club earned the right to sip an adult beverage from the big bowl on top.

The Winnipeg Jets, who have never been to a Western Conference Final before this season, are the only Canadian franchise still skating.

Somewhat embarrassing

“It is an issue in Canada, and people are somewhat embarrassed by it,” said Iain MacIntyre, a former longtime hockey writer and columnist for the Vancouver Sun who is covering the Jets for Sportsnet Canada. “We just take so much pride and there is so much focus on the game. Hockey in Canada is like football, basketball and baseball combined in the U.S.

“One of the biggest factors is there is so much scrutiny, so much pressure, so much expectation on the Canadian hockey player that playing in Canada becomes a real burden — not for all players, but for some. Every time a team such as the Jets gets to this stage, it’s not just the city anymore, it’s a whole country that’s cheering for them. That’s a great thing, but it also can be a burden.”

There are 31 NHL teams, and only seven are headquartered north of the border, so that also reduces the odds of a Canadian team winning the title. It’s not like all those years when there were but six teams, and two were called Canadiens and Maple Leafs.

Hockey, as MacIntyre pointed out, is Canada’s game, and despite the influx of swift-skating Swedes and flying Finns and burly Russians with unkempt beards this time of year, 446 of the NHL’s 985 players (45.3 percent) are Canadians.

Of the final four playoff teams, the Golden Knights have 20 Canadians who appeared in games this season, the Jets 15, the Tampa Bay Lightning 16, the Washington Capitals 11.

So it’s not as if a Canadian won’t be skating around the ice with the Cup in a fortnight or so. There just won’t be Canadiens. Or Maple Leafs, Senators, Oilers, Flames or Canucks. And if the Golden Knights have anything to say about it, Jets.

All eyes on Jets

The upstart Jets are the last team skating with inherent knowledge that one Canadian dollar is worth 78 cents in Las Vegas, Washington and Tampa, and so the Jets must feel a bit like Joe DiMaggio in “Mrs. Robinson.” A nation has turned its lonely eyes to them.

This was something with which Joltin’ Joe never had to be concerned. When he was playing, the Yankees won nine World Series championships. There were only 16 teams, and none were named Blue Jays or Expos.

And Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ontario) had yet to pitch a complete game, and Toronto native Joey Votto wasn’t yet born.

Any discourse of this topic would not be complete without having native Canadian son, longtime minor league tough guy, short-time Golden Knights season-ticket holder and Henderson bar and grill owner Bob “The Hammer” Fleming weigh in.

“It’s very important to any Canadian. Hockey is such a focal point,” the Hammer said in reference to the Stanley Cup championship drought before dumping the puck on what he believes are three reasons for it: U.S. free-agent dollars, U.S. swimming pools, the percentage of U.S. teams as opposed to those in Canada.

Fleming grew up in Calgary, so it was assumed he followed the Flames once they arrived from Atlanta. Or at least the Canadiens or Maple Leafs from a distance.

Not really, he said sheepishly.

“I liked Bobby Orr and big, bad Bruins. I was a Bruins fan.”

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

Golden Knights Videos
Coach Gallant Speaks to media about game 5 against the Sharks - VIDEO
Golden Knight's coach Gerard Gallant speaks at City National Arena following thursday's game 5 against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Knights Fans Watch Game 5 At Henderson Pavilion - Video
Golden Knights fans gather at the Henderson Pavilion to watch game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Fans Land in San Jose - VIDEO
Four Golden Knights fans who traveled from Las Vegas talk about the experiences they've had in San Jose with fans and the police ahead of Game 5 and give their predictions for the final score of the game.
Shea Theodore says he's trying to be a threat in all phases - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights Defenseman Shea Theodore says he's trying to elevate his game in all phases and his teammate Alex Tuch talks about Theodore's growth as a player.
Knights preparing to play a "desperate" Sharks team on the road
The Vegas Golden Knights could close out their first playoff series on the road against the San Jose Sharks when Game 5 takes place at the SAP Center. The team says they're going to have to play their best to defeat a "desperate" opponent.
Coach Gallant speaks after practice, as the Golden Knights prep for Game 5
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant speaks to media after the team's open skate.
Sharks Coach: I think our emotions got away from us a little bit
Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer and center Joe Pavelski say the team needs to hold their emotions in check going forward. Pavelski talks about the Ryan Reaves effect.
2019 NHL Awards set for Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 19
During the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas, tribute was paid to first responders and survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting by a handful of Vegas Golden Knights. NHL Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer said that's why the league is moving the show to the site of the tragedy. The Mandalay Bay Events Center will host the ceremony on June 19th.
Ryan Reaves says Joe Thornton's Hit was "Gutless" - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says Sharks' forward Joe Thornton's hit on Tomas Nosek was "gutless." Thornton has been suspended for one game (game four on Tues., April 16) as a result of the hit.
Ryan Reaves Finally Throws Down with San Jose's Evander Kane - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says the fight between him and Sharks' forward Evander Kane was nine years in the making. Spectators finally saw the two battle it out in game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ryan Reaves Finally Throws Down with San Jose's Evander Kane - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says the fight between him and Sharks' forward Evander Kane was nine years in the making. Spectators finally saw the two battle it out in game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Golden Knights rookie team coach Rocky Thompson on Rookie Faceoff
Golden Knights rookie team coach Rocky Thompson discusses team's 7-6 win over Colorado in the Vegas Rookie Faceoff
Fleury's newborn son attends Game 3 - VIDEO
Marc-Andre Fleury's newborn son and his wife Veronique were in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena during game 3. Fleury talks about having his family there to support him.
Sharks and Knights players get physical during game 3 - VIDEO
Several fights broke out during game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Golden Knights and Sharks. Capping off the skirmishes was an intense showdown between Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane.
Golden Knights Fans Gather At T-mobile To Watch Game 3 Of The Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights fans gather outside of the T-Mobile arena to watch game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Knights GM says it was important for the team to sign Nikita Gusev
Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee says it was important for the team to sign Russian standout Nikita Gusev. The Knights announced they had signed the forward to a one-year, entry level contract on Sunday. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marc-André Fleury on flamingo
Marc-André Fleury on flamingo
Golden Knights Watch Party For Game 2 Of Sharks Series - Video
Golden Knights fans gather at Top Golf to watch the second game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks.
Gallant addresses the media after practice following a 5-2 loss
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant addresses the media after practice following a 5-2 loss to San Jose in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on lineup
Golden Knights Fans Gather Downtown For First Round of Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights fans gather downtown to watch the first game of the playoff series against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Edge Mailbag - April 10, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions.
Gallant on Golden Knights lineup against Sharks
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on lineup against the San Jose Sharks for Game 1 of the first round in the Stanley Cup playoffs. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Prepare for Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights players Shea Theodore and Jonathan Marchessault feel that the team is both mentally and physically prepared to take on the Sharks in round one of the NHL Playoffs.
Golden Knights sign defenseman Jimmy Schuldt to a one-year contract
The Golden Knights have signed free agent defenseman Jimmy Schuldt to a one-year, entry level contract. Schuldt comes to the Golden Knights after graduating from St. Cloud State University, where he lead the Huskies to a regular-season conference title and the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Golden Knights letting playoff mentality set in - VIDEO
As the Vegas Golden Knights finish out their season, the team and head coach Gerard Gallant talk about where their mindset is, how they are preparing for the playoffs and their win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Golden Knights Lose to Wild, Clinch Playoff Berth - VIDEO
Despite losing 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild, the Vegas Golden Knights are locked in to a playoff spot. Head coach Gerard Gallant and players discuss their performance against the Wild and what it means to go back to the playoffs.
Gallant on losing to the Avalanche
Gerard Gallant talks about the loss to Colorado. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Colorado loss
Gerard Gallant talks about the loss to Colorado. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Mailbag- March 27, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions.
Gerard Gallant on Paul Stastny
Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about Paul Stastny's role on the team. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on St. Louis goal
Gerard Gallant talks about St. Louis's third goal on March 25, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on St. Louis Blues
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's loss to St. Louis on March 25, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Host First Charity Night At T-Mobile Arena - VIDEO
The Vegas Golden Knights host their first annual charity night during the Red Wings game at T-Mobile arena. Fans were able to buy from two choices of backpacks full of VGK memorabilia. 1,500 Golden Knights Charity backpacks were filled and fans lined up to buy the backpacks. The charity gives it proceeds to various causes around Las Vegas in order to give back to the community.
Golden Knights shutout Winnipeg Jets, continue hot streak - VIDEO
The Vegas Golden Knights continue their hot streak as they shutout the Winnipeg Jets, 5-0. In their last 10 games, the Golden Knights have only lost once and have won four straight games.
Golden Edge Mailbag- March 20, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions.
The Cast of FS1's "Lock It In" talk Raiders and Golden Knights futures
With Las Vegas growing as a pro sports town, the cast of Fox Sports 1's "Lock It In" give their betting predictions on if the Vegas Golden Knights can make another run at the Stanley Cup and if the Raiders will make a Super Bowl in 2020.
Vegas Golden Knights coach and players proud of their recent play
After a 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers, the Vegas Golden Knights say their proud of the way they're playing as they prepare to face the San Jose Sharks on the road.
Golden Edge Mailbag - March 14, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions about how Mark Stone is affecting the team, Erik Brannstrom making his NHL debut and getting to know the team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant and the Golden Knights reflect on their win over the Calgary Flames - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant and players talk about protecting Marc-Andre Fleury when push came to shove. The team defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1 at the T-Mobile Arena and will take their 5-game win streak on the road.
William Karlsson talks before Ducks game
The Golden Knights center talked about Paul Stastny’s line, Reilly Smith’s between-the-legs goal and more.
Mark Stone Locker Room - Full Video
Mark Stone, who was traded Monday to the Vegas Golden Knights from Ottawa, speaks to the press about the move. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Golden Knights coach talks Mark Stone trade
The Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant discusses the team’s newest player, forward Mark Stone, acquired from the Ottawa Senators. (Ben Gotz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain doesn't deter hockey fans
Golden Knights and Bruins fans waited in long lines in the rain to get in to the T-Mobile Arena for the hockey game on Wednesday night.
Rain doesn't deter hockey fans at the T-Mobile Arena
A solid amount of Golden Knights and Bruins fans showed up at the T-Mobile for the hockey game despite inclement weather descending upon Las Vegas.
Mike Kelly talks about Golden Knights injuries
The Golden Knights assistant coach discussed injuries and the “dog days” of the season, on Feb. 19
Golden Knights ready to celebrate Valentine's Day
Even though they have a game on Feb. 14, Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Reaves are ready to spoil the ones they love this Valentine's Day.
Gallant talks about losing streak
Gerard Gallant talks about breaking a four-game losing streak. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on finishing road trip
Gerard Gallant talks about finishing the road trip on a high note. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant talks about the win over Detroit
Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the 4-3 win over Detroit on Feb. 7, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Karlsson
Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about William Karlsson. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on breaking the losing streak
Gerard Gallant talks about breaking a four-game losing streak agains one the NHL's best teams. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Valentin Zykov's goal
Gerard Gallant talks about Valentin Zykov's goal against Tampa Bay on Feb. 5, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-journal)
Gallant on penalty killing
Gerard Gallant talks about the Golden Knights' penalty killing against Tampa Bay on Feb. 5, 2019. (Davis Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on facing Tampa Bay
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on facing the Tampa Bay Lightning. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on Valentin Zykov
Golden Knight coach Gerard Gallant talks about Valentin Zykov. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on next game after loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallant talks to reporters after Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on big plays hurting Knights in loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallant talks to reporters after Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on breakaway goals in loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallant speaks to media after Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on loss to Panthers
Coach Gerard Gallent speaks about Knights loss to Panthers. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing