Could NHL home-nation advantage end Canada’s Cup drought?

Could NHL home-nation advantage end Canada’s Cup drought?

Ken Dryden became so accustomed to winning championships with the Montreal Canadiens the Hockey Hall of Fame goalie has difficulty assessing Canada’s Stanley Cup drought.

“It is bizarre,” Dryden recently told The Associated Press by phone from his home in Toronto.

“If you go back to the records, I remember, from 1944 to 1979, Canadian teams won 24 times or something,” he said. “It’s just amazing that was the case. And then from 1993, not at all. It is just a weird anomaly.”

Canada’s Cup total over that 35-year span is actually 27, with Dryden and the Canadiens claiming six of them from 1971-79.

But who’s counting?

“Yeah, it’s time,” Dryden said. “It’s been time for quite some time for a Canadian team to win. And I would think it would be fantastic if that happened.”

And on Canadian ice, no less.

The NHL playoffs are scheduled to be held exclusively in Canada, with games set to open in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, on Saturday. Not since 1925 has every NHL playoff game been held north of the border, when Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria were in the four-team mix.

And yet, even with six of Canada’s seven franchises competing in this year’s 24-team format, there is no guarantee one of them will become the first in 27 years to win the Cup since Montreal defeated the Los Angeles Kings in five games.

The streak is so long that 22-year-old New York Islanders prospect Kieffer Bellows wasn’t even born when his father, Brian, hoisted the Cup for Montreal.

“We’ve talked about it sometimes,” said Bellows, who was born in Minnesota, where his family maintained an off-season home. “Being from Canada (my father) is going to cheer for Montreal and stuff. He’s always going to have a soft place for them in his heart.”

The same goes for Philadelphia first-year coach Alain Vigneault. As former coach of the Canucks, Vigneault was in the most recent position of ending Canada’s drought in 2011, when the Canucks lost the final in Game 7 to Boston — also the last time the Cup was awarded in Canada.

“There’s no doubt that in Canada, hockey’s the No. 1 sport. You can probably say everybody’s focused on it 24 hours a day,” said Vigneault, whose Flyers will compete in a round-robin series to determine first-round playoff seeding. “There was obviously positive pressure in Vancouver I felt. And there’s some positive pressure here in Philly.”

Where once a Cup drought such as this would’ve made a significant dent in a passionate hockey nation’s psyche, the same can’t be said today.

Dryden, who went on to enjoy a successful career as an author, scholar and politician, believes Canada is a far more self-confident nation.

“Canada in 2020 is different from the Canada in 2000 or 1980,” said Dryden, who also noted how Canadians feared they were losing a grip on hockey with the NHL expanding into non-traditional U.S. markets and the Colorado Avalanche winning the Cup in 1996, their first season after relocating from Quebec City.

“We are a much more self-assured place than we used to be,” Dryden said. “We’re good at a lot of things And we know that we have created something pretty special here.”

In the present, that includes Canada’s far better effort in flattening the COVID-19 impact when compared to the U.S. It’s also “not a coincidence that the hub cities are Toronto and Edmonton,” as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week in citing health and safety issues in ruling out seven U.S. markets.

“Today we have many points of pride,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said.

“We have values that are admired around the world. We have a political culture that seems to work. It’s a functioning democracy where you don’t have polarization and terrible divisions happening,” he said. “And we’ve done a better job, though far from perfect, in addressing some issues to do with racism and discrimination.”

Important as hockey is to Canada, it is no longer the everything it once may have been, Tory added, noting how the Toronto Raptors captivated the nation in winning the NBA championship last year.

The game once predominantly played by Canadians is also now awash with American and European stars, with German Leon Draisaitl and Russian Artemi Panarin vying with Canada’s Nathan MacKinnon for MVP honours this year.

“Those things could’ve shaken us a lot, and maybe did. But I don’t think that’s the case now,” Dryden said.

Of course, Dryden is rooting for the drought to end. But he’s keeping it in perspective.

“It remains a deep hope, and wonderfully anticipated, but I don’t think it’s more than that,” he said.

___

For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

John Wawrow, The Associated Press

NHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rieley Kay owns both Moe’s Pizza and Cilantro and Chive which are businesses located in downtown Lacombe. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)
City of Lacombe announces updated plans for downtown redevelopment

The plan would see $1.7 million spent on the downtown over the next 10 years

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

The Lacombe Food Bank is still seeking donations for non-perishable items. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)
Fraserway RV donates $20,000 to Lacombe Food Bank

Fraserway RV is Canada’s largest RV dealership and has stores across the country including one in Lacombe.

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

The City of Lacombe hired the consulting company, Moorhouse and Associates, to carry out research for phase one of the Social Master Plan. The plan will help the city to learn what areas need the most support. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)
City of Lacombe announces first-ever Social Master Plan

The plan aims to discover what services need the City’s attention over the next five years

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

From l-r., first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden on stage at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.”

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Most Read