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Sens, Habs out…Cheer for Canadian players this postseason

April 19th,2023 | Opinion

If you really want to see the Stanley Cup spend the summer in Canada, you should be cheering for the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2023 NHL Playoffs.

With both the Senators and the Habs missing the postseason, some hockey fans, who aren’t quite ready to hang up the skates, may be looking for another team to cheer for and another reason to keep watching hockey this year.

Enter the Vegas Golden Knights. The team boasts the most Canadian-born players on their roster with a staggering 21 of their stars – 70 per cent of the team – hailing from the True North Strong and Free.

Every year come playoff time, as I’m sipping stressful beers at the Manchester Bistro Pub or Kaffe 1870, I often get odd looks from other hockey fans wondering why I cheer when an American team scores on one of our Canadian squads in the playoffs. The answer is simple: once my Calgary Flames or Toronto Maple Leafs are out of contention, I don’t really care which team wins the Stanley Cup — I just want to see Canadian players hoist it.

Hockey fans will argue that once there is a single Canadian team left, they automatically become “Canada’s team,” but I don’t know too many Senators fans who will voluntarily cheer for the Leafs once Ottawa’s season is over. It just doesn’t work that way. Toronto does, however, boast 15 Canadians on its roster, so Sens fans could be forgiven if they choose to don the blue and white this summer.

When an NHL team wins the Stanley Cup, every player on the roster gets to spend some quality time with the cup — usually with players taking it on a hometown tour to the local hockey rink where they learned to play. If the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup, there are a lot of Canadian towns — and a lot of hockey-loving Canadian kids that will get a special moment with Lord Stanley’s coveted cup.

While there aren’t any active NHLers from the Hills in the postseason, the closest we could see the cup show up this summer is in Ottawa — if former Senator and current New York Islander Jean Gabriel Pageau is able to realize his childhood dream of winning an NHL championship. I’m sure this would also make a lot of Sens fans smile.

The Winnipeg Jets have just 10 Canadians on their team, so not too much allegiance there and the Edmonton Oilers, who hockey insiders say are Canada’s best shot at a Stanley Cup, have 14 Canadians on their roster, including Ottawa’s Cody Ceci. Another bummer is that Oilers star forward Connor McDavid has publicly stated that one of his favourite bands is Nickelback.

Pick a team, pick some friends, and pack a local pub for some good old-fashioned playoff hockey — even if your team is already out.

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