Canadian hockey fans mourn as country's teams miss NHL playoffs

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 31, 2016 5:02 PM

By Ethan Lou

TORONTO (Reuters) - Hockey fans in Canada, where the sport is followed with religious fervor, mourned on Thursday after learning that for the first time in 46 years no Canadian National Hockey League team will make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Ottawa Senators were the seventh and final Canadian-based team to be eliminated from postseason contention on Wednesday despite winning their game, leaving 16 U.S.-based teams to battle for the Stanley Cup.

The Philadelphia Flyers' shootout win over the Washington Capitals, which came within an hour of Ottawa's latest victory, mathematically eliminated the Senators from contention.

The Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks had already fallen short of qualifying for the playoffs.

The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America and is presented in June to the National Hockey League's playoff champion.

A Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993.

At Toronto's Shoeless Joe's Sports Grill, Maple Leafs supporter Jimmy Woo, 36, said it's upsetting to see Canadian teams lose their places to some southern U.S. teams in the playoff that are "from the desert."

A Twitter user with the handle @jasminethedruid said Canadian teams did not bring their "Eh game" this season, referencing a stereotypical Canadian way of speech, while the user @Erarick1 said he was disappointed and shocked.

"Hey Canadian hockey fans: How do you like us NOW? 22 years and counting the #StanleyCup will reside in USA," said a Twitter user with the handle @EdBerliner.

Stephanie Pacheco, manager at Shoeless Joe's, said the lack of Canadian teams in the playoffs might affect business, but not to a huge degree as not all Canadians are averse to watching any of the 23 American teams play.

"If your favorite team is not in the running, then you kind of switch over to your second favorite," she said.

The last time the Stanley Cup playoffs took place without a team from Canada was in 1970, when Toronto and Montreal were the only Canadian teams in the NHL.

Lord Stanley of Preston, at the time the Governor General of Canada, donated the Stanley Cup in 1893. It was originally known as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup and awarded to the amateur ice hockey champions of Canada but has been competed for by NHL teams since the 1926-27 season.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)