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2013-14 NHL Season: One For Canada To Forget

Ben Ebert |
March 30, 2014 | 7:48 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Vancouver fans rioted after the Canucks lost in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final (Google Images).
Vancouver fans rioted after the Canucks lost in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final (Google Images).
It may be considered the official winter sport in Canada, but the best hockey in the NHL this season is being played south of the border. The 2013-14 NHL season has exposed what many rabid Canadian hockey fans would consider a dark age for Canada’s NHL franchises. It has been 21 years since the Stanley Cup has called a Canadian city its home for an offseason, back when the Montreal Canadiens won it in 1993, and the chances of breaking that streak this year are slim to none. The Canadiens look to to be the lone Canadian NHL team of seven in this year’s postseason, something we haven’t seen since 1973, when Montreal was again the only Canadian NHL playoff team. This highlights a big issue for hockey fans in Canada, as they watch historically elite franchises such as the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs continually fall short year after year.

Last year looked to be a turning of the tides season for the Maple Leafs as they snapped their seven-year playoff drought, only to be eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins. It was a step forward for the franchise it seemed, as the Leafs this season looked determined to make a strong push for the postseason. But after recently dropping eight straight games, Toronto now sits in fourth in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race, behind Detroit, Columbus and Washington, all of whom have at least one game on hand to Toronto.

The Edmonton Oilers have had the number-one overall draft pick for three years in a row from 2010-2013, but still have not been able to dig themselves out from the bottom of the league. Fans in Edmonton have resorted to buying ad space on a billboard next to an Edmonton highway to express their frustration.

Ottawa’s playoff chances seem just out of reach this year, a disappointment from last season when they made it to the Conference Semifinals despite injuries. The Senators looked to have a legitimate shot for a playoff run with a majority of their lineup healthy. It seems the loss of captain Daniel Alfredsson and the poor defensive play of Erik Karlsson have been costly this year for the Sens.

Both the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets have light at the end of the tunnel, as the Flames have displayed potential in their current rebuilding process, while the Jets, although coming up short for the playoffs this year, have shown inspiring performances behind new coach Paul Maurice.

Meanwhile in Vancouver, the drama has continued since the Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in game seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals which sparked a riot in downtown Vancouver. Since then, the Canucks have been eliminated twice in the first round of the postseason in 2012 and 2013, and the team appears unlikely to even make a playoff appearance this season.

The 2014 Olympic Gold Medal-winning Team Canada had only four of its 25 players from Canadian NHL teams, two of which were from Montreal. Top Canadian talent has flowed to American NHL franchises, and it does not look like that will be ending anytime soon. Canadian hockey fans can only hope that next year will bring more success, or they may be counting down the days to the next Winter Olympics.

Reach Staff Writer Ben Ebert here.



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