Not since former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, who was mayor of Calgary at the time, proclaimed that the bums and creeps should go back to Ontario, has there been such a backlash towards Central Canada.
But with word leaking out at which cities (hint they’re in the east and north of the border) scuttled the idea of a more equitable schedule and more frequent appearances in the far off territories, the reaction has been rather nasty.
Edmonton, bemoaned the lack of stewardship by the Commissioner who according to reports didn’t exactly smack the table and read the riot act for the good of the game.
The always excitable Vancouver radio shows blasted the self centered decision of the self obsessed of Central Canada, suggesting that they were only in the collective of the NHL for the good of their own franchises and not the game as a whole. (well they used much more descriptive language but we shudder at the cost to national unity if we repeat them verbatim)
They also brought up an interesting point, what will happen to Hockey Day in Canada next year, if lets say the Vancouver Canucks are kept on the coast. Somehow Atlanta and Phoenix as the night cap of the trilogy of hockey schmaltz just isn’t going to wash with the viewers of the Hockey Night in Canada propaganda machine. Another fine tradition laid to waste by the short sighted machinations of the Atlantic Division it seems.
The teams in the Northeast corridor have had a pretty good run of things the last few years; their travel costs are laughable as is the concept of a road trip for teams in the Four State area of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts. In a good month, players on those teams can spend a good portion of each night in their very own beds, while the western teams wonder if they can get one more day out of the underwear before they need to hit a Wal Mart.
The Western teams knew that the vote would be close and that it would be a hard go at the Eastern American teams, but the shock of hearing that Ottawa and Montreal turned their backs on their fellow Canadians and voted for the status quo, was too much to take.
Eventually the ill will probably fades away, but for the immediate period, it’s like a rerun of the seventies, when Central Canada played the villain in Alberta and BC. It’s a good thing that Molson’s no longer owns the Habs because product boycotts have been launched for lesser slights!
The good news for easterners seems to be that Toronto actually cast a vote in favour of a change, which will make it a lot harder to hate the Leafs in Western Canada.
It’s a feeling of goodwill that won’t be extended to the Sens and Habs for the foreseeable future.