Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Woe Canada, the playoff options are dwindling

Monday night's Senators victory over the Winnipeg Jets left even Senators fans feeling a little down, while the Sens obviously needed to reverse the slide they were on heading into Monday night, the two points most valuable as they battle for a playoff spot, the victory all but sealed the fate of the Winnipeg Jets storybook return to Manitoba.

For in River city this year it seems there will not be playoff hockey, not that Manitoban's will be alone on the couch watching hockey from afar.

The Toronto Maple Leafs can officially start making their golf reservations, officially eliminated on Tuesday night, joining the Edmonton Oilers and the Canadiens de Montreal in trading in hockey pants for golfing shorts before April even arrives.

Standing on the bubble and more than likely to be on the outside looking in are the Calgary Flames, a team that must hope for a collapse of monumental proportions by all teams above them in the lurch towards eighth place in the West, something that seems less and less likely with each passing night.

That leaves Canadians with two teams from the home and native land to cheer on, Ottawa and Vancouver, neither of which it seems has universal adoration beyond their own metropolitan limits.  Ottawa of course just annoys the heck out of the nation mainly because of the folks that toil up on Parliament Hill, the blow back from their efforts seemingly washes over Kanata and taints the hockey team with the name of the city the nation seems to enjoy cheering against.

Likewise, as we found out last year the Canucks march towards Lord Stanley's Mug didn't exactly rally the nation to the flag, hell east of Quebec there were probably many more fans cheering on the Bruins in last years final than there would be cheering on the Canucks, the rest of the country it seems while watching the finals really didn't seem to get caught up in the passion of a Canadian participant after all.

Still, for Hockey Night in Canada as well as TSN, a lack of Canadian based involvement probably isn't what they had been hoping for when they divvied up the playoff rights, as it is now it would seem that we're going to learn a lot more in the first round about the Predators, Blues, Panthers et al than we might have had more Canadian teams managed to find enough points to make the playoffs.

Though there is hope for the networks and hockey fans from coast to coast to coast, we should all be hoping for Phoenix to make the playoffs and carry on deep, it might make for a dandy introduction for the folks in Quebec City, who seem destined to be opening up a kernel for the NHL's wandering dogs of the desert.

However, there is one caveat for that support, Quebec City's prospective owners and city officials probably  aren't hoping for a long Stanley Cup run for the Coyotes, somehow should they go deep into the playoffs one might wonder if the NHL would be willing to relocate a semi final participant or, God of all hockey willing, a Stanley Cup champion the year that they find such success.

So, we imagine when it comes to Phoenix, Canadians will be cheering for the underdog, but not for too long, no doubt preferring to see them migrate back to hockey country at the end of their playoff experience.

Globe and Mail-- Canadian teams barely a blip in the chase for Lord Stanley's trophy
National Post-- Canadian fans have little to cheer for in NHL playoffs

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