by Brian Beitz
Each year, once the Canucks have been eliminated from the playoffs, I dread one question. No, not my co-worker asking me if I thought “Lagono was losing on purpose,” though as of yesterday that is now high on my list. I dread the inevitable question of “Who are you going to cheer for now that your team is out?” The wonderful part about last year’s playoffs was that when the Canucks were eliminated, that question was moot. No more rounds,
nothing to live for no more teams to cheer for. I dread this question because a) I’ve been fairly smug all year about my favourite team’s chances and b) I have very mixed feelings on this topic.
Of course, the default would be to go for a Canadian team, but I’m not built that way. I love my country, but if the Canucks aren’t winning the Stanley Cup, it’s not coming “home.” Don’t get me wrong. I’d certainly be pleased if a Canadian team won the damn thing, as long as it isn’t Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, or Calgary. Winnipeg still falls into the lovable upstart category for me, and Ottawa’s win would show the Ontario market that a team could rebuild quickly without winning “a goddamned lottery,” right, Burkie?
Earlier today, Tyler talked about why he is cheering for the Capitals. As usual, he is wrong, wrong, wrong. I won’t be cheering for them. Nor will I be cheering for LA, St. Louis, Phoenix, Nashville, or Florida this year. Why? It’s simple. There’s only so many teams remaining in the league that have an ominous “Never” listed in the “Last Stanley Cup Win” column, and I’ll be damned if the Canucks will be sitting alone in that category like Phil Kessel at an All-Star game—maybe they’d pick you sooner if you didn’t cut your own hair, Phil.
Let’s look at some of the Stanley Cup droughts ongoing in the league, why I’m still able to take some solace when I look at Stanley Cup playoff history, and which teams Canucks absolutely cannot cheer for:
The Nashville Predators
When they entered the playoffs this year, the Preds were given a 20-1 chance at winning the Cup by Vegas odds-makers. Why oh why did I not get into some futures betting? Clearly, this team has a legitimate shot of winning the first cup in their 12-season history. Boooooo. Really though, they cannot win this year. The team is only in the playoffs for the 7th time. Everybody knows you have to learn to lose first, Nashville. Nobody can win so easily. Take a few decades to let the hurt sink in, then sit back and watch the magic think about maybe beginning to possibly happen in the somewhat near future. Besides, the 12th season is the season you make it all the way to the finals, only to be readily swept, right?
The Florida Panthers
What can you say about the Florida Panthers? This is a team that has had a remarkable and nearly unheard of turnaround by basically rebuilding the whole team through free agency. Unbelievably, 18 of the players on the roster were acquired this season. Really, I’m not too worried about this team getting their Stanley Cup anytime soon, but that’s exactly when they might surprise you; right, 1996? That was the first year the panthers made it to the playoffs, and they went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals before being swept by the Colorado Avalanche (which erased that team’s “never”). They have only reached the playoffs 3 times since and have a winless streak of 17 seasons. You see? This team could be trouble because they’ve learned how to lose! So let’s go Devils!
The Phoenix Coyotes
I’m sure it will come as a surprise to no one to see that the Coyotes have never won a cup since the team was formed in 1996-97, a streak of 14 seasons. However, one must include their history as the original Winnipeg Jets, who moved to the NHL from the WHA for the 1979-80 season. While the club has never won a Stanley Cup final, they have never lost one either. In their span of 31 seasons, the Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets have never made it to the final round of the playoffs. Among those losses they were twice eliminated in the Smythe Conference semis by the Canucks (1992-93). Seeing as they will be going up against a very competitive Predators team in the Western Conference semi-final, I don’t love their chances of breaking this streak, by which I mean I love their chances of not breaking the streak.
The Washington Capitals
As Tyler discussed, there’s a lot of reasons for cheering on the Capitals. Those reasons are stupid. If the Capitals win the Stanley Cup this year, their 36-season drought will be over, making the Canucks’ streak seem even worse. Is that what you want? In those 36 years, the team has only made the finals once, losing to the Red Wings in 4 games. This year could be different. Obviously, after taking down a fairly sturdy Boston squad (sturdy is Swedish for “goony”—Boston is goonier than the Goonies; they even have their own Sloth!), Washington has shown they have what it takes to win a few rounds. They must be stopped. Of course I don’t mean actively stopped. I mean cheer against them. It can be devastating for a team when Canucks fans cheer against them; just ask the Canucks.
The LA Kings and St. Louis Blues
I lump these teams together because I collectively refer to them as “the buffer.” Of the 30 current NHL franchises, the Kings and Blues are the only two teams to have never won the cup that have been around longer than the Vancouver Canucks.* As long as these two teams remain in the league and don’t win a cup, we’re safe. They have now each gone 43 seasons without Cup wins (which I’m sure has something to do with Drew Doughty being a bit of a wiener), despite reaching the finals a combined 4 times—St. Louis reached the Stanley Cup finals in each of the first 3 years of the franchise, and then never again. But what do you expect when you base your team’s name on a music that developed over centuries of loss and hardship?
These two teams are wonderful because they allow me to say things like, “St. Louis and LA haven’t won a cup either, and they’ve been around way longer than the Canucks.” I’d like to say thank you to these franchises. LA, St. Louis, what can I say? I hope you both lose this year.
*Note: The Buffalo Sabres, joining the league in 1970 with the Canucks, have never won and have a drought equal to the Canucks. They’re not listed here because they didn’t make the playoffs this year, probably because Cody Hodgson is such a defensive liability.
Still, if one of these teams does win it all this year, it won’t be so bad: the Canucks have more Presidents’ Trophies than all of the above teams combined—which we all know is the true test of a franchise’s value.
The Ottawa Senators
The Sens have not won a cup since their inception in 1992-93 (the inception of the franchise, not the Bruins’ inception of John Muckler, when they implanted an idea in his dream that Zdeno was not worth the money to re-sign). However, they have won a cup. The original Ottawa Senators won the Stanley Cup in 1927. They left the NHL in 1934. So I guess Ottawa doesn’t really count toward this list…
So there you have it. Canucks fans can’t cheer for the Capitals, the Panthers, or any team coming out of the Western Conference. We obviously can’t cheer for the Rangers, because it’s still too real, and the Devils are soooo boooring. Looks like, if they can pull out a win in New York tonight, we’re cheering for Ottawa this year! But if anyone asks, just tell them it’s because they’re a Canadian team.
Editor’s Note: Ottawa has been eliminated from the playoffs. There’s no one left to cheer for. How should I know what you should do? Get outside and throw a ball around you lazy lumps!