When it comes to watching playoff hockey, I tried. I really did. But as a Canadian, I've finally reached my limit. Quite simply, I've completely lost interest.
This year's playoffs started out great with five Canadian-based teams in the hunt, one of those teams being my hometown Ottawa Senators. Even when Ottawa was down three games to none to the Montreal Canadiens, I was still glued to the TV set.
When my Senators lost in six, that was disappointing but Montreal was my team growing up so I was still happy to cheer them on in the second round. And although Winnipeg bowed out early, Calgary was still playing so my hopes that the Stanley Cup would finally return to Canada were still alive.
Needless to say, those hopes were dashed once again as Montreal fell to Tampa Bay and Calgary lost to the Anaheim Ducks. My interest was waning fast but this was playoff hockey so I tried my best to work up some interest for the conference finals.
The hockey was still entertaining and maybe two of the old original six would prevail and meet in the final round. If the Chicago Blackhawks faced off against the New York Rangers, maybe, just maybe, I would continue to watch the games.
Instead, I'm now faced with a final series between Chicago and the Tampa Bay Lightning. How unfair is that? Let's face it -- folks in Chicago prefer baseball, football and basketball to hockey. Plus, they've already won the Stanley Cup twice in the last five years. As for Tampa, it's a city where the only time you see ice outdoors is in highballs or picnic coolers.
What happened to Canada's national championship? As far as I can tell, Lord Stanley wanted his cup to go to the best team in Canada. I doubt he envisioned awarding it to some team based in Florida.
How can I work up enthusiasm for a hockey series between two teams based in cities that have little or no interest in the game? Sure, both have Canadian players on their rosters but it's hard to get excited about an American team which has already won the Cup multiple times and another whose fans barely know an offsides from an icing call.
Call me a jealous whiner but I can't bear the thought of Chicago winning again. What's particularly galling is what might happen if Tampa Bay should emerge victorious. Chicagoans at least know how to celebrate a winner but I doubt that Tampa does. If a Canadian team could ever manage to win a Cup, the winning city would throw a huge parade and the celebration would last for days.
If Chicago wins, there'll be a parade. But if Tampa Bay wins, you can be assured of one thing: any celebration will be muted at best. Don't believe me? Think back to 2007 when Anaheim, another southern team, defeated my Senators in five games only to hold their victory celebration in a parking lot. Don't expect much better from Tampa if they win this year although one can always hope that they'll at least take a bus to Orlando and hold a party at Disney World.
Do I sound bitter and jealous? Well that's because I am. It's hard to watch as year after year Canadian-based teams fall by the wayside. This year is particularly hard to take as undeserving fans in some southern, hockey-less city might end up celebrating the winning of what is supposed to be a Canadian trophy.
However, in true Canadian fashion, I'll be back next season with renewed hope that a Canadian team might finally win back Lord Stanley's trophy and end this almost 25-year drought. Who knows? If they make it to the finals, I might even cheer for the Leafs.
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