It is indeed a sad time for hockey fans across the great white north. With the playoff picture coming into sharp focus this week, it seems that the invites to the big dance for Canadian teams were lost in the mail this season.
It's a downright ugly thing. No Canada in the playoffs? How could this be? The last time something so tragic had happened was in the 1969-1970 NHL season. Back in those days, Canada had just 2 teams, the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs. The league featured just 12 teams in those days, but the sting wasn't any less.
So here we are once again. Canada, a country without a team. Looking for answers, trying to find any small sense of hope for the future. Looking, for a new team to root for. Well have I got just the team for you! Why not root for, the Minnesota Wild?
Sounds nuts doesn't it? A team that was off to their best start in franchise history, only to fall into the deepest pits of despair in January. A team who fired their head coach and replaced him with the interim head coach John Torchetti. Why would you want to root for a team that has little to no hope of making much noise in the post-season?
I get it. You're a weary bunch. It's been a long season of one misfortune after another. You don't want to pile onto the Wild bandwagon only to have it catch fire leaving much like the their equipment trailer did a few seasons ago in Ottawa. Allow me, if you will, an opportunity to entice you though.
- This is Minnesota. We are practically Canada-south. We share a border, and a lot of the same passion for winter sport. Hunting, fishing, all things wild, right? Snowmobiles, skiing, HOCKEY! So you don't have a team playing in the playoffs, why not latch on to one that is basically in Canada anyway?
- Lets face it. The Toronto Maple Leafs have one of the largest fan bases in the NHL, not to mention the largest in Canada. This is a team that has been fraught with disappointment over recent history. All of Canada has been pretty disappointing in their playoff runs of recent history. (see: # 3) So really, you're all used to it already. We're practically brothers in disappointment when it comes to our hockey teams. Rooting for the Wild would be just like rooting for the Leafs, or Canadiens, except with less maple syrup and more "What the heck is a Nordy?"
- Canada has not won a Stanley Cup since 1993. That was also the last season the Minnesota North Stars existed. Coincidence? I think not! Perhaps, by rooting for the Wild, you can help purge the 23-year curse that has befallen your country. Cheer for the Wild, it may help you win the Stanley Cup! Just not win it this year.
- Because we actually have winter here. That's right! Unlike many of the teams, like the Los Angeles Kings or the Dallas Stars, winter means something here. It's a savage time of year filled with shovels and snow plows. The nights are long and the days are freezing cold. The lakes and ponds freeze over, and you can typically find kids lacing up the skates on any given night for a little pond hockey. Winter is always coming in Minnesota, and a lot of us don't mind it so much.
- Root for the underdog. Why not? Sure, you could hitch your wagon to a powerhouse team like the Chicago Blackhawks, but do you really want to root for Patrick Kane? I didn't think so. Nobody does. Do you want to root for either of the New York teams? That's just gross. Tampa Bay? That team is about as far away from Canada as is possible! If you think about it, even if a Canadian team had made it into the playoffs they would have likely occupied one of the higher seeds anyway, just like the Wild are.