A Very Canadian Cup Final

WELL, they tried; but give the Ottawa Senators credit: they had, hands down, their greatest season ever and could promise to do even more damage next spring. Yes, it is very disappointing for Canadians to have sit through a record ninth straight year without a Canadian team in the Stanley Cup Finals, but, despite all the disappointment, there’s probably never been a better year than this in recent memory for Canadians to get excited about the Cup Finals, since these Finals are very Canadian in spirit.First off, the majority of the key players- on both sides- are Canadian. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks have such stalwarts as Paul Karyia, Adam Oates, and Mike LeClerc, not to mention the fact the biggest name in these playoffs- Jean-Sebastien Giguere- is a Canadian himself, a product of Montreal. On the New Jersey Devils, there’s Jeff Friesen, Scott Stevens and John Madden, not to mention another Montrealer in Martin Brodeur. Sure, there’s other nationalities who also play a big role (and not to discredit their roles either)- like Americans Keith E. Carney and Scott Gomez, Russian Stanislav Chistov and Czech Patrik Elias- but if cheering on fellow Canadians is the trick, both teams have plenty to go about.

Secondly, the stories surrounding both clubs are Canadian in nature. From my experience as a Canadian myself, we’ve always liked to see ourselves as the perennial underdogs, people who get no respect yet triumph against all odds. That exact same mentality surrounds both clubs. With the Ducks, it’s obviously easy to see why: before this year, Anaheim was written off everyone’s playoff pools before a single regular season game started. In fact, nobody- up until now- would have ever counted the Ducks in for the Cup Final, probably best summed up by the TSN commentary after the Ducks swept the Detroit Red Wings: “everyone thought this series would go to four, but nobody thought it would go to the Ducks”. Eight wins later- over the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild, no less- and here they are, competing for Lord Stanley’s Mug.

The Devils’ story entails a lot more than the Ducks’ story, but it’s still there. Up until very recently- and we’re talking 1997- New Jersey had been, for years, seen as a downtrodden franchise, one that would never amount to anything in the long run. Before 1988 (when the Devils played Cinderella and got all the way to the Conference championship), New Jersey had been to the playoffs just once- as the Colorado Rockies in 1977. The following year, the Devils didn’t even make the playoffs, and it wasn’t until 1994 that they actually advanced past the first round (though remember back then it was much easier to qualify for the post-season). In 1994, New Jersey managed to get all the way up until a Game 7 in the Conference Finals, but despite all that, they didn’t manage to earn any respect. In 1995, New Jersey rode a wave of support, playing Cinderella again all the way up to the Cup, sweeping “big, bad” Detroit. In 1997, the Devils began three straight years being the top regular season team in the Eastern Conference, only to fall each year in the first round of the playoffs. It wasn’t until 2000 that New Jersey won again, and managed to almost repeat in 2001, being the first team in National Hockey League history to have their hopes at repeating dashed in Game 7 of the Cup Final. Last year, we all remember the Devils losing the Carolina Hurricanes, that year’s Cinderella story, and this year, well, we’re working on it.

However, the point here is that it’s not until recently would anyone think New Jersey would become a major player in the NHL, just like Anaheim. Even with all the wins, the Devils still don’t enjoy nearly the support Detroit, Colorado or Dallas enjoy (failing to produce sellouts for one), and, for all intents and purposes, are still seen as the poor cousin to the teams out West or even the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers out East. Try as they might, New Jersey are simply seen as a glorified Ducks, and even if they do win, it still might not even be enough.

If nothing else, Canada, just remember this: as “bad” as Colorado, Detroit or Dallas may be, throwing money at just about everyone to build their teams, New Jersey builds their team the right way. None of their trades for major players involve the Devils giving up piecemeal (like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jaromir Jagr) and are actually, reasonably, fair (Jason Arnott for Joe Nieuwendyk, Petr Sykora for Jeff Friesen), and the Devils’ biggest gun, Brodeur, is one of their draft picks and has been within the franchise since he was drafted in 1990. Their payroll is reasonably fair (I’m not sure what the number is, but I’m fairly certain it’s below $45 million) and they have players like Brodeur and Stevens playing for far less than market value (they’re playing for $7 million a year). So, if nothing else, New Jersey are not nearly as “better off” as Detroit, Colorado and Dallas are to the Canadian teams.

So, cheer up Canada. Our teams may be gone, but it’s still a very Canadian final nonetheless; and, if people still refuse to believe me, well, at least I tried.


14 Responses to A Very Canadian Cup Final

  1. jon95616 says:

    Go Ducks Go!!!

    J.S. Giguere tonight on Jay Leno!

  2. devfanman4 says:

    Very nice article DG. The Devils are #3 in wins since 1995 trailing only Detroit and Colorado. I don’t understand it. They don’t get any respect yet alot of people pick them as a favorite and now 3 of the past 4 years, the Devils have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

    Here in New Jersey we’re stuck between two great historical franchises – The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. Most of the people I know are Flyers or Rangers fans in New Jersey. Numbers are small for us Devils fans but we’re as diehard as any fans of any other team.

    Let’s Go Devils!

    We Want the Cup!

  3. big_booty says:

    Meaningless article.

    Who the hell cares where the players are from? The only things that matter now are the sweaters on their backs and the hockey that they play.

    If Canadians are pissed off because there’s not a Canadian franchise, well that’s too damn bad. Maybe they should get better teams.

    Ottawa had a shot, but they got beaten by a better team. A team from New Jersey.

    Contrary to popular Canadian belief, the Apocolypse will coincide with an Anaheim or Jersey Stanley Cup victory.

  4. devsfan9500 says:

    “Here in New Jersey we’re stuck between two great historical franchises – The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. Most of the people I know are Flyers or Rangers fans in New Jersey. Numbers are small for us Devils fans but we’re as diehard as any fans of any other team.”

    very nicely put…i couldnt agree with you more


  5. nskerr says:

    I have to agree with previous comment about who cares where a player is from, it depends on what city they represent. It gets a little tiring hearing Canadian fans screaming they haven’t won a cup in almost a decade. It amazes me how their team can be knocked out and then they root for the next Canadian team. I would never root for the Rangers as an Islander fan just because they represent America.

    Most Americans root for the underdog, so I would think Anaheim will get the nod unless you are a Kings fan or one of the teams Anaheim eliminated. The Devils (although boring as hell) are an unbelievable team. Although they almost blew the Ottawa series, Ottawa is very talented. Giguere is a very good goalie, but so is Brodeur and I think the experience and talent of NJ will prevail over Anaheim in 6.

  6. Habfanforever says:

    I have to disagree with the previous two comments. As far fetched as it may seem, what would Americans think if major league baseball clubs would move to Canada and the World series was won here 10 years in a row. We are a smaller country but it doesn’t mean we have to have less pride. Even though a country where the Stanley cup is won is meaningless to the rest of you, it doesn’t mean it has to be meaningless to us. The cup was born here, was won countless times here and now as hockey disintegrates and loses a lot of it’s charm to the almighty dollar as the clubs move away to bigger American cities with more cash, our pride and history in this game only gets stronger and stronger.

    Look at Basketball, the game was invented here but now there is barely a trace of what it used to be. Giving an 18 year old 90 million dollars for 3 years, that is not only outrageous, in my opinion, it takes away a lot of credibility to the sport.

    FYI Big_Booty, it is not as easy as “getting better teams” if we don’t have astronomical amounts of cash to throw at ufa’s like American owners who seem to have more money than brains.

  7. JeffBurnz09 says:

    This whole Canada thing is getting insane. Can’t we just watch the teams and enjoy the games without using it to try and prove Canada is better than everyone? I’m Canadian myself, and I have to say it’s getting so annoying.

    Anaheim is a Canadian like team? last I checked their one of those teams that Canadian’s resent. They’re in California, a part of the world Canadians don’t feel should have a hockey team. They’re owned by Disney, and their billions of dollars. Just because Disney didn’t buy a championship years ago doesn’t mean they couldn’t have. They’re paying Kariya 10 million to be a minus player. If Kariya wasn’t Canadian, people would mention how his +/- and point production has dropped year after year. Plus if Anaheim does win the cup, and even make the playoffs next year, no doubt they’ll be the new Dallas Stars, with bitter Canadian’s bitching about how they shouldn’t have a hockey team, they’re sick of them winning, etc…If Anaheim starts to drop Vancouver every year like Dallas does to Edmonton, they’ll be the most hated team in Canada.

    The reason the Ducks don’t get respect is that they’r really not as good as they appear. Carolina made the finals last year, are they a great team? Nope. Anaheim has a bunch of average players and veterans with one last playoff run in them giving it their all, and they’re still only where they are because of Giguere. This isn’t the start of a new power team in the West, it’s a fluke year.

    New Jersey I have to respect. They made good trades to get where they are now. I wouldn’t exactly call the Niewendyke/Langenbrunner for Arnott trade fair, but it worked out well for Jersey. They got a proven veteran that Dallas fan’s have wanted back ever since, and a young player who showed he could score in Dallas, and then broke out in New Jersey. Dallas got Randy MacKay (who?) and Jason Arnott, who will never be what teams expected of him. Every team that gets him thinks he’s about to break out into a true superstar, but he’s really not going to. He’ll score, but he’s not a superstar. I do respect them though. They have the best goalie in the game, and he doesn’t even need to pad himself up like he’s on a space walk to do it (I’m looking at you, Jiggy).

  8. Just-Checking-In says:

    “…since these Finals are very Canadian in spirit.”

    If Ottawa had won, would the talk of the finals then have been European based?

    Captain Daniel Alfredsson

    Marain Hossa

    Martin Havlat

    Zdeno Chara

    Magnus Arvedson

    I think it would most likely have focused on a Canadian team.

    Also, about the only place that it matters is in Canada.

  9. Primis says:

    I have to disagree with the previous two comments. As far fetched as it may seem, what would Americans think if major league baseball clubs would move to Canada and the World series was won here 10 years in a row.

    We’ll gladly give you to Tigers! And the Yankees! Hell if you want take all of Major League Baseball from us! It’s got to be by far the worst sport out there anymore and the biggest waste of money that could easily be better-spent elsewhere… and take NASCAR while you’re at it, ugh…

    As to the whining and complaining of Canadians about losing “their game” — if you don’t like it DO something about it! Go to more of your team’s games! Get season tickets! Any time I see empty seats at an arena, Canadian or American, I can’t say I feel sorry if that team leaves town or enters into a downward spiral.

  10. gladiator says:

    Wow who would have thought of a DUCK/DEVIL Stanley Cup Final?????????!!!!

    The DEVILS in the final??!!! wow, amazing.

  11. Habfanforever says:

    It’s nothing “I” can do about it! I blame the coin! 3 American Eagles are worth one Canadian loony. Personally, I feel that in any pro sport, cash talk takes away a lot of the fun, charm and entertainment. I don’t whine about losing Canadian clubs, in fact I wouldn’t mind seeing the leafs move to Europe, as far away from here as possible, not because I am a hab fan but because they throw stupid amounts of money at underachieving, overrated 30 year old babies, not quite unlike most American markets. The US team that I like are belive it or not the smaller market ones like Buffalo or even Minnesota. I like players who want to play and win, not sit out on contract talk because they’re worried of their great-grandkids’ retirement. I mean who really gives a f*ck about their financial life, we pay 60+$ ticket prices and about 25$ for two hot dogs and a beer.

    Bigger cliubs with more cash make it easier for people like us to complain, especially those of us who live north of the border and know damn well that buying season tickets year after year wouldn’t stop those billionaires to take away the sport we all grew up watching, religiously.

  12. DG says:

    I know there’s some of you wondering why I took the time to write this because- and I’ll agree- in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter.

    However, I felt that, after the Ottawa Senators lost, I had to say something. I knew there’d be many Canadians bitter about “yet another non-Canadian Cup Final”, storming off in disgust because the year didn’t go “as planned”. So, in light of all that, I wanted to show that this Final’s different than in year’s past: in other words, that it’s not as bad as it looks. There IS a reason that Canadians should continue to pay attention well after the Senators are gone, and that’s because the Finals are still very Canadian. They’re both, essentially, Cinderellas (because neither have the respect/notoreity the Detroit Red Wings, for example, have), a popular way Canadians have shaped their image (from my experiences) and they both have a high number of Canadian players (and to that end I don’t mean to call the Canadian teams’ content “foreign”- Canadians (outside of Don Cherry) have shown a willingness to embrace Europeans as their own- it’s just to say that it’s not like there’s no actual Canadians left fighting for the Cup).

    As a Canadian myself, yes, I would rather have Canadian teams in the Finals (one of my favourites, the Vancouver Canucks, is Canadian after all), but I, for one, am not at all disappointed for the Cup Final: in fact, I think this one will be the one I’ll be the most interested in years. If others don’t agree, well, so be it, but at least I tried.


  13. MantaRay says:

    Devils have the best TEAM in the NHL. Why is anyone surprised we are in the finals AGAIN!!

  14. sensman99 says:

    Shut up.

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