Here we are, not quite in mid-May, and once again Canada will be without a Stanley Cup Champion. It has now been 22 years and counting since Montreal took down the Los Angeles Kings…and Wayne Gretzky still in his prime to bring the Stanley Cup north of the border.
I am of the mind that with the majority of teams in the NHL stocked with Canadians anyway, that the Cup returns home every year, but that isn’t what a lot of people want. They want the Cup here in Canada, and even if it was God forbid Toronto, at least we could say we had a champion.
So where does it go wrong every year for Canada? If I knew that, I could run the country! There is no Caramilk secret when it comes to why Canada hasn’t had a champion in nearly a quarter century. The Stanley Cup is hard to win, the hardest trophy to win in any sport, anywhere on this Earth.
I will share a theory though, one that we will never be able to shake, and that is the burden of expectation. Hockey is our game, we invented it and therefore it is ours. We expect our teams to win everything when it comes to hockey and we quickly forget that up until 2002, we had gone 50 years as a nation without winning a gold medal in Olympic Hockey.
There are three years in Vancouver that Canucks fans cherish more than any other, 1982, 1994 and 2011. Those are the three seasons of the Canucks greatest successes and also of their greatest disappointments.
We can never lower our expectations for the success of hockey in this country, and we never will. But until we get past the critical thinking that we have when we fail, and turn those failures into key learnings, this cycle will repeat itself again and again.