As Canadians, I've been guilty of this too, we cheer for our home team religiously all season long and into the playoffs. When they get eliminated we shift our allegiance to another Canadian team. Maybe the closest geographically, a team from the same division or the last one standing. When the teams from the great white north are bounced from the post season we tune out in droves. Neglecting the fact the two teams that eventually fight for Lord Stanley's Cup are loaded with our boys.
Last year's winners, the Anaheim Ducks, had about the same number of Canadian players as their opponent the Ottawa Senators. Pronger, Giguere, Getzlaf, Perry, the Neidermayer brothers and others all brought the cup north to celebrate their victory. I personally was just as pleased to see Ottawa native Sean O'donnell win last year as I would have been to see Senators captain Daniel Alfredson become the first European captain to hoist the cup.
This year's final could be the NHL's dream come true as the original six Red Wings take on the young guns from Pittsburgh. I can't remember when I was this excited for a Stanley Cup Final. The last time a cup final was so widely anticipated may have been back in '94 when Messier led the Rangers to their first cup win in fifty four years.
As the Conference Finals both went to 3-0 and a Detroit/Pittsburgh final seemed inevitable, I wanted to follow Pierre Mcguire's lead and not pick a winner. Just enjoy what will surely be one for the ages. There is a strong argument for both teams but something happened in the Western Conference's game 6 that changed my mind.
When Kris Draper gave the Wings a 1-0 lead against the Dallas Stars by scoring a goal with his face I picked Detroit to win the cup. So much has already been said and will be written about the superstars - Crosby, Malkin, Zetterberg, Lidstrom and all the others (heck, this could almost be an All - Star game.), it's the players like Draper who bring their work boots and work ethic with them every day to the rink that will be the deciding factor. This guy could be a captain on almost any other team with his grit, determination, leadership and perseverance. All the qualities Canadian's love. So why are we not celebrating these guys instead of moaning about Montreal being the last Canadian team to win it all in '93?
Hang in there Canada!! Although it will be another year before a Canadian team gets the chance to play for the cup, take heart in the fact that some of our finest hockey citizens are in the finals. The Stanley Cup will be coming north of the border for a visit this summer. The beautiful thing about the sports world - there's always next year.
Last season Alfie was the first European captain to lead his team to the finals. This year Lidstrom will be the first European captain to be handed the Cup.
Detroit Red Wings in six games.