As a Canadian and of course a hockey fan I ponder the contradiction surrounding the central sport of the true North. For example, how can Canada successfully command the men’s hockey championship in consecutive Winter Olympics in 2010 and 2014 and only one Canadian NHL franchise even make a showing in the playoffs in 2014?
I headed south to Florida early in 2014 after spending all of 2013 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. I moved to Canada to show my US-born kids the true north. Neither of my young girls had seen snow before but would come to know it very well in one of the coldest winters on record. I showed them basic hockey and we played a version of the sport called boot hockey in the snow on a driveway with friends. Hockey is in the culture and I enjoyed watching the Sochi Olympics like every Canadian for the combined win of the women’s and men’s hockey teams. Candidly, I left Canada mid-winter because of the high cost of living and the blasted cold.
Some key players are leaving professional Canadian hockey and heading south too. With regrets, Daniel Alfredson headed south to the Detroit Red Wings after 14 years as the Captain of the Ottawa Senators to hopefully see a shot at the Stanley Cup. My personal favorite, Alberto Luongo left the Vancouver Cancucks and returned to work again with the Florida Panthers after many years with the Cancucks. Management issues plague both Toronto and Vancouver. Canadian hockey in the National Hockey League (NHL) is in disarray again.
There are some hopeful stories. The goaltender of Canada’s only NHL franchise to make the 2014 playoffs is also the goalie from the 2014 Sochi gold medal hockey team. Carry Price has the opportunity to make Canada explode this spring if he can carry Canadians twice to the top of the hockey world in both Sochi and the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, many Canadians will be cheering against Price and the Habs even though it is the last national NHL team in the playoffs because of deep hockey rivalries in the country.
Hockey culture is perfect for Olympic success but seems insufficient for NHL success in Canada. Canadians are divided by hockey in the NHL and united by hockey in the Winter Olympics. This context may help to explain the contradiction in outcomes for Canada.
This article was written by Mr. Robert Hudson, Director of Library/Archivist of the United States Sports Academy.