How long has it been since an NHL team from Canada has won Lord Stanley’s Cup? The answer is going on 30 years. The Edmonton Oilers had the last chance this season but were swept by the Colorado Avalanche who are up 3-1 in the Cup Final on the reigning two-time champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Now, for fans of Canadian teams, the long wait continues. Maybe next season?
The Montreal Canadiens: Canada’s Last Stanley Cup Winners
The last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup was the 1993 Montreal Canadiens. While speaking with Betway Insider, Hall-of-Famer Denis Savard – who played on that Montreal team – fondly recalls what it felt like to win the Cup. Even 30 years later, he remembers it vividly. He also believes it’s a feeling other players on Canada’s NHL teams would love to share.
Back in 1993, he would have never guessed a team from Canada would not be able to hoist the Cup – and it’s a heavy thing to hoist, Savard noted – for so many years. For as much as the Stanley Cup weighs, it also weighs heavily not to be able to partake in that experience.
Denis Savard Montreal Canadiens
During his career, Savard only won the Cup one time. And some NHL players – especially if they’ve played their entire careers in Canada – have never experienced it once.
Savard Has His Theories About Canada’s Stanley Cup Drought
Back in the day, Canadian teams dominated the Stanley Cup. In 1993, when the Canadiens won, Savard would never have thought it would be decades between Cup wins for a Canadian team.
That’s not how it used to be. Quite the opposite. Canadian teams dominated the NHL from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.
During the Betway interview, Savard speculated three reasons why Canadian teams have not won in so many years. Specifically, Savard believed two things have created the (im)perfect storm for Canada’s teams.
First, Savard argues that the modern NHL is deep in talent. Specifically, Savard argued that the space between wins is “pretty incredible,” which “just tells you the depth of our league.”
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 21, 2019
He added, “You’ve got franchises now that came in a few years back and have made it to the Finals. It’s very tough to build a winner. It’s as simple as that.”
Second, Savard believes players are no longer as motivated by the prospect of playing in Canada, when there are so many opportunities to play in the United States. Because the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) is as it is, “Players get a choice now. Being a free agent, they could go to Florida, play for the Panthers or for Tampa, you could go and play for Dallas.”
Savard offered specific examples and reasons when he noted, “When Canadian teams get really close to getting there, and they need that free agent, in a lot of cases they don’t get them.”
Instead, Savard noted, players “go with cities that are a little warmer for their families. Part of that has something to do with it, I think, free-agent players, choosing to go to other cities.”
Third, Savard hinted that Canada’s Stanley Cup drought has worked to create fewer Canadian Stanley Cup winners because Savard believes players ultimately seek a team they believe has the best chance of winning. When US-based teams have success season after season, that attracts players to those teams.
Savard Believes That’s Going to Change, And Soon He Thinks
However, because Savard believes players seek teams they believe have the best chance of winning, that bodes well for Canadian teams in the near future. Here Savard offered the specific example of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers.
Savard noted that, when John Tavares signed with Toronto, he “signed there thinking he could win a Cup.” And he believes the Maple Leafs are coming closer season after season. He also called Auston Matthews a great leader, something his recent Ted Lindsay Award might prove.
Savard added, “With the Canadian teams, the closer they get to winning a Cup, free agents will go there.” Living in Florida or Dallas is nice, but winning the Cup is attractive to players. The “ultimate goal is to raise the Cup.”
Where Do Savard’s Loyalties Lie?
Savard has retired in the Chicago area and retains connections to the Blackhawks, most recently as a team Ambassador. That said, listening to the interview with Savard, although he doesn’t say so specifically, there’s a sense that he’s personally rooting for a team in Canada to break the drought – and soon.
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