And you know what that means. Yes, it’s time for the annual blitz of stories about who gets to be “Canada’s Team”, the one NHL team that will carry the flag into battle and represent the hopes and dreams of a nation that hasn’t seen one of its teams capture a Stanley Cup since 1993. Diehard fans of the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and the country’s other teams will abandon their squads en masse to unite behind one remaining contender.
Has any actual hockey fan ever switched allegiances at this time of year? No, of course not. But with four days off between the end of the season and the start of the playoffs, we need something to fill air time and newspaper space.
So if you find yourself being chased down by a media member holding a microphone and frantically demanding to know which “Canada’s team” bandwagon you’ll be jumping on, you should at least be prepared to make an informed decision. Here are some of the points in favor of each of the two candidates.
Canucks – The entire roster shares a team-wide commitment to finding ways to lift the spirits of society’s least fortunate, we assume, since it would explain this week’s loss to the Calgary Flames.
Senators – Jason Spezza would probably really enjoy having the whole country cheering him on, and if we make him happy then maybe we can get him to do that creepy giggling thing again.
Canucks – If you decide to become a fan you can get up to speed on team history really quickly, without getting bogged down trying to memorize a bunch of Stanley Cup winners or Hall of Famers.
Senators – They’ve earned a reputation as a team that’s capable of doing the impossible during the postseason, in the sense that they have a history of losing to the Maple Leafs.
Canucks – Roberto Luongo enters the playoffs knowing that Vancouver fans are firmly behind him, apparently, since they immediately respond with a standing ovation every time he gets told to go sit on the bench for a rest.
Senators - The longer the Senators’ post-season run lasts, the better Erik Karlsson’s attempt at a playoff beard will make you feel about your high school yearbook photos.
Canucks - If you decide to cheer for Vancouver you’ll be joining a fan base that’s known as one of the most jovial and thick-skinned in the entire league, according to the Canuck fans who are currently holding my family hostage in case I make any diving jokes.
Senators – If you cheer against Ottawa then starting goaltender Craig Anderson may give you the finger, literally, if he’s recently been trying to make dinner.
Canucks – Vancouver’s home arena was the site of the memorable gold medal game at the 2010 Winter Olympics, which seems appropriate since that was the last time that everyone in Canada actually was cheering for the same team.
Senators – While it’s always possible that fans could riot after a tough playoff loss, it’s worth pointing out that in Ottawa a “riot” is when everyone decides to put their paper recycling at the end of the driveway even though they know it’s actually plastic recycling day.
Canucks – Let’s just say injured star Daniel Sedin has an excellent chance of passing his in-person concussion test with team doctors just in time to return for the playoffs, says his twin brother Henrik while drumming his fingers innocently.
Senators – If you enjoyed watching last year’s Canucks team make an emotional two-month run to the cusp of Stanley Cup glory, why not recreate that feeling this year by once again cheering on a team that will end up getting humiliated by the Bruins?