Monday, June 13, 2022

One dumb rule change that will bring the Cup back to Canada, sometimes

Last week, I wrote a piece about Canadian teams not winning the Stanley Cup. The drought is closing in on three decades, which is far longer than the math tells us should be possible. I came up with eight theories that could explain the streak, then picked them apart to see which ones held up.

The responses were interesting. Some of you agreed with the theories I posted, while others had theories of their own to share. Some Canadian fans admitted the whole thing bothers them, while others shrugged it off.

And some of you American hockey fans, like Jason here, decided to get cute:

Well joke’s on you, Jason, because that sounds like a great idea, and we’re going to do a post about it.

Welcome to an alternate history where it’s 1993 and new commissioner Gary Bettman, feeling guilty over how he’s about to rig the entire league against Canada, throws us a bone: Canadian teams can pool their wins together, and whichever one gets win number 16 wins the Stanley Cup. It’s not about which Canadian team is the best or even which one goes the further. Whoever gets that magic sixteenth with takes home the Cup.

Yes, this is dumb. Look, they made me write a grownup post last week, you knew something like this was coming.

By allowing the whole country to pool their wins together to get to 16, we can kiss the drought goodbye. Also, we can remember some playoff runs. It’s mainly the second thing, to be honest, but I suppose the Stanley Cup is important too. Let’s harness the power of teamwork and bring home some championships, eh.

In our alternate history, Canadian fans in 1994 are very confused about why the new commissioner has put these weird rules in place. We’ve won the Cup eight of the last ten years! Still, we’re Canadian, so we politely go along with it. And it pays off in a thrilling iniaugral race to the Cup.

Four of the eight Canadian teams make the playoffs this year, with the Canucks, Flames, Leafs and Habs all punching a ticket. The Flames and Canucks play each other, and it’s a classic seven-game series that ends on Pavel Bure’s memorable winner. The Habs lose in seven to the Bruins, but the Maple Leafs take out the Blackhawks in six. Add it all up, and Canada already has 14 wins in the bank at the end of round one.

That sets up a furious race to 16 between Vancouver and Toronto. The Canucks get the 15th win in Game 1 against Stars, while the Leafs lose to San Jose. That means that the Cup comes down to May 4, with both teams in action. Both teams win, but thanks to the magic of time zones, Toronto is celebrating win #16 while the Canucks are still on the ice in Dallas. East-coast bias strikes again, as Doug Gilmour’s goal and two assists bring the Cup back to Toronto.

No, I did not set up this whole dumb concept just so that the Maple Leafs would win a bunch of Stanley Cups. But for the record, if that ends up happening then I’m totally fine with it.

Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs

Fresh of the buzz of a Toronto championship, the country gears up for another race to 16. For the second straight year, four Canadian teams make the playoffs, with the Nordiques swapping in for the Habs. They get screwed by the refs in a six-game loss to the Rangers, while the Flames lose another seven-game heartbreaker to the Sharks and the Leafs are knocked out in seven by the Hawks. The Canucks come through again, though, beating the Blues in seven to emerge into the second round with 12 Canadian wins in the bank.

Then, uh, they get swept.

That’s it. Even with the ability to combine all their wins, the Canadian teams still can’t get to 16, and the Cup heads south. Huh. Let’s never speak of this again.

Winner: None

The good news: Five Canadian teams make the playoffs. The bad news: All of them lose, none lasting more than six games, so Canada stalls out at eight total wins. The worse news: The Nordiques have just moved to Colorado, and the Jets head to Arizona after this season, so we’re down to six Canadian teams.

For the second straight year, there’s no combination Cup winner. Wait, is this a drought? I was told there would be no droughts.

Winner: None

Only three Canadian teams make the playoffs, including the postseason debut of the Senators. They lose in seven to Buffalo on Derek Plante’s glove-snapping winner, while the Canadian can only bank one win for the country before losing to the Devils. But the Oilers give us a thrilling upset win over the Stars before bowing out to the Avs in five in round two. Add it all up, and Canada has… nine wins. And no Cup. Again.

Winner: None

After a summer-long national conversation about how we still can’t win a Cup on easy mode, Canada is clearly not messing around for the 1998 postseason. Only the Senators, Habs and Oilers make the playoffs, but all three teams win their first-round series. The combined national total sits at 12 wins after one round with three teams still alive, and planning for the cross-country Cup parade begins. Then the three teams all get destroyed in round two, combining for just two more wins in the process, and the drought hits four seasons.

This idea sucks, man.

Winner: None

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