Leaving Trump behind might be a smart move, but after you arrive in Canada, you’ll leave behind your family (also maybe a smart move), your friends and your hockey team, too. And while family and friends might not be replaced, sports teams can be.
Canada only has one team each in the NBA and Major League Baseball, so Drake and Justin Bieber gladly will welcome you on the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays bandwagons. There isn’t an NFL team in the country, so you can take your pick of Canadian Football League franchises — I mean, you don’t want to root for the Buffalo Bills, right?
That brings us to hockey, which is king in Canada. Seven NHL teams — not to mention the seemingly hundreds of junior clubs — call the country home, and from September through June (wait, who are we kidding? April), you can catch a hockey game anywhere at any time.
NHL Center Ice (known as NHL Centre Ice in Canada) is available, so you conceivably could stick with your U.S.-based franchise and either watch the games on TV and see the team play live when it visits one of the country’s seven teams. But you switched allegiances to Canada, so you might as well go all the way and switch hockey allegiances, too.
With that in mind, we ranked your options in terms of rootability, from worst to best:
8. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Sure, the Leafs have a proven coach in Mike Babcock and a young star in Auston Matthews, but they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967, making them the NHL’s equivalent of the New York Jets. Leafs fans have the arrogance to match, too, although that enthusiasm usually is tamped down by February, when it’s clear another non-successful season is the cards. Don’t make yourself miserable in your new home, and look elsewhere for a new hockey team.
7. MONTREAL CANADIENS
If the Leafs are the NHL’s Jets, then the Canadiens are the New York Yankees. Habs fans love to remind everyone that their team owns 24 Stanley Cup championships, even if some of the people who just voted for Trump were in kindergarten when that last happened (1993). Yes, the jerseys and logo are classic, and the tradition and lore are undeniable, but you don’t want to be a front-runner and join Canada’s version of the Evil Empire, do you?
6. THE LOCAL MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY TEAM
Forget the NHL and catch up-and-coming stars in one of three major junior hockey leagues located throughout the country. Plus, some of these teams — the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Brandon Wheat Kings and pretty much every QMJHL franchise, for examples — have sweet nicknames. There’s something to be said for getting on the ground floor, too.
5. VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Fans in New England never could bring themselves to wear the orca-adorned jersey, but that shouldn’t stop you if you want a steady franchise that always seems to be in the mix. The Canucks have made the playoffs in seven of the previous 10 seasons, and while they’ve never won a Stanley Cup, they’ve reached the Finals three times. Plus, the Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel) rank among the league’s most exciting duos — not bad if you want to watch top-caliber hockey each night.
4. OTTAWA SENATORS
There’s nothing overly exciting about the Senators, but like the Canucks, they’ll likely give you steady performances. They’ve made one Stanley Cup Final and 15 playoff appearances since they started play in 1992, and they’re located in a hockey-mad area in the nation’s capital, albeit with competition from the nearby Canadiens and (somewhat) the Leafs. The current roster has a few stars — defenseman Erik Karlsson and winger Bobby Ryan, for example — and the Atlantic Division seems wide open behind the first-place Habs, so the Senators could be a safe bet, if not a sexy one.
3. CALGARY FLAMES
When fans in this Alberta city aren’t gearing up for the world-famous rodeo, they’re rockin’ red jerseys and rooting for their Flames. And while this passionate bunch hasn’t been rewarded with much success in recent seasons (just four playoff berths in the previous 11 seasons), the Flames did win the Stanley Cup in 1989, with wonderfully mustachioed Lanny McDonald leading the way in his final NHL season. You could do worse than lending your voice to the Sea of Red, hoping for a resurgence of the good ol’ days.
2. EDMONTON OILERS
This franchise dominated the NHL in the 1980s, winning four Stanley Cups behind Wayne Gretzky and one more after he was shockingly traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. The Oilers haven’t returned to the playoffs since losing the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, but this season’s team is loaded with young offensive talent (Conor McDavid, Jordan Eberle, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), even after trading away Taylor Hall, and currently leads the rugged Pacific Division. Added bonus: Those orange-and-blue home jerseys are incredible.
1. WINNIPEG JETS
Winnipeg went without the Jets, who moved to Phoenix in 1996 and became the Coyotes, for 15 years, but now they’re back, and the city isn’t letting them go again. When the Jets made the playoffs two seasons ago, it seemed not only all of Manitoba but all of Canada was rooting for them. Even a sweep by the more-powerful Anaheim Ducks didn’t dampen spirits, with Canadian media naming Jets fans among the three stars of the night after Game 4. So grab a Jacob Trouba jersey, buy a ticket at MTS Centre (if you can — they sell out fast) and catch the fever.
Or you could just stay in the U.S. and with your current hockey team.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP