The NHL Playoffs’ New Anthem May Be “No Canada

In 1969 a man named Gary Starkweather invented the laser printer. 1969 was the year the first Porsche 914s were ever produced. A band known as The Beatles released a little album called “Yellow Submarine” that same year as well. 1969 was also the last time the NHL playoffs happened without a Canadian team, something that is beginning to look more and more likely as the 2015-16 season unfolds.

Going into the All-Star break not one of the NHL’s seven Canadian teams held a play-off berth. In the Eastern Conference the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators were each at 52 points, putting them 3 away from playoff contention. The Toronto Maple Leafs lie 12 back with 43 points and a much harder task ahead of them if they plan to make a playoff spot.

In the Western Conference Winnipeg holds last place in the Central while Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton sit at the bottom three positions. The Canucks hold the top position for any Canadian team, sitting only five points out of contention but if the playoffs happened today it would be the first time in 36 years we’d have an All-American line-up.

Couple those sobering statistics with the fact that Canada hasn’t been home to the Stanley Cup for 21 years and there’s obviously cause for concern for hockey fans in the Great White North.

Blame is placed in several places. The falling Canadian dollar has put a tremendous amount of economic pressure on the league, the franchises, and the players. TV rights deals that were made when the “loonie” was near or on par with US dollar are now worth significantly less, which reduces the overall HRR or Hockey Related Revenues. If the HRR drops the players feel it in their salaries. All of which combines to mean tougher choices moving forward and tightening the belt becomes the norm. Not a great place to be with playoff hopes in mind.

Some attribute this year’s playoff drought to bad timing. With teams like the Oilers and the Maple Leafs undergoing significant changes in their organizations it’s no surprise they’ll need a few seasons to rebuild. Vancouver is trying to move quickly under second year GM, Jim Benning, and the Flames are in the midst of rebuilding their roster as well. It’s just a bad luck season for the Canadians right? Still others place the blame squarely on management making poor financial decisions and even poorer roster choices.

Whatever the reason the fact remains that this season represents a low point for Canada’s national pastime. All is not lost, however. There are still roughly 30 games left to be played and as fans everywhere know, a lot can happen in 30 games. Heck, maybe by the end of the season I’ll be driving a new Porsche 914 listening to Yellow Submarine.