Hockey excellence has moved south and way, way west.
Written by Kyle Magin
Forget what you’ve heard about the resurgence of our neighbors to the north under new, progressive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
On Sunday, as the Calgary Flames were getting wiped across the California ice on a 65 degree day by a team named after a Disney movie, Canada died. To just dump a pound (convert it to metric yourself) of salt into the wound, a song from the same “band” that dropped #selfie was playing right after the Ducks went up 4-1 in the third period. They’d go on to win 5-1.
The moment was symbolic of this point, 60-plus games into the NHL season, when California teams own the Pacific Division’s three playoff spots and nary a Canadian club would be in the postseason if regulation play ended on Tuesday (or really, anytime in the next week–Ottawa is six points and three teams behind the Pittsburgh Penguins in the standings for the East’s final wild card slot.)
Hockey’s heartbeat is closer to The 1 than the four-oh-one, it’s best practitioners doing their thing along the sunny Pacific Coast instead of near the banks of the frozen St. Lawrence.
This must be devastating, Canadians. You can probably go wait in line for 10 hours at your shabby doctor’s office above the Via Rail station for some free painkillers to help you get through.
The fact that California>Canada in hockey is both fluky and not. Sun Belt teams are running the playoffs from Coast to Coast–Dixie owns three of the eight playoff spots in the East and Nashville and Dallas join the California teams to create a sun-soaked Western Conference playoff roster. It’s not weird to see good hockey in warm places.
It should be weird, however, to see hockey played so poorly north of the border in unison. Toronto and Edmonton can be forgiven–they’re rebuilding and the future is maybe bright? Vancouver is what happens when age and bad contracts intersect–the Canucks are built for 2010. Ottawa, Calgary and Winnipeg are small-market clubs with thin margins of error, even in the salary cap era. Montreal–the Yankees of French North America–don’t really have any excuses. Goalie Carey Price has been hurt much of the year, but the Habs have all-star caliber players throughout their roster and simply fell apart after a hot start.
There you have it, Canada. Seven teams failing pretty epically at once. Instead of back-checking, maybe focus on bat-flips?