SPORTS – Why is Canada’s NHL Teams in a Stanley Cup Drought?

Lord Stanley CupWhy is Canada’s NHL Teams in a Stanley Cup Drought?In 1993, Sleepless in Seattle hit cinemas, the first X-Files episode hit airwaves, The Cranberries were a hot music act taking the world by storm… oh, and the Montreal Canadiens won the NHL’s Stanley Cup.The 1993 NHL season was the last time a Canadian ice hockey team won the biggest prize in the sport, and since then, Canada has experienced a nearly 24 year drought in winning a Stanley Cup.A Slow DeclineIn the 10 years prior to the Canadiens’ triumph, seven Canadian teams won the Stanley Cup. Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Montreal all lifted the cup during the 1980s and early 1990s.But as ice hockey gained popularity in the United States, some of the NHL’s best players moved south of the Canadian border. The 1980s were the “golden age” for Canada’s hockey teams.One sports economics website believes Canada’s teams were unable to compete in the 1990s are early 2000s due to the weak financial strength of the Canadian dollar. At the same time, hockey was growing exponentially in the US and those teams were able to spend more on the best talent.Gretzky EffectWayne Gretzky and Edmonton won the Stanley Cup in 1988. That year was the last truly great year of Canada’s NHL run. It was truly all downhill from there.Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 1988 for $15US million and a handful of players. That trade ushered in a change of the guard despite Calgary and Edmonton winning the cup in the final two season’s of the 1980s. But the handwriting was on the wall, hockey was slowly increasing in popularity in the 50 states.Does Hockey’s Popularity Hurt It?Hockey is the national sport of Canada, and due to its popularity, it is in demand. With Canadian fans hungry to watch their local or regional teams, attendances are usually excellent for the clubs; and much better than some of the teams who play in newer hockey markets like Carolina or Arizona.Five of the NHL’s seven Canadian sides were in the league’s top 15 for attendance in 2016-17. All seven clubs averaged more than 15,700 fans a game. But with attendances so high in Canada, and the average ticket price being extortionate, putting a winning team on the ice each season isn’t necessarily a priority.In 2013, six of Canada’s seven teams were in the NHL’s top seven for highest ticket prices. Only Ottawa Senators were outside the top seven, falling 15th out of 30 teams.Canada vs. USAIt appears winning doesn’t necessarily affect attendance on Canada’s NHL teams like it does in the US. Therefore, putting winning teams out on the ice each season isn’t as important to bring out fans.The US does have more sporting options for sports supporters. The New York Rangers, for example, play in a city where a sports fan can see NBA, Major League Baseball, high-level college sports or even Major League Soccer most nights of the week.Compared to Winnipeg, the Jets have far fewer entertainment and sporting options to compete with. Therefore, having a slightly hire ticket price than New York, St. Louis or Carolina makes sense. The demand is there, so teams are taking advantage of it.Sometimes It’s Just Bad LuckOf course, when it comes to the NHL Playoffs, it sometimes comes down to bad luck. The 2004 Stanley Cup Finals saw Calgary lose four games to three to Tampa Bay Lightning – a team from a non-traditional hockey city and state. Anaheim crushed Ottawa in 2004, and a year earlier, Carolina topped Edmonton in seven. Finally, in 2011 Vancouver Canucks lost in seven games to Boston.Fatigue, injury and other reasons have prevented Canada’s NHL teams from lifting the Stanley Cup since 1993. Will the drought end soon? You never know.

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Drew Farmer is a sports journalist, content writer and author. Currently living in Manchester, England, Drew was born and raised in the United States as a lover of all things sports. Over the years, Drew has written for a variety of sports and travel websites, usually focusing on soccer-related stories. Drew has written for Bleacher Report, Forza Italian Football, Points Reckoning and Travel Thru History to name just a few. Drew also appears every week during the Major League Soccer season on Radio Yorkshire to talk about the weekend's action. Drew's debut book Soccer Travels, combines two of his favorite things: soccer and travel. Drew lives in England with his wife and son as he maps out new ideas for books and articles. - Twitter:


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