Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada's NHL teams don't make the grade

  • Print

Canadian hockey fans should be getting more for their buck than the abysmal performance of our country's seven NHL teams.

Despite paying more for tickets and generating a disproportionate amount of league revenues, the product on the ice does not equate.

Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs is about to open with not a Canadian team to be found. Not since 1993 has a Canadian club won the league title and there's little reason to believe this is about to change any time soon.

The Vancouver Canucks are Canada's best team and the Ottawa Senators made a surprising run to get in the playoffs this spring. But now Canada's only two hopes are already done. The rest? Collectively awful.

The Leafs, Canadiens, Jets, Flames and Oilers are all non-playoff organizations in a league where over half the teams qualify.

Only the Canucks will be pre-season favourites to qualify when next season begins. The Senators will be a 50-50 proposition. After that the pickings get thin.

The Jets have only been back in Winnipeg for one season and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff inherited a roster that comes up short on a number of fronts.

The Jets aren't a good team, but they haven't had decades to get it wrong. We'll excuse them for the time being, and for the sake of Jets fans, here's hoping management doesn't take a page out of the handbook of losing most Canadian teams have been following.

If there's anything the Winnipeg organization can learn from their Canadian lodge brothers, it's that the quick fix is a risky gambit. Cheveldayoff has said he will draft and develop a team in hopes of creating a consistently competitive franchise. He'll need to be stubborn to stick to his plan because Winnipeg hockey fans are not unlike those all across Canada. They want a winner and they want it now.


The Leafs have the worst case of this malaise as the richest team in hockey is, of course, one of the worst, having missed the post-season for seven straight years and gone since 1967 without a title. They set the standard for underachieving, but in recent years have been joined by the Canadiens, Flames and Oilers in a class of once-reputable organizations that now seem to be aimless.

While it was once easy to give Canadian franchises a pass because many of them were small-market clubs unable to compete on a level financial plane with larger U.S. cities, that argument is no longer valid.

Canadian fans pay more for tickets in a salary-cap NHL. Money is not an issue for Canada's teams. The top six average ticket prices in the NHL are all claimed by Canadian teams. Only Ottawa, which logs in at 15th in the league, isn't in the top 10.

The Leafs charge the most and, one can argue, give back the least. The Jets check in with the second-highest average ticket price and hopefully will use their off-ice success to generate a winning operation. Time will tell.

Hockey is still Canada's game and we still produce more of the best players in the world than any other country. But our NHL franchises don't make the grade right now.

Canada's fans deserve better.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 27, 2012 C1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Geese fly in the morning light over Selkirk Ave Wednesday morning- Day 22– June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.

View More Gallery Photos

About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


What Western Conference teams will emerge from the first round of the NHL playoffs?

View Results

Ads by Google