Who Should You Root For?

With the abundance of hockey fans spread across North America’s northern nation, the fact that there are no Canadian cities competing in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final leaves some perplexed when it comes to shifting their playoff support — even if only temporarily. Fortunately, there’s a fairly easy way to figure it out.

RELATED: NHL Playoffs and the Myth of ‘Canada’s Team’

Unlike the nonsensical narrative that Canadians should feel forced to back the country’s last remaining franchise at this point in any postseason, there is a far more logical way to choose a new team to cheer for. And the location of their home rink has nothing to do with it.

Besides, the town a team plays in doesn’t determine how Canadian they actually are. If the goal is to see the Stanley Cup spend as much time in Canada as possible this offseason, it’s every individual who hoists it that will determine that very schedule.

The players actually get the Cup for a day. Unlike other sports, the players themselves get to take the Cup to their hometown and enjoy a day with it.

While current fans of both the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning have picked their side regardless of national representation, this is more so to assist the undecided.

Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning Gabriel Landeskog Colorado Avalanche
2022 Stanley Cup Final (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Breaking down the birthplaces throughout each locker room, focusing on active players who have participated in at least one playoff game to date this year for each organization, it becomes pretty clear who the rest of Canada should be cheering for.

Tampa Bay Enjoys International Talent

Although having a Canadian captain certainly adds to Tampa Bay’s cumulative representation, that isn’t the primary qualifier when it comes to recognizing an organization’s northern touch. The fact that Steven Stamkos leads the Lightning doesn’t mean that those who follow all grew up in similar surroundings to his in Markham, Ontario.

Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning 2021 Stanley Cup
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

In fact, of the 16 teams that entered this year’s tournament, Tampa would have been far from among those with the most Canadians.

Tampa’s Canadian Talent

  1. Anthony Cirelli
  2. Brandon Hagel
  3. Alex Killorn
  4. Riley Nash
  5. Nicholas Paul
  6. Corey Perry
  7. Brayden Point
  8. Steven Stamkos

All in all, not a bad subsection of star power, but is it enough to outshine the Canadians housed in Colorado?

Colorado Might as Well Be in Canada

Let’s call it a coincidence that Colorado shares many of the same attributes as western Canada, let alone that Denver is more proximal to the northern border than Tampa Bay. What’s not a fluke, though, is the type of talent that the Avalanche has infused into their lineup.

Colorado Avalanche Clarence S. Campbell Bowl
2021-22 Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Of which, more than half of their active postseason roster learned how to play the game in the Great White North.

Canadians in Colorado

  1. Nicolas Aube-Kubel
  2. Bowen Byram
  3. Andrew Cogliano
  4. Samuel Girard
  5. Darren Helm
  6. Nazem Kadri
  7. Darcy Kuemper
  8. Nathan MacKinnon
  9. Cale Makar
  10. Alex Newhook
  11. Logan O’Connor
  12. Devon Toews

Realistically, Colorado won this comparison well before this Final was ever set, regardless of who they would ultimately match up against.

That said, beyond seeing the face of their franchise joyride to Tim Hortons on an ice resurfacer, the Avalanche are truly stacked with Canadian names. Some of the game’s best, at every position.

Canada’s Team

There are no rules that suggest a fan should feel any obligation to hop onto another bandwagon simply because their favourite team’s ride has come to an end for that campaign. It’s more than permissible to just observe, without a vested interest the rest of the way.

However, there are onlookers that feel a sense of responsibility to re-direct their energy accordingly and that’s absolutely acceptable.

While this was indeed an objective exercise in assessing which lineup has been constructed in the most Canadian of ways, the reality is that national pride is reserved for international competition. Simply stated, Team Canada is Canada’s team.

RELATED: THW’s 2021-22 Predictions: Standings, Stanley Cup & NHL Awards

For now, though, Canadian fans who want to see the Stanley Cup celebrated from coast to coast, for the longest possible duration this offseason, should be backing the Avalanche.



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