The Montreal Canadiens pose with the Stanley Cup following their 1993 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, the last time a Canadian-based NHL team won the Cup. Five Canadian teams are still in contention this year, but the competition has barely begun.

The Montreal Canadiens pose with the Stanley Cup following their 1993 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, the last time a Canadian-based NHL team won the Cup. Five Canadian teams are still in contention this year, but the competition has barely begun.
Photo Credit: Canadian Press / Frank Gunn

It’s Stanley Cup playoff season, everybody take a deep breath

Let the games begin, let the drama unfold, let the toothpicks be inserted into the bleary eyes of Canadians across the country, all of them up way to late with their eyes glued to their television sets.

Penguins captain and Canadian Olympic hero Sidney Crosby hoists the Stanley Cup after the Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks in a deciding Game 6 by a score of 3-1 last spring. Not a single Canadian team made made the playoffs last season.
Penguins captain and Canadian Olympic hero Sidney Crosby hoists the Stanley Cup after the Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks in a deciding Game 6 by a score of 3-1 last spring. Not a single Canadian team made made the playoffs last season. © The Associated Press/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The Stanley Cup playoffs are underway.

It’s a rite of spring.

Some years, more than others.

Take last year.

Not one of the seven NHL Canadian-based teams made it past the regular season.

This year, it’s five: Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary. (Missing are Winnipeg and Vancouver.)

With the exception of Ottawa, all the Canadian playoff teams have storied pasts.

But not recently.

In a cruel turn of fate–at least for Canadians–no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens did it in 1993, but hope–especially in sports–springs eternal.

Edmonton fans are hoping for a return to the team's glory days in the 1980s--like this one, May 16, 1988, when Wayne Gretzky (2nd L), Mark Messier (L) and Kevin Lowe (2nd R) took the Stanley Cup from NHL President John Ziegler (R) after they defeated the Boston Bruins to win the NHL hockey championship.
Edmonton fans are hoping for a return to the team’s glory days in the 1980s–like this one, May 16, 1988, when Wayne Gretzky (2nd L), Mark Messier (L) and Kevin Lowe (2nd R) took the Stanley Cup from NHL President John Ziegler (R) after they defeated the Boston Bruins to win the NHL hockey championship. © Reuters/Gary Hershorn

Still, most of the Canadian teams are long shots, but that’s another thing about sports. You really do never know.

One person who tends to know more than most is Bruce Dowbiggin, the accomplished Calgary-based author and broadcaster and publisher of the terrific website www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com, home of some brainy ideas about sports and other things.

(Check out Dowbiggin’s remedy to fight the scourge of professional teams tanking games to gain a first draft choice toward the end of today’s interview, or–for more elaboration–on his website.)

For some perspective on this year’s playoffs, I spoke by phone with  Dowbiggin on Monday at his Calgary home.

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