When you live in a country that bases a lot of its national identity on hockey, but yet hasn’t seen a club from that country win the championship from hockey’s top professional league in over two decades, you start seeing people get desperate to back a winner.
In 2004, Calgary made the Cup Final and because it had been over 20 years since a Canadian team even made the championship round, you had Canadian fans regardless of team loyalty root for the Flames because “damnit, a Canadian team had a chance to win one finally!” Toronto Maple Leafs fans started wearing red. Oilers fans in Edmonton driving around with Flames flags.
Thus, the concept of “Canada’s Team” was born.
Since then, other teams have had their chance to carry the hopes and dreams of a nation to “bring Stanley home”. Edmonton in 2006. Ottawa in 2007. Each time a large segment of fans living in Canada throw their support behind Canadian teams, but by the time 2011 came around and the Vancouver Canucks made the Cup final – perhaps because the Canucks were not an overly likeable team then, or perhaps because previous Canadian team failures to actually capture the Cup, or because every Canadian team was at least having some sort of chance in the playoffs – the “Canada’s Team movement” died out a little.
Two seasons ago, there were no Canadian teams to qualify for the playoffs, but last season five of the seven Canadian teams made the playoffs so there wasn’t a consensus pick to represent all of Canada. Almost every fan base had a shot at the Cup.
This season, there are only going to be two Canadian teams that make the playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs, and our Winnipeg Jets.
And once again it seems like the rest of Canada is trying to figure out who they should get behind and root for. Do they support the team like the Leafs who have the lion’s share of national coverage and are from “the center of the universe” or do they rally around the Jets and a city that is almost always the butt of any joke anyone outside of Manitoba makes? I gotta imagine it’s a bit of a tough call.
But this actually isn’t about them. It’s about Jets fans. Ya know, the ones who’ve been with this team on a regular full time basis and not just recently heard about this Nik Ehlers kid.
There has been a segment of Jets fans that have complained about their team never really being in the spotlight, or getting any kind of attention. That’s about to change in a hurry in about two weeks time when the Jets are one of two Canadian teams left playing hockey. (One could argue it’s already changing now as media outlets like TSN and Sportsnet are running more features on the Jets and their upcoming playoff run.)
How do you all feel going into the playoffs with a much more loaded bandwagon? Do you think less of fans who have suddenly found an appreciation for Adam Lowry or Mathieu Perreault? Do you welcome fans who two months ago cursed your team as they hammered the Canucks, Flames and Oilers, but are suddenly rooting for Patrik Laine to score all the goals?
What Would You Do JetsNation? Are you ready to embrace the label of the Jets as “Canada’s Team” or would you rather fans of other teams just stay off the bandwagon?
Sound off in the comments below or let us know what you think on our Twitter feed!