Which NHL playoff team should Canadian fans adopt?

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As you might have heard, no Canadian teams qualified for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1970, or Bobby Clarke’s rookie season. 

This has led to widespread apathy about playoff hockey north of the border, despite Gary Bettman’s claim that Canadians fans would watch the All-American playoffs because there are, like, lots of Canadian players.

But what if Canadian fans just aren’t sure to which of the remaining four NHL playoff teams they should throw their support?

Your friends at Puck Daddy have decided to release this handy guide for Canadian hockey fans in an attempt to identify which bandwagon should make room for Gord, Gord and also Gordette.

And here … we … go.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Total Canadian Players: 11

Total Canadian Heroes Who Brought Olympic Hockey Gold Back To Its Rightful Owners: 3

Cup Drought: 2009, a season in which the Penguins fired their coach during the regular season and beat the Washington Capitals in the conference semifinals. Sound familiar, those thirsty to attend a Cup parade?

Was This Team Ever Close To Relocating To Canada? Not quite, but had Jim Balsillie purchased the team we’re probably watching the Hamilton Penguins by now.

Has Bieber Ever Worn Their Jersey? No, but this is even worse:

Did Gretzky Play For Them? Yes, but only in the sense that the word “Gretzky” has become synonymous with “Greatest Hockey Player Who Ever Lived” and Mario played in Pittsburgh.

Why Canadians Should Root For Them? The presence of Sidney Crosby on an NHL team mandates Canadian support like the presence of a female presidential nominee mandates women to vote for her. Like, in theory. 

Also, the Penguins were built a few times over the years through tanking, which is now basically an annual tradition for Canadian teams. And seeing Phil Kessel raise the Cup would be one of the greatest moments in Leafs history.

Why Canadians Should Tell Them To Take Off, Eh? Because any team that Gary Bettman’s NHL coddles like a newborn lamb must be slaughtered.

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San Jose Sharks

Total Canadian Players: 13

Total Canadian Heroes Who Brought Olympic Hockey Gold Back To Its Rightful Owners: 3

Cup Drought: They haven’t actually won a Cup since being founded in 1991, but have helped an impressive number of Canadians win their own Cups through the years: Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter …

Was This Team Ever Close To Relocating To Canada? No, but based on how they've handled player contracts, we’ll just assume it’s because the entire Sharks franchise was given a no-movement clause.

Has Bieber Ever Worn Their Jersey? No. But Harry Styles did:

1D
1D

Did Gretzky Play For Them? No, but it’s common knowledge that he birthed them.

Why Canadians Should Root For Them? Because Brent Burns’s face looks like the living embodiment of the Yukon. Because Patrick Marleau winning the championship means the Stanley Cup could arrive in Aneroid, Saskatchewan (population: 46). Because it would be so nice to celebrate Joe Thornton’s Hall of Fame induction without having incessant “BUT HE DIDN’T WIN TEH STANLEY CUPZ!!!” nonsense.  

Why Canadians Should Tell Them To Take Off, Eh? Because the idea that all three California NHL teams will have won the Stanley Cup since the last Canadian Cup win may in fact one day lead to a Terminator being sent back in time to deal with the Pocklington family.

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St. Louis Blues

Total Canadian Players: 18

Total Canadian Heroes Who Brought Olympic Hockey Gold Back To Its Rightful Owners: 2

Cup Drought: They haven’t actually won a Cup since being founded in 1967. Wait, 1967? Now that's Canadian …

Was This Team Ever Close To Relocating To Canada? Yes. WHA and Edmonton Oilers founder Bill Hunter made plans to move them to Saskatoon in 1983, but the NHL vetoed the deal. There was another odd moment of relocation panic – sorry, “blessing” – when Forbes made a reference to the Blues possibly moving to Canada in 2011.

Has Bieber Ever Worn Their Jersey? As far as we can tell, he hasn’t. Plus, he actually disrespected the Blackhawks’ logo, so bonus points there.

Did Gretzky Play For Them? He certainly did, wearing The Note for 18 games and 13 playoff games in 1995-96. Please revisit this epic moment in Blues history in the essay titled “THE OTHER GRETZKY TRADE: THAT DEAL THAT WORKED FOR NEITHER TEAM.”

Why Canadians Should Root For Them? Because they’re very Canadian, from the number of Canadian players to the Canadian management to the fact they come from a city most famous for its beer and lack of NFL teams. And they’re also openly courting Canadian fans, which is all sorts of wonderful:

Why Canadians Should Tell Them To Take Off, Eh? Their best offensive player is Russian. RUSSIAN!

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Total Canadian Players: 8

Total Canadian Heroes Who Brought Olympic Hockey Gold Back To Its Rightful Owners: “NONE. NONE PLAYERS. THANKS AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF TALENTED PLAYERS IN 2010 AND A STUPID 2014 INJURY.” – S. Stamkos

Cup Drought: The Lightning last won the Stanley Cup in 2004. Against a Canadian team. Those bastards. 

Was This Team Ever Close To Relocating To Canada? No, but we’ll just assume that with them playing in the American south someone’s suggested it.

Has Bieber Ever Worn Their Jersey? Bieber has worn a jersey with the Lightning on it:

And the Lightning have worn a shirt with Bieber’s face on it:

Bolts
Bolts

Did Gretzky Play For Them? Yes.

Why Canadians Should Root For Them? Jon Cooper has the Lightning playing a high-energy, aggressive style that accentuates both offense and defense. Victor Hedman, with any justice, will be elevated to the pantheon of generational defensemen. The Triplets, when on their game, are hockey poetry. Were the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup, this team would be a proper and justified representation of how we want an NHL team to play.

Why Canadians Should Tell Them To Take Off, Eh? Can you imagine how [expletive] insufferable Leafs fans are going to be when the team signs Steven Stamkos, Stanley Cup champion?

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The Verdict

Continue to cheer for the Raptors and studying mock drafts. 

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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