Canadians can get touchy when one NHL franchise is anointed as "Canada's team," as incoming Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock found out on Thursday.
"Believe it or not, I believe this is Canada's team, and we need to put Canada's team back on the map," Babcock told a buzzing media contingent at Air Canada Centre on Thursday while accepting the job as the 30th head coach in Maple Leafs history.
It was one seemingly innocuous comment at the beginning of a lengthy news conference, but it certainly touched a nerve.
The Maple Leafs added to the outrage when they posted a Vine video of Babcock uttering the offending phrase on their Twitter account.
Social media justice was swift. "Canada's Team" was the second-highest trending topic in the country on Twitter, with several posters mocking the suggestion that the Maple Leafs represented hockey fans nationwide.
"'Canada's Team' Jesus. This is why Canada hates Toronto," read one Twitter post.
Tweeters indicated that perhaps Babcock had Canada's colours wrong or was talking about the wrong sport.
@sadsackjetsfan I'm pretty sure Canada's team just won gold but apparently he thinks our flag is blue and white.— @winnipegmac
"Canada's team"....maybe Canada's golf team ��— @patmanning14
Some, like Calgary Stampeders' punter Rob Maver, felt the Montreal Canadiens, with their proud history, are Canada's team.
Others believed the term "Canada's team" should be reserved for international tournaments.
"If you mention 'Canada's team' and you're not referring to an international tournament I want to fire you directly into the sun," was the pointed response from one Twitter user.
Of course, few are more qualified on speaking on Canada's international experience than Babcock. He has coached Canada to two Olympic gold medals, a world championship title and a world junior championship crown.
Other posters simply seized the opportunity to take a shot at the Leafs for their disastrous on-ice product. The Leafs have missed the playoffs in nine of the last 10 seasons and seeming quit trying last season while slumping to a 30-44-8 record, second-worst in the Eastern Conference.
Trading away draft picks. Gave up 3 goals in Game 7 in Boston. 1 playoff appearance in 10yrs. No ring in 40+ yrs. "Canada's Team". Riiight.— @caycelubrun
At least one Twitter poster had kinder words for Babcock.
"Good luck coach Mike Babcock And (at)MapleLeafs!!! Toronto deserve to get back to the top!," posted former NHL superstar Teemu Selanne.
However, another summed up her feelings with two words.