The Current

Canadian hockey shutout from NHL playoffs spurs fans to defend national sport

It's been a long time since a Canadian hockey team celebrated a Stanley Cup win. This year Canadian teams are shut out of the NHL playoffs and the lure of other games beckons. What's all this doing to the hearts of fans and hockey business?
Team captain Serge Savard (holding trophy) leads the Montreal Canadiens after their 1977 Stanley Cup win in Boston, May 14, 1977. (The Canadian Press)

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Hockey has been Canada's official winter sport, and paramount pastime, for decades. 

But just as the Stanley Cup is indeed stateside now, it seems destined to stay there for at least another year. In fact, barring an act of the hockey gods, the current NHL season will be the first since 1970 without a single Canadian team in the playoffs — that's 46 years.

[Hockey] is right up there with the RCMP and the beaver. It registers as very strong as a national symbol.- Jack Jedwab on hockey as a Canadian identity

Although technically the Ottawa Senators still have a chance, many call it a snowball's chance.

Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky (2nd L), Mark Messier (L) and Kevin Lowe (2nd R) take the Stanley Cup from NHL President John Ziegler (R) after they defeated the Boston Bruins to win the NHL hockey championship in Edmonton, May 26, 1988. (Gary Hershorn/Reuters)

So what does all this mean for the Canadian psyche and hockey's place in it? Some say there's a shift  happening where other sports are beckoning. 

The Current's  panelists make their case for how critical hockey is to our national identity and if the pull to other sports might redefine what's known as Canada's game.

Guests in this segment:

What does the end of Stanley Cup dreams for Canadian teams this year mean to you?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese, Catherine Kalbfleisch and Vanessa Greco.