First it was the Vancouver Canucks
, then the Calgary Flames
. The Edmonton Oilers
and Ottawa Senators
followed suit, but all four teams came up short.
Despite a few valiant efforts, no Canadian squad has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens
, led by cagey MVP Patrick Roy
, beat the Los Angeles Kings
With the Canadiens and Flames both bounced from the postseason in the opening round this year, the weight of a nation hungry for a championship now rests solely on the shoulders of the Canucks.
For the past 14 years, the Cup has spent the summer in the lower half of North America, and Vancouver is hoping to change that.
If results like the Canucks' 5-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks
in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal keep rolling in, this could be the year that Canada’s team wins its first championship and brings the Cup home.
"It’s pretty special having everyone behind us; obviously what makes Canada such a great country is that everyone loves hockey," said Canucks defenseman Shane O’Brien, who proudly rallied around the Flames in 2003-04 when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning
in the championship series.
"The people in Montreal and Toronto I’m sure won’t be rushing out to buy Vancouver Canucks
jerseys, but you know in the back of their minds they’re pulling for a Canadian team to win the Cup just to get it back home," O'Brien said.
Just because the Canucks are under Canada’s microscope, don’t expect anything to change with the team on a mission to win its first Cup.
"I don’t think we’re going to worry too much about that, I think the pressure is going to come from inside the dressing room to keep performing and keep doing the good things that we’ve been doing the last few months, we have to keep building on that," Mats Sundin
Added Roberto Luongo
, "we’ll have the whole country behind us, hopefully, but for us I think we want to do it for ourselves and our fans here in Vancouver."