TORONTO – Many current NHL players were either not yet born or too young to remember the last time a Canadian team hoisted the Stanley Cup. The drought now stands at 26 years after all three Canadian teams were eliminated in the opening round of the 2018-19 playoffs.
The Boston Bruins defeated Toronto 5-1 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal on Tuesday night, sending the Maple Leafs into the offseason alongside the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. The other four Canadian teams did not reach the postseason this year.
The last Canadian team to win the Cup was the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.
The inauspicious streak has been threatened a few times – Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver each made it to Game 7 of a Cup Final before being eliminated, while Ottawa also made it to a Final – but this season will mark the eighth straight time two American teams will compete for the iconic trophy. In 2016, not one of Canada’s seven teams even qualified for the playoffs.
What was life like the last time a Canadian team won the Cup? Nokia was the top manufacturer of mobile phones, personal computers were running the Windows 3.1 operating system, social media didn’t exist, “Unforgiven” had just won best picture at the Academy Awards, Janet Jackson’s “The Way Love Goes” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and Tiger Woods was two months away from winning his third straight U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
For the Maple Leafs, it was more heartbreak for a franchise that has failed to advance to the second round of the playoffs since 2004 and has not won the Stanley Cup since 1967.
“It’s the same (awful) feeling as last year,” said Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner. The Bruins have beaten Toronto in Game 7 in the opening round of the playoffs three of the last seven seasons, including last year.
Calgary entered the postseason as the top team in the Western Conference. Winnipeg had reached the West finals a year ago.
In the end, the Canada curse lived on. Calgary was dumped by Colorado in five games after shutting out the Avalanche in the series opener. Winnipeg lost three times at home in falling to rising St. Louis in six games. The Maple Leafs led their series 3-2 before being ousted.
“You get so used to just being in it every day, competing and keep finding ways to get better and keep pushing forward,” Tavares said. “It’s still sinking in that we won’t be doing that (on Wednesday). That’s the hardest part.”
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