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Connor McDavid
Global News

Canada’s Stanley Cup Drought: Can the Oilers End the 30-Year Wait?

Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver have fallen, leaving Edmonton to chase the elusive Stanley Cup for Canada

First, there were four; now, there is one.

Of the Canadian NHL teams to make the 2023-24 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Edmonton Oilers are the only ones left to keep alive the dream of finally bringing the Stanley Cup home.

It’s been a long and painful wait for Canadian hockey fans.

The last time the Cup was hoisted by a Canadian team was way back in 1993, when the Montreal Canadiens dispatched the Los Angeles Kings in five games. 

That was three decades ago. That’s too long for a country of puck chasers that produces so much hockey talent and considers hockey our national game, even though it’s not – lacrosse is.

At the onset of the 2024 playoffs, there was plenty of reason for optimism, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks all on the hunt.

Connor McDavid | Brian Murphy | All-Pro Reels

Toronto lost in the first round in a heartbreaking game 7 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins. Long-suffering Maple Leaf fans are used to it; they’re still celebrating the last time their team won the Cup – in 1967.

The Winnipeg Jets never really had a chance against the Colorado Avalanche and were sent golfing after losing 6-3 in game 5.

Vancouver showed some pluck against its first-round opponent, the Nashville Predators, including the ability to come from behind, eventually taking the series 4-2.

In the second round, Vancouver met perennial rivals the Oilers. Only one team was going to advance. Right from the first puck drop, the Oilers outplayed, outshot and outworked the Canucks. 

Even Canucks coach Rick Tocchet questioned out loud at a post-game media scrum whether or not some of his players realized they were in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Edmonton players knew it. That’s why they won, sending Vancouver fans home disappointed – again. Disappointment is part of being a Canucks supporter. The team has sniffed the Cup three times in NHL playoff finals but has never drank from Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Even though the series went seven games, Edmonton dominated the Canucks. They skated like a team hungry for the Cup, and that matters.

The Oilers have success in their DNA. As a reminder, a statue of Wayne Gretzky greets spectators when they arrive at Rogers Arena. The Great One led the Oilers to four thrilling Stanley Cups in the 1980s. 

They won another one in 1990, two years after Gretzky was traded away in one of the most hated deals in NHL history. The Gretzky era team was one of the most exciting to watch and perhaps ever to play the game.

Yup, 1990 is a long time ago, and the Oilers are now in a tough semi-final battle with the Dallas Stars.

But today’s Oilers are equally exciting as the Gretzky dynasty of years past.

They have an explosive offence led by lightning-quick Connor McDavid, sniper Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, among others. Their powerplay is punishing, 2nd only to the Tampa Bay Lightning in regular-season goal production.

Blue liners Darnell Nurse, Vincent Desharnais and Mattias Ekholm can dole out the hits, and starting keeper Stuart Skinner has tightened up after a few soft games earlier in the playoffs.

Best of all, they’re playing like playoff contenders, like it’s their one and only shot. That’s how you have to play.

The Oilers face off against the Dallas Stars tonight in game 4 of the Western Conference Finals with the Stars ahead 2 games to 1 over the Oilers.

Our hopes are on the underdogs!

Go Oilers! Canada’s hopes now lie with you.                            

Oh the glory days with "The Great One" | Pinterest
Oh, the glory days with “The Great One” | Pinterest

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