Once the North Division champs were decided, Canada, well, some of it, decided to back a team to bring the Cup back to Our Home and Native Land
National Monuments across the country started getting lit up Bleu, Blanc et Rouge in solidarity with the last remaining Canadian based franchise in the playoffs.
It began with the lighting up of the CN Tower in Toronto.
The Canadiens started the playoffs with a series win in the city of Toronto for the second straight season, a feat the Toronto Maple Leafs haven`t accomplished in almost 18 years. What makes that more painful for the Toronto fans in the city is that the Canadiens completed that feat in dramatic fashion, coming back from a three games to one deficit to knock out the heavily favored Maple Leafs in seven games.
Next up were the Winnipeg Jets. This was another series that the Canadiens were given no chance of winning. What followed however was an unexpected sweep of the heavily favored Winnipeg Jets. This series win crowned the Canadiens as the Kings of the North.
What should be made clear is that the CN Tower is not owned by the city of Toronto, but is federally owned. Regardless of this distinction, this action caused some expected backlash from some very irate locals who were still heartbroken by their home town team`s Stanley Cup dreams being crushed by their historic rivals. Like most passionate hockey fans, they aren`t likely to jump onto any rival`s bandwagon. Especially after watching their heroes lose a series in dramatic fashion.
Toronto City Hall
Adding insult to injury, Toronto city Hall followed suit by meeting the requirements of a bet between Mayors by flying the Canadiens colours
It took Mayor Tory until after the Canadiens defeated the Jets in the second round to complete the bet with Montreal`s mayor, which may have compounded the anger Toronto fans felt a day after the CN Tower was lit up in Habs colours.
Despite that, there is a large contingient of Canadiens fans in the city of Toronto who appreciated the gestures and will no doubt spend the summer reminding their friends and neighbors that this has happened.
Just as the Canadiens were about to start their Stanley Cup Semi Finals series against the top ranked Vegas Golden Knights another national monument went full Bleu, Blanc et Rouge, this time it was Niagara Falls.
While this predictably generated more anger on amongst the Toronto fan base, it did bring some other fanbases into the fun of following a Canadian team deep into the playoffs. Ottawa Senators fans joined in, even if it was only to relish the loss of their rival Maple Leafs.
The Canadian Armed Forces weren`t going to be left out. In the Royal Canadian Navy, there is a class of warship called the Halifax Class Frigate, and as is the tradition in Canada, this class of ship are all named after Canadian cities. Each ship keeps close ties with their namesake cities with visits by the crew and even the occasional visit by dignitaries from the city.
The City and the ship exchange gifts and when something occurs in the city, the ship helps. In 2017 the HMCS Montreal assisted in the containment and recovery efforts of the flooding in Montreal. This year, with the Canadiens fighting their way to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Commanding Officer and some Canadiens fans who belong to the crew sent their support for the hometown Habs.
Regardless of what happened in the Stanley Cup Final, the Montreal Canadiens being the first Canadian-based franchise to play in the Final since 2011 is something all hockey fans in Canada should enjoy. But, they should also wonder why it is, in the Salary Cap Era, that Canadian teams are rarely able to make it this deep in the playoffs. What is missing? One thing that isn’t missing in this playoff run, Canadiens fans enjoying their first Final appearance in 28 years.