Every year around this time, the Canadian media starts to push the idea of "Canada's Team." The theory is that Canadians should rally around the remaining Canadian team in the playoffs in hopes of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Canada. This year, that team is the Ottawa Senators.
In Canada, the bandwagon experience takes on a strange distortion. Instead of picking a team because of a certain player, coach or back-story, Canadians on social media and throughout the mainstream media are encouraged to jump on the trolley and cheer for the only Canadian team left. All of a sudden, Canadian hockey fans are expected to support the 2011 Canucks, 2010 Canadiens, 2007 Senators and so forth. It's a curious reflex, a forced and awkward call-to-arms in favour of a sense of national pride and a need to stamp the Canadian flag (hopefully not just the Maple Leaf) on the Stanley Cup and, in turn, the sport of hockey. It's also something I could do without.
None of this matters anyway, because the Pittsburgh Penguins are "Canada's Team."
The Ottawa Senators' captain is Daniel Alfredsson. He's a fine captain, but the Pittsburgh Penguins' captain is Sidney Crosby. Yeah, that Sidney Crosby.
The guy who passed him the puck? Jarome Iginla, another Pittsburgh Penguin. Also on that team that brought gold to Canada? Brenden Morrow. And Marc-Andre Fleury. Who did the Senators have on that team? No one. When it comes to literally being a team of players who have competed for Canada, that team is the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Not enough evidence for you? How about the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, hockey legend Mario Lemieux? Yeah, that Mario Lemieux.
Still not convinced? Ask Calgary Flames fans. They'd love to see Iginla win the Cup. Ask Toronto Maple Leafs fans. They don't want to see their rivals, the Ottawa Senators, succeed. Montreal Canadiens fans feel the same way. That's three out of six remaining Canadian NHL fanbases. That's good enough for us.
Craig Adams counts as Canadian here.
Do we seriously believe that Canadians should rally around the Pittsburgh Penguins? Not really. The idea of "Canada's Team" is ludicrous at best. It's like expecting Flyers fans to start cheering for the Penguins because they're "Pennsylvania's Team." It's not going to happen. And, really, it shouldn't happen.
But if an entire country was going to rally around a team, why not the Pittsburgh Penguins? It makes just as much sense as the Senators….