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Leafs, Jets, Oilers, Canucks hold Canada Cup hopes with 30-year drought | Nanaimo News Now

Leafs, Jets, Oilers, Canucks hold Canada Cup hopes with 30-year drought |  Nanaimo News Now

The Jets, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs make up the squad north of the border set to embark on the 16-team race for the sport's Silver Cup when the playoffs begin on Saturday.

Morrissey was too young to ride Calgary's electric Red Mile after games 20 years ago, but he could feel the energy pulsating in his hometown as the Flames advanced through three grueling rounds to the final.

“This is the best part about Canadian teams doing well in the qualifiers, and it means a lot,” he added. “A special time of year. The longer it goes, the more excitement. It can really mean a lot to cities.”

“I know when I was a kid, it meant a lot to me.”

Canada's well-documented drought dates back to Montreal's win in 1993. The Canucks (twice), Flames, Oilers, Canadiens and Ottawa Senators have all reached the final since then, only to fall short.

The four Canadian clubs in this year's post-season tournament represent the largest number of clubs to have qualified in a regular season since 2017.

Vancouver's Carson Soucy, who grew up southeast of Edmonton in Irma, Alta., remembers the Oilers' run to the 2006 final.

“That's when they came out with flags from the car windows,” he said. “They were everywhere…and they were popular that year.”

He added that it would be “crazy” to send the trophy back through customs.

“It's going to be crazy, honestly, just the support, I think from all of Canada — maybe along with a couple of rival teams,” Soucy said. “I think Canadians in general will be very excited to have it restored by a Canadian team.”

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Jets blueliner Brenden Dillon grew up a Canucks fan and was in town when the team lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the 2011 Final.

“There's really nothing like a hockey game (in Canada),” said the New Westminster, British Columbia, product. “Everyone is bonding together.”

Vancouver lineman Noah Jolsen, who grew up in nearby Abbotsford, British Columbia, also enjoyed the 2011 race as a fan, but remembers the black eye that came afterward.

“Riots,” he said. “It's not the best memory you want, but it's a memory.”

Leafs player Simon Benoit, who grew up in the Montreal suburb of Laval, remembers watching the Canadiens make two playoff runs when he was a kid.

“To get the opportunity here to play in that cup is very special,” he said of this opportunity with Toronto. “I'm very excited about it. When the time comes, I'll be ready.”

Edmonton Oilers center Adam Henrique is set to play his first home playoff game after reaching the 2018 final with the New Jersey Devils.

“You see the passion in the fan base,” the Brantford, Ont., native said. “I've definitely seen it in the past, and even on TV you can see it and feel those emotions.”

Canucks coach Rick Touchette won the Cup as a player with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992. He said the team that brings home hockey's Holy Grail will have bragging rights for a long time.

“It's going to be a hell of a party,” he said. “You could be Team Canada after the Stanley Cup. There's a lot at stake for the Canadian teams involved. As a Canadian, it could be huge.”

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“This will be the final, right?”

Like many Canadian fans over the past 30 years, Morrissey was bitterly disappointed when the Flames bowed out in a Game 7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning two decades ago.

“I remember being absolutely devastated,” he said.

But there were a lot of good times along the way.

“My friends and I from that era still talk about some of the games,” Morrissey continued. “She lives a long time.”

The glow of a cup win will last a while longer.

-With files from Judy Owen in Winnipeg, Gemma Carstens-Smith in Vancouver, and Steven Sandor in Edmonton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2024.

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Follow @JClipperton_CP on X.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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