Why is ice hockey important in Canada

Ice Hockey - The Canadian Longing for Success

The Canadian longing for success

Since 1993 no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup - the title in the best league in the world. It is time for Canada to finally find balm for its wounds

The words are in the Canadian constitution. They tell us why ice hockey is so important to Canadians:

"Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows: The game commonly known as ice hockey is hereby recognized and declared to be the national winter sport of Canada."

Ice hockey is enshrined in the Canadian constitution as a national sport. Not even the wrestlers have made it that far with us. Not only cynics say that ice hockey is the strongest force in Quebec next to the Catholic Church - and the strongest on match days of the Montreal Canadiens.

Even if the game is played on Sunday. How much Canadians see themselves as the center of the hockey world was put into words by a columnist in Montreal in 2007. At that time, David Aebischer and Cristobal Huet guarded the Canadiens' gate and the chronicler noted: "A Swiss and a French in the Canadiens gate - the end of the world is near."

Until 1993 the world is fine in Canada. The National Hockey League (NHL), the most important league in the world, is a Canadian institution and consists of 24 teams. The US is home to more teams, but Canadians rule the NHL. The sport is shaped by Canadians who make up 90 percent of all players. The Canadian teams play for the Stanley Cup on an equal footing with the US teams.

The last triumph for a long time

In the course of the 1990s, the NHL even temporarily gave up its New York office and moved to Montreal. The average salary is $ 120,000. In 1993 the Canadiens win their 24th Stanley Cup. The "Habs" are the most successful sports company in North America. Nobody suspects that it will be the last triumph of a Canadian team.

Today, players in the 30 NHL companies make an average of nearly $ 2 million. Only around half of the millionaires still have a Canadian passport. The NHL has long had its headquarters in Manhattan and a lawyer from New York with no connection to hockey culture (Gary Bettman) is the NHL managing director. He is the most hated sports official in Canada.

The FBI has put Alan Eagleson, Canada's most powerful hockey official and holder of Canada's highest medals, in jail. Worse still, the Canadian teams (now Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto) haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1993. Canada's national sport is ruled by US money and dominated by US teams. American money rules Canada's soul. A nightmare.

US dollars made the difference

Initially, the dominance of big money, the higher value of the US dollar against the Canadian currency, weakened the Canadian teams. They just couldn't afford the expensive players anymore.

The stars that made Edmonton the dominant team of the 1980s all moved to the US, Los Angeles and New York. The hard core of the 1994 Stanley Cup winning Rangers team are heroes from Edmonton, led by Mark Messier.

Salaries have now been limited. Economically, the seven Canadian NHL companies have the same length of spit as their competitors in the USA. The excuse of lack of money, so cheap for years, no longer applies. Why do Canadians fail? Statistics alone say that Americans are more likely to win the Stanley Cup: 23 out of 30 teams are based in the USA.

Over the next few years, the NHL will expand to 34 teams and at least one of them will be from Canada. But the chances of winning the Stanley Cup are not increasing. And there is something else: The Canadians have been failing since 1993 because of better managed and coached competition. The idea that Americans can do hockey better is almost unbearable for Canadians.