In what was likely, from a ratings perspective, the marquee match-up of the regular season for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, “Canada’s Team” (the perennially beleaguered Toronto Maple Leafs) received another beat down from Canada’s best, who according to a CBC players’ poll are also the NHL’s “most overrated”, team.
And the result should have been no surprise to anyone despite the Leafs supposedly being a threat for a playoff spot this year and with the Canucks, while still consistently winning, not having dominated a team for 60 minutes in nearly two months.
These days, a Saturday night beat down of the Leafs, still looking for their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since the league expanded beyond six teams, is a sure bet. Toronto has not beaten Vancouver in nearly nine years (the same season they last made the playoffs), either home or away. And in recent years, the Leafs can’t even keep the score close. Perhaps it’s the ghost of Mats Sundin. You see since the Canucks beat the Leafs with Sundin scoring the shootout winner for Vancouver, they have won all six meetings by a combined score of 28-13.
For a Canucks’ fan, it just doesn’t get any better. Of course, the CBC broadcast the game at 4pm PDT to accommodate all the Leaf Lovers in the centre of the universe, most of whom had likely turned the game off in the second period. And Ron MacLean’s whipping boy, Alex Burrows, once again delivered the most appropriate response to MacLean’s unforgivable hatchet job of two seasons ago with a lovely two goal performance. And to top things off, Don Cherry was trumpeting the Canucks’ toughness during Coach’s Corner.
But the CBC, and the rest of the country, will seemingly never have enough love for the Canucks despite their long run as the best team in Canada. We saw this story before with the last consistently successful Canadian team, the Ottawa Senators, who, despite playing in the nation’s capital, were roundly ignored by the CBC in favour of the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens and garnered little following outside the capital region.
But the facts are that the Canucks are the last Canadian team be in a Stanley Cup Final, not to mention the last Canadian team to appear in two Finals. They are the best regular season Canadian team of this century. And since the end of the 70’s, have outperformed the mostly hapless Maple Leafs 22 times in 31 seasons.
And despite being one win away from a Stanley Cup and on the verge of a possible second straight President`s Trophy, the Canucks have now been anointed as the most overrated team in the NHL (in a poll conducted by the CBC, of course).
So it seems, for the time being, the Leafs will continue as the national disgrace while Vancouver, outside the fanaticism of Canuck Nation, will get no respect.
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