The NHL is a wildly popular competition across the United States and, of course, features several teams from Canada.
From the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers to the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames, and more, the country is well represented in the NHL with seven of the 31 teams overall.
In fact, at last, count, whether they represent a Canadian or US team, stars from Canada accounted for almost 50% of the NHL’s total player base.
That is a high percentage but was even significantly larger in the 1980s when more than 75% of the NHL player base comprised Canadians.
Canada has three of the eight most successful teams since the Stanley Cup era started in 1915. They are the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Edmonton Oilers. A number of reliable sports betting providers in Canada listed on websites like sportsbetting24.com have these three teams as favorites for important domestic tournaments. For example, bet365 has the Oilers and Canadiens priced at 15/1 and 24/1, respectively, to win this season’s Stanley Cup.
Montreal Canadiens dominance
The Montreal outfit is the most successful Stanley Cup team, ever. With 34 Finals appearances, they boast 24 wins. The last of these came in 1993, so it is nearing three decades since they last claimed a title. The late 1970s were particularly good to the Montreal team, with four consecutive Finals victories collected in ’76, ’77, ‘7, and ’79.
Toronto Maple Leafs’ limelight
The Toronto team has been in 21 Stanley Cup Finals and won 13 of those. They are third only to the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings in terms of the number of Stanley Cup titles won. The 1960s were especially solid for the Leafs, who clinched titles in ’60, ’62, ’63, ’64, and again in ’67. That final win in the 1960s, though, was their last. They haven’t taken another one since, but are still chasing that long-awaited 14th Stanley Cup title.
Edmonton Oilers’ ambition
The Edmonton Oilers’ ratio of five Stanley Cup Finals triumphs for seven appearances is impressive. The quintet of victories was achieved across 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990. They are effectively the quintessential contemporary Canadian NHL fan’s favorite team.
Calgary Flames’ fledgling pursuits
The Flames have been in three Finals but won just one. That was in 1989 when they beat the Montreal Canadiens. The Calgary outfit also lost a Finals string to the Canadiens in 1986. In 2004, they lost the Finals to Tampa Bay.
Vancouver Canucks not yet off the mark
Spare a thought for the Canucks, who have been to three Finals, yet are still without a maiden title. The New York Islanders, New York Rangers, and Boston Bruins ultimately got the better of them in 1982, 1994, and 2011, respectively.
Ottawa Senators’ single showing
The Senators have a single Stanley Cup Finals outing, which was in 2007. They went down 4-1 to the Anaheim Ducks that season. The talented Daniel Alfredsson was the Ottawa side’s captain that year, but couldn’t inspire his troops to capitalize on victory in game three.
Winnipeg Jets still to move from zero
The Jets have never graduated to the Stanley Cup finals. They are the only Canadian NHL team to not reach the final two. Whether they ever will remain in the balance.
Canadian Stars in the NHL
The Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid recently reached the milestone of 500 career points and is gradually being compared to other Canadian NHL greats like Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby.
McDavid welcomed the landmark in his 369th regular-season game. Only seven other players, including Gretzky, have reached 500 points quicker.
“In Connor’s class, I think he’s unique. “The speed he plays with, I’m not sure I would put anyone in his class. I mean, there are great players all around the league. I think he’s a guy who kind of holds his own spot,” commented Edmonton Oilers team-mate Darnell Nurse.
McDavid, who was born in Richmond Hill, Ontario, added: “I’m motivated every night, I want to be the best I can be every single night. There are guys you watch, and compare yourself to. And when they’re doing well, you want to make sure you’re doing the same. But I’m a motivated guy.”
Crosby was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but is turning out for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He, incidentally, collected his 500th career point in the exact same number of regular-season games as McDavid. The comparisons between the two talents, therefore, are understandable.
“Crosby has done everything I want to do. He’s a great guy to follow. He’s done everything he has set his mind to. He wanted to get better on faceoffs, and he’s done that,” added McDavid.
“He wanted to score more goals, and he did that. There are a lot of lessons from his game, because his game has changed over the years. He does whatever he can to be successful.”
And don’t forget Mark Messier
Alberta, Canada’s Messier relished a prolific NHL career for the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, and Vancouver Canucks from 1979 to 2004. To this day, he is heralded among the all-time greats of the NHL and the sport of ice hockey in general. His list of achievements is long and illustrious.
He is the only player in the history of the Stanley Cup to captain two title-winning teams – the Oilers and Rangers.
Messier featured among the top dozen in 1998’s 100 greatest hockey players list published by The Hockey News.
Only fellow great Gordon Howie has more regular-season NHL appearances than Messier’s 1756. Howie, for the record, garnered 1767.
For some history and nostalgia, it’s worth noting Messier was the final active player to have made an NHL appearance in the 1970s – and was also the last active player to appear in the World Hockey Association.
Rounding off the records
In closing, Dick Irving’s achievements shouldn’t go unmentioned. The late, great NHL coach of Canadian descent brought plenty to the league. Perhaps most notably, though, Irving’s record for the most games by a coach in Stanley Cup Finals, 77, might never be surpassed. More than half, 43, were collected with Montreal. A further 29 came with Toronto. The final five were through Chicago.