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NHL is Canada’s embarrassment

The National Hockey League’s regular season is all but wrapped up. Come the end of next weekend, 16 of the 30 NHL teams will be moving onto the Stanley Cup playoffs while the other 14 can join us in watching the postseason play out.

Incredibly, each of the seven Canadian teams will be among those sitting on the proverbial sidelines.

Yes, the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets all missed the playoffs. This is the first time since 1970, when the league was in the midst of massive expansion. Of course, it is also worth noting that back then no team existed in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. Vancouver was around but only as a first-year expansion team.

Without question, much of Canada has to be feeling shame over the NHL playoffs being completely overrun by American teams. Frankly, there should be some shame.

Hockey is a Canadian game, and yet the front offices in each of those seven cities have provided miserable failures. The Canadiens were the odds-on favorite to reach the Stanley Cup Final out of the Eastern Conference and started out on fire, only to completely fall apart over the final four months. How Montreal is not completely cleaning house, starting with head coach Michel Therrien, is absurd. Therrien has been behind the bench since 2012 and only once has reached the conference finals despite a loaded roster.

In the case of the Maple Leafs, they are the New York Knicks of hockey. Any free agent would love to play in Toronto, which not only is a wonderful city but is the Mecca of the sport. The Maple Leafs are a miserable failure on every level, not having made the postseason since 2013 and not advancing past the first round since before the NHL lockout back in 2004.

For a country starved to win the Stanley Cup again – it has not happened since 1993 when Montreal defeated the Los Angeles Kings in five games – there is no hope in sight. Winnipeg is terrible, Edmonton is the king of drafting first-overall, Vancouver needs a total overhaul, Calgary has pieces but is ions away, Ottawa has a middling roster and the other teams have already been spoken for above.

At some point, these franchises need to get their respective acts together and start bringing in real head coaches and top-notch general managers. Outside of the hardest of hardcore hockey fans, most in North America would be hard-pressed to name one holding either title for any of the seven Canadian teams.

The country has a rich tradition in the sport, and the seven teams representing it are tarnishing everything Canada has enjoyed for a century. It’s time to start building toward respectability once again.

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