Edmonton fans had plenty of reasons to celebrate in the 1980s, when they had a young Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier lead them to five championships in seven years. After Gretzky and Messier left the team, the team still had some success in the 1990s, making the playoffs five times during the decade, but they were unable to make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In 2006, the team found a way to make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. After the Stanley Cup appearance, the team went into a rebuild and missed the playoffs for 11 years until they returned last season thanks to their young talent, led by Connor McDavid, who won the Art Ross trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s MVP last season.
The Oilers made it to the second round of the playoffs last year, losing to the Anaheim Ducks in seven games. While the Oilers were a very spirited team last year, they were also very young and inexperienced when it came to post-season play. Now that they have tasted some playoff success, fans and hockey experts expect the team to contend for the title this season. Even though they are one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup, the Oilers still have a lot of work ahead of them as teams like the Nashville Predators, who are coming off their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance last year, as well as the playoff savvy Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, are also hoping to contend for the championship again this year.
With McDavid and Draisaitl leading the way, the Oilers will be one of the most exciting teams to watch, but these young guys cannot afford to let the hype get to their heads if they want to achieve the ultimate goal this season. The Oilers will not only have their fans behind them, they are also going to have most of Canada rooting for them especially in the playoffs as Canadians are hoping the Oilers can finally end the streak of Canadian teams not winning the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens did it in 1993.
Since then, other Canadian teams like the Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have come close but none has been able to end the streak. During the week, McDavid told reporters he didn’t know what the protocol is if a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup. He asked the reporters if the teams usually visit the White House like the U.S. teams that win do, or visit the Canadian Parliament instead.
While McDavid’s questions might seem strange, it actually makes a lot of sense when you consider the fact that he wasn’t born when Montreal won the Stanley Cup so he has no reference to go by.
One thing is for sure, the Oilers and the other six Canadian teams in the NHL have given the people of Canada a lot to be optimistic about this year. If they are able to bring home the hardware, expect to see the entire country celebrate like it’s 1993.