What’s Wrong With The NHL? (And Why Hasn’t A Canadian Team Won The Cup Since 1993?)

I love hockey. I love watching hockey. I cheer for my favourite Canadian team. I cheer for all Canadian teams in the NHL. And that is where my frustration begins.

The last time a Canadian NHL team won the Stanley Cup was 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens accomplished the feat. Indeed, only a small number of Canadian NHL teams have made it to the finals in the last two decades. That means that it has been 28 years and counting since a Canadian team has last won the Stanley Cup. 

Does that seem as totally unlikely to you as it does to me? Well it should. Lets discuss the basic statistics behind this series of events to better understand how truly unlikely it is. 

Let’s presume that every NHL team has an equal chance each year at winning the Cup. I know you’re thinking thats a huge presumption, but bear with me as I present this basic argument. I realize that every team doesn’t have the same chance to win, but in my mind, an exciting NHL would have that kind of parity. And over almost 30 years, the law of averages should take affect. 

So, with 7 Canadian teams in a 31 team league, the odds of a Canadian team winning the Cup should be 7 divided 31. And that means that the odds of a Canadian team not winning the Cup would be 24 divided by 31. For this to happen 28 consecutive times, the odds of this event occurring would be 24/31 to the exponent 28. If you have a calculator, you will see that the product of this calculation is 0.0007. That is less than one tenth of one percent. Seven chances in ten thousand! No gambler would ever take these odds. It is outrageously unlikely. 

So what’s wrong? The usual answers I have received when I posed this question to friends and other hockey fans are as follows:

Canadian teams are poorly managed.

I really don’t believe this. Some teams have poor management for a period of time, but not all 7 Canadian teams are poorly managed collectively for 28 years

Canadian teams don’t pay as well.

All NHL players are paid in USA dollars. So that isn’t it. It is true that taxes in Canada are higher, but does that prevent quality players from joining Canadian teams year after year

NHL Players don’t want to play in a cold climate

Nonsense. Would a NHL player turn down an opportunity to play in the hotbed of hockey? Honestly, there are some warm climate locations in the NHL, where people, in general, don’t know what hockey even is. In some warm weather locations in the NHL, hockey coverage comes well after most other sports. 

Final Thoughts

So what really is the problem? That’s a great question to ask Gary Bettman. I think its got a lot to do with revenue streams to the NHL, television rites, marketing, drafting players, expansion and so on. 

At any rate, when you start to get old and cynical like me, you wonder if NHL hockey chooses the winners in advance like the WWE. I really hope I’m wrong. I’m sure that you have an opinion on this matter. Share it with us.

By Garth Vanstone

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