It was so long ago that there were no DVDs. The internet was in its infancy; there was no World Wide Web. No streaming.
In 1993 the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup. Since then no Canadian team has won the iconic trophy.
When my son was very young and just discovering sports we would borrow a VHS tape (I told you it was a long time ago) of the Canadiens 1993 playoff run from the Pembroke Public Library. He would watch it over and over. It was an inspiring story of an underdog team reaching great heights.
The 27 year cup drought is, I am sure, the longest in Canadiens history. Toronto hasn’t won it since 1967. The Canadiens won it ten times between 1968 and 1993. Actually, back in the 1960s there was only one year, 1961, when the winner wasn’t either Montreal or Toronto.
Back then we expected a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup. After all, it happened more often than not.
The past 27 years have been tough for Canadian hockey fans. A couple of times a Canadian team has made it to the Stanley Cup final, only to break a nation’s collective heart.
But maybe not this year.
This was supposed to be the year the Toronto Maple Leafs won it all. Montreal edged them out in a seven game series.
Then it was the Winnipeg Jets who were expected to make short work of the underdog Canadiens, a team that just squeaked into the playoffs. Montreal swept the series, four games to zero.
Now they have dispatched the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who were pretty much favored all year to be one of the Stanley Cup finalists. The underdogs are going to the finals, and a nation is doing with them.
Canadians take their hockey seriously. The sport is in our DNA. Public health restrictions limited the number of fans in the arena Thursday night as the Canadiens clinched theoir spot in the finals – but there were tens of thousands more dancing in the streets. And a nation danced with them in spirit.
It has been far too long since the Cup came home. Maybe, in this year of COVID, we’ll all be smiling soon. Go Habs Go!
Go “Les Habitantes.”