The 2015-16 NHL season trade deadline is five days away and thus an increasingly hot topic for hockey writers like Chris Peters of CBS Sports Wednesday, Feb. 24. This should result in a wave of players coming down from Canada in exchange for draft picks and prospects because none of the hockey nation’s seven teams are going to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The last time there was not even an Eastern Conference team from Canada in the Stanley Cup playoffs was before the oldest active player (Jaromir Jagr, 44) was born. Only eight teams reached the postseason in 1970 because there were only a dozen franchises, and only two of those were north of the border.
No one owned computers back then and most families had just one black-and-white television. Communities were largely segregated, as were some laws. The Viet Nam war persisted against American sentiment and many sought refuge in Canada, while the Soviet Union was a deeper threat than terrorism. The music scene had not even lost Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix.
Something that has not happened since that bygone era is almost a lock to again in the 2015-16 NHL season. While not as monumental as the aforementioned events, the nation that not only lives and breathes hockey—in fact, without Canada hockey would not live and breathe—will have no direct rooting interest in any teams playing for the Stanley Cup.
The Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets all made it in from the Western Conference last spring, but all are more than four games out with 23 to go. The Edmonton Oilers are again competing for the top pick so far back that if they closed with 21 wins they probably still would not make it.
The Montreal Canadiens have only missed the Stanley Cup playoffs seven other times since that ex-patriot postseason in 1970, but currently sit 13th in the Eastern Conference with just 21 games left on the 2015-16 NHL season. More than four games separate them from a postseason berth and their elite goalie is not going to return.
The Ottawa Senators acquired Dion Phaneuf to help themselves immediately even though they were already four games out. A four-game winning streak may delude them into thinking they are going to catch the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings for one of the wild cards, but all of those teams have better talent, experience and defensive foundations and are over three games ahead so this team should sell at the deadline.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs ride the bottom of the 2015-16 NHL season standings again and are already in fire-sale mode. Roman Polak and Nick Spaling were traded to the San Jose Sharks Monday for second-round picks plus the financial and moral burden of carrying Raffi Torres on the franchise payroll.
All the teams north of the border looking to dump talent to build for the future could result in an immigration problem from Canada so big it catches Donald Trump’s attention. Then again, he might only be able to talk about it for six weeks if the world ends when the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs begin without any team from the founding nation.