Justin Trudeau isn’t a true Ottawa Senators fan—his hockey allegiance lies with the Montreal Canadiens—but last week the Prime Minister made it known that he’s flexible.
“I think all Canadians will be rooting for the final Canadian team in the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Trudeau said last week in Brampton, Ont. “We’re all happy to support Ottawa right now and even Torontonians and Montrealers can agree on this.”
Skepticism rightfully ensued. Simply because the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs doesn’t mean their fans should shift their loyalty without good reason. Nor should Edmonton Oilers fans, still stinging from a Game 7 loss in the second round, feel the need to express their patriotism through finding another team located north of the border.
Even some Ottawa Senators fans protested the suggestion that the rest of the country rally behind them. As Maclean’s journalist Shannon Proudfoot said on Twitter:
Nope. Nobody do this. No one is asking you to, least of all Sens fans. Nurture the flame of your spite and loathing—hold it close. https://t.co/Cz8r8B3bi6
— Shannon Proudfoot (@sproudfoot) May 12, 2017
With only four teams left in pursuit of Lord Stanley’s cup—the Senators, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Nashville Predators and the Anaheim Ducks—Maclean’s set out to prove the Prime Minister wrong by digging into the numbers, from the players, to the coaches, to ownership, to find out which team is truly the most Canadian and worthy of the entire nation’s support.
And after looking into the stats, it turns out that team is—yes—the Ottawa Senators.
(We did something like this twice before, during the 2015 and 2016 playoffs if you want to go back and take a look.)
Comparing rosters, the Senators have more Canadian players (17) than any of the four teams left in contention. They also are the only team with at least one player representing the provinces of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. (Sorry, Atlantic Canada.) More Canadians on the roster means the Stanley Cup will spend more time in the great white north, as the Cup splits its time with players on the winning team.
Standing on the bench, the Senators are one of two teams with a Canadian head coach—the Anaheim Ducks being the other. But unlike the Ducks, the Senators have not eliminated any Canadian team en route to the Conference Finals, and thus avoided stirring up any bad blood with Canadian fans from other cities.
The Senators’s patriotism résumé is not without its faults. They are the lone team without a Canadian as team captain (though their team roster lists three alternate captains—all of them Canadian), their starting goalie is American, and P.K. Subban doesn’t play for them.
|Canadians on roster||19||17||12||15|
|Have not eliminated a Canadian team?|
* co-owned by Canadian and American.
And yet, from top to bottom, the Senators are by far the most Canadian team left out there—even off the ice. They are the only remaining playoff team entirely Canadian-owned. Their home arena is called the “Canadian Tire Centre.” And those home games are located in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata— kanata being a Huron-Iroquois word meaning “village” from which the word “Canada” itself is said to derive. The Ducks, Predators and Penguins have little to offer Canadians by comparison.
There’s also some analytical evidence that Canadians are keener on the Senators than the rest of the lot, if our use of Google is any indication. This chart shows the relative search interest in the four teams in Canada over the past 30 days—the Senators have consistently been on top.
Meanwhile here is how the provinces compare in their search interest in the remaining four teams. Only in Alberta and Nova Scotia (where Sidney Crosby of the Penguins hails from) have people been googling other teams more than the Senators.
The Ottawa Senators aren’t Canada’s team now because the Prime Minister said so. On the contrary, they are Canada’s team because the data bears it out.