Sports Bulls & Bears: Canada could send five teams to NHL playoffs

 

Last time five made the cut was 2004

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

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VANCOUVER — Sorting out the major winners and losers of this week — with a bottom-line twist — in the world of sports:

BULLS OF THE WEEK

The Montreal Canadiens are in. The Vancouver Canucks are on the cusp. The Calgary Flames are close. The Winnipeg Jets are hanging on. And the Ottawa Senators have their work cut out for them to close the gap on the Original Six Boston Bruins for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

Yet even the notion that the Senators are still in the playoff conversation in the final week of the regular season is remarkable given where they were a month ago. The fact it’s April and five of Canada’s seven NHL franchises are still alive is refreshing compared to last year at this time when the Montreal Canadiens were the only Canadian-based franchise to qualify for the Stanley Cup tournament en route to making the Eastern Conference final.

It’s also great for the business of the NHL and hockey in Canada, including television and radio rights-holders, league corporate partners and licensees, along with the five franchises involved, their own corporate partners and their respective sales departments pushing season ticket renewals for the 2015-16 regular season.

It’s notable because it doesn’t happen often, despite how strong all seven Canadian franchises are in the Stanley Cup of hockey economics. Four teams made the playoffs two years ago in 2013, but the last time five made it was more than a decade ago in 2004, before the lockout that cancelled the 2004-05 season and playoffs. The only other time it’s happened in more than two decades was back in 1993, when the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens were one of six Canadian teams to make the playoffs. In fact, the average rate of Canadian content in the Stanley Cup tournament is 3.4 teams over that time span.

It’s one thing to have the Stanley Cup drought in Canada reach 21 years last season. It’s another to see such big money-making machines underperforming by not consistently reaching the top 16 of the post-season. That’s a big disconnect considering three of the top five most valuable franchises in the NHL are Canadian and all seven of them are among the league’s top 16 in virtually every major financial indicator and business metric. Logic would dictate more successful teams and, at some point soon, another Canadian Stanley Cup.

BEARS OF THE WEEK

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers, for long being out of the playoff picture — and the Leafs in particular for not seeming to care about it very much. Shame on that core of so-called professionals.

Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week every Saturday in The Vancouver Sun.

 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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