What hockey has shown us about Canada

Right now I’m watching the live feed of Game 7 of the National Hockey League’s finals, the Boston Bruins ahead of the Vancouver Canucks (playing in Vancouver) by one goal.

The whole thing has been fascinating, not only from a sports perspective but from a cultural perpective. Hockey, its problems with credibility and takeup and growing competition from other sports notwithstanding, can be plausibly called the Canadian national sport. Certainly hockey has proven its centrality in Canada now.

* The growing strength of the Canadian economy–and dollar–relative to the American has created an economically plausible case for the expansion of the NHL back to Winnipeg and Québec City. Winnipeg actually has taken over the Atlanta Thrashers, bolstering civic pride.
* The long-standing and expensively-funded desire of Québec City to get back its NHL team has not succeeded yet, but it has been the trigger for the implosion of the Parti Québécois just a month after the annihilation of the Bloc Québécois in the federal election.
* Finally, the Vancouver Canucks’ success has revealed interesting things about intra-Canadian solidarity. Writers for the Edmonton Journal and Torontoist have both refused to support the Canucks as a Canadian team versus the Bruins, arguing that in terms of the nationality of its players the Bruins are more Canadian than the Canucks. Atlantic Canadians, meanwhile, have come out in support of the Bruins based on century-old ties between New England and–what I would call–its hinterland in Atlantic Canada.

The NHL finals have been fantastic. And, now, here I go back to watching the game.

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