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As the National Hockey League’s regular season draws to a close, a new study from the Angus Reid Institute shows Canadian hockey fans united in their desire for any Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup regardless of the team’s city.

The trend reflects a shift towards national pride over regional loyalty.

With the playoffs set to begin on April 20, Canadians are gearing up with renewed hope that this might be the year the Cup comes home.

It has been over three decades since a Canadian team lifted the trophy, with the Montreal Canadiens last winning it back in 1993. The survey, conducted online from April 9 to 11 among 1,615 Canadian adults, highlights a nation eager to reclaim hockey supremacy.

When asked which team they thought would finally break Canada’s drought, the largest percentage of respondents chose the Toronto Maple Leafs, at 21%. This was followed closely by the Edmonton Oilers at 20%. 

Despite remaining on top of the list since 2019, the last year the Leafs won the Stanley Cup was 1967.

In third place, despite being third in their division, was the Vancouver Canucks at 14%. 

9% of Canadians think the Montreal Canadiens will lift Canada out of its drought. Montreal is currently second last in their conference and is in a rebuild.

Despite being in the playoffs this year, fewer Canadians chose the Winnipeg Jets, at 5%.

4% of Canadians said that no Canadian team will ever win the Stanley Cup again; this is higher than the 2% that chose the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators to lift Canada out of its drought. The remaining 23% said they did not know.

Those who never see Canada winning a Stanley Cup again are split amongst those who think Canada is cursed and others who think that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman hates Canadian teams, as he continuously expands the NHL teams in the United States but gives Quebec City (who has an NHL-ready arena and fanbase begging to support a team) the shaft.

The Arizona Coyotes were confirmed to be moving to Salt Lake City last weekend.

Bettman became the league’s commissioner in 1993. Canada has not won a Stanley Cup since then. Despite Canada’s inability to hoist the coveted trophy, 42% of all players are from Canada, according to The Win Column.

Opinions around who would win the next Stanley Cup have seen a drastic shift since 2021, where 26% of Canadians thought Toronto would be the next Canadian team to win the Cup, followed by 21% who thought Montreal, and 7% who thought it would be Edmonton.

Despite the variance in who they think might end the drought, in 2016, 57% of Canadians said they didn’t care who won, just that Canada did. That number has since increased to 64%. This proportion of people was the largest in Manitoba, at 78%.

27% said they’ll cheer for certain teams, but others are rivals, while 9% said they can only cheer for their team as every other team is considered a rival. 

“For many Canadians, the team to win has evidently become less important than the act of winning,” said the study.

Of the four teams in the playoffs this year, Manitoba and British Columbia had the biggest support for their local teams, at 86% and 83%, respectively. Only 73% of Ontarians wanted the Leafs to win the cup. In comparison, 64% of Albertans wanted the Oilers to win, probably due to the Calgary Flames fans being unable to support the Oilers morally.

Seven in ten Canadians say they pay at least some attention to the NHL. At the same time, 40% are considered active fans, the highest in about a decade since the Angus Reid Institute began surveying Canadians about the NHL.

About half of those who pay attention to the league are excited about playoff hockey, jumping in the four provinces with teams representing them. The lowest excitement comes from Quebec, where the Canadiens sit almost 20 points out of a playoff position.

The survey was conducted between Apr. 9 and 11 and surveyed a random sample of 1,615 Canadians.

With four Canadian teams in the playoffs this year, fans across the country are watching closely, hoping for the Stanley Cup to return to Canada for the first time since 1993.