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Ottawa Senators' right wing Daniel Alfredsson (11) steps on the ice against the New York Rangers during the first period of game six of first round NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Monday, April 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
Ottawa Senators' right wing Daniel Alfredsson (11) steps on the ice against the New York Rangers during the first period of game six of first round NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Monday, April 23, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Canada's NHL teams should be better Add to ...

And then there were none.

So for the first time since 1996, the last year of the old Winnipeg Jets, there won't be a Canadian NHL team in the second round of the playoffs, with the plucky eighth seeded Ottawa Senators the last one to bow out in Thursday's Game 7 loss.

It's now been 19 years since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens surprised everyone in winning their 24th Stanley Cup, capping a run of eight Canadian winners in 10 years.

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In fact, in the 52 seasons between 1942 and that 1993 win, a Canadian NHL team won the Cup all but 16 times – an impressive 69 per cent of the time.

A championship parade in Montreal or Edmonton, in other words, was the rule, not the exception.

At this point, the drought has gotten rather embarrassing, especially considering the financial situation of every Canadian team has improved dramatically in the last decade.

The seven NHL teams in this country are now routinely the league's wealthiest, paying into revenue sharing for newer markets like Phoenix and Nashville on the basis of lengthy sellout streaks and high ticket prices.

Demand has never been higher, despite that lack of winning a Cup, and that in part has brought a team back to Winnipeg and created a movement for two more in Quebec City and the Greater Toronto Area.

Consider this: Despite small buildings in Edmonton and Winnipeg, Canadian NHL teams sold an average of 18,593 tickets a game during the regular season, putting those seven arenas at 101 per cent capacity on the year even while five of those clubs missed the playoffs.

The American-based teams, meanwhile, averaged 17,109 fans per game and 93.5 per cent capacity, numbers that have improved in recent years but which continue to be very low in a handful of troubled spots. (Five markets had fewer bums in the seats than Winnipeg, which has the smallest building in the league.)

There's an even bigger disparity when it comes to ticket prices, as in the most recent year solid data is available (2009-10), Canadian teams charged an average of $70.66 per game, which is 52 per cent more than the $46.56 for an American based franchise.

Those teams also spent slightly more this season, with an average team cap hit of $59.9-million – just $4-million under the cap – compared to $58.5-million.

And once again, no Canadian team is expected to collect revenue sharing, not even the Jets.

None of that should come as a surprise to anyone.

What is rather alarming is how little return Canadian teams have had on those dollars and that attendance. Looking at just the regular season, over the last five years, the only Canadian team among the top 14 in wins is Vancouver (fourth best with 238).

Calgary is 15th, Montreal tied for 16th, Ottawa tied for 20th, Toronto 27th and Edmonton 29th.

Excluding the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise from the equation, the average Canadian franchise has averaged 88.5 points over the last five years, compared to 93 for U.S. based teams.

Which is often the difference between making the playoffs and not.

(Things have generally been a little better in the playoffs, as four Canadian teams have made runs to the finals in the last seven seasons only to come up short in the end. Before 2004, however, a Canadian team hadn't made the finals since the 1994 Vancouver Canucks.)

The why behind this trend may not be any more complicated than simply that these franchise are mismanaged. That's certainly the case, to varying degrees, in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal, where either the former or current general managers have left a lot to be desired.

What's too often left unsaid is that with the dollar at par, the Canadian franchises have a significant financial advantage and it really should be showing up more on the ice.

Until it starts to, the Cup drought in this country could continue for a while.



<h5 style='border-top: #000 1px solid; border-bottom: #000 1px dotted; font:14px Georgia,serif; font-weight: normal; width: 460px; padding: 5px 0; margin: 20px 0 0'>Average point totals, past five seasons</h5><iframe src='http://www.theglobeandmail.com/static/test/charts/google/google_iframe_04.html?id=000&type=column&ssid=0Ar3M_smeSBJsdDlieVZJbW1ubjNmQ1Q1OW50a0doS3c&bm=75&lm=60&w=460&h=300' scrolling='no' frameborder='no' width='460' height='300' style='border-bottom: 1px dotted #000; margin: 20px 0 0' ></iframe>


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