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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Edmonton Oilers Carry Weight of Canada on their Shoulders



Oilers canada

FORT LAUDERDALE — It has been 31 years since a team from Canada has hoisted the Stanley Cup. Now, the Edmonton Oilers have the opportunity to keep the Cup at home.

For the most part, Canada is behind them.

“It will be electric in that town,’’ coach Paul Maurice said.

There will be a lot of pressure on the Oilers to bring the Cup back to Canada.

The pressure on the Florida Panthers to win the Stanley Cup is internal; they would like to win it for the first time in their history and bring it back to the Sunshine State. But there will not be fans from Tallahassee or Jacksonville losing sleep if they do not.

Canada is different.

There is something about a Canadian team winning the greatest trophy in sports — their sport, mind you.

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If the Oilers were to beat the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final, they would be the first Canadian team to win it since Montreal’s Canadiens did so in 1993.

Edmonton had already won the Cup five times by then.

The Panthers, who some hockey purists still look down on as an expansion team playing in an exotic locale, started play the following season.

“There are a lot of people watching hockey straight into June up there. It’s just part of the fabric of life,” said Maurice, coach of the Panthers who is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

“If there was a 40,000-seat arena, they could probably fill it for an event like this. Every city in the league thinks they have the loudest building. They just do. Their building will be loud, our building will be loud.’’

Even in most years, a Canadian NHL team playing for the Cup would be adopted by the general populace.

Sure, there are outliers — especially from those who are fans of Edmonton’s provincial rival three hours south in Calgary.

But this Edmonton team truly is born of Canada: 24 players on its expanded playoff roster hail from Canada.

Not to be outdone, Florida has 13 players from Canada.

“I think it is going to be nuts. They are really passionate about their hockey up there,” said Carter Verhaeghe, who is from Waterdown, Ont., which is not far from Toronto.

“It’s going to be crazy, it has been a while for those fans and I expect nothing but the best atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun going in with a good atmosphere like we did with New York and Boston. That kind of atmosphere is awesome to play for and in intense moments.”

Said Sam Reinhart, from West Vancouver: “We’re expecting a great atmosphere, it has certainly been a while. … It’s definitely an exciting time. It is great for the game. We’re excited and up for the challenge.’’

Since Montreal won the Cup in 1993, a number of non-traditional cities have celebrated with their NHL team from Los Angeles to Tampa, Raleigh to Las Vegas.

That has not gone unnoticed north of the border.

The Panthers do not care about any of that.

They want to bring the Cup to the beaches of southern Florida.

“They want their teams to be where Edmonton is,” said Brandon Montour, from Six Nations of the Grand River, “but as a Canadian market, they will have the whole country behind them, excited and loud. Again, we focus on what we can. We have a pretty good state which is excited that we’re back as well. Our goal is to bring it back.”

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

  • When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule, All Games 8 p.m. on ABC — Game 1:Edmonton at Florida, Saturday; Game 2: Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 10; Game 3: Florida at Edmonton, Thursday June 13; Game 4: Florida at Edmonton, Saturday June 15; Game 5*: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday June 18; Game 6*: Florida at Edmonton, Friday June 21; Game 7*: Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 24. (*) – If Necessary
  • How They Got Here — Florida: d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2, New York Rangers 4-2; Edmonton: d. Los Angeles 4-1, Vancouver 4-3, Dallas 4-2.
  • This Season (Florida Won 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Oilers 3 (Nov. 20). At Edmonton: Panthers 5, Oilers 2 (Dec. 17).
  • Last Season: Edmonton Won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Oilers lead 23-16-0, 3 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting

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