It’s not automatic that the last Canadian-based team in the Stanley Cup playoffs should become Canada’s team.
If the Calgary Flames were the only Canadian team left, Edmonton fans wouldn’t cheer for them. And vice versa. And it goes without saying that very few Ottawa Senators fans would jump on the Toronto Maple Leafs bandwagon if there were no other Canadian teams left to root for. But the Winnipeg Jets seem to be an exception. The Jets don’t have a natural rivalry with another Canadian team. The closest thing they have to an archenemy is the Minnesota Wild.
Another factor is that their story is so appealing. Most Canadian hockey fans can relate to the loss of the Jets in 1996 and the return of the NHL to Winnipeg in 2011. And you can’t help but admire how a small-market franchise has built a successful team carefully and strategically, through the draft and some very smart acquisitions.
In other words, it’s hard not to root for Winnipeg. It doesn’t happen every year, but as the last team standing north of the border, this year’s Jets really seem to be Canada’s team.