Seven Different Cities

I really tried to stay out of the recent events that have happened in Vancouver and while this is not a direct post about them it will touch on their recent run to the cup finals. What this post is directly about is seven different cities and a look into their playoff traditions.

We’re going to take a look at each Canadian city with an NHL team and break down how they celebrate, how they cheer and what makes them great in their own ways, but most importantly why they’ll all benefit from having Winnipeg back in the league.

Montreal Canadiens

It’s only logical to start with the most historic Canadian franchise when it comes to play off traditions, sorry Leaf fans but Montreal has more cups so they get to go first. The most recent Stanley Cup appearance for Montreal also happens to be the last time a Canadian team as won Lord Stanley’s Cup back in 1993. During more recent play off runs fans of Montreal have on occasion continued the tradition that stems back from the Richard Riot back on St. Patrick’s Day in 1955 when he was suspended by then NHL president Clarence Campbell.

While back then the riot was in protest of Campbell showing up to a game after suspending their star player, it would seem now that Montrealers have a habit of rioting to celebrate victory.

Back in 1993 after defeating the Los Angeles Kings to win the Cup, fans rushed out of the Forum and started to smash, steal and loot. After defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2010 playoffs fans of Montreal once again celebrated by rioting and 41 fans found themselves arrested.

Now I can’t really figure out why anyone would want to destroy their own city under any circumstances revolving around a hockey game win or lose but I really don’t understand why this would become a tradition after winning. So if anyone can please comment below and explain it to me because I’m just clueless here.

Regardless of why the fans seem to riot after victory in Montreal that’s only a small more recent snippet of a teams history that is one of the only teams in the NHL that could say their playoff tradition is winning championships. That’s a right you earn when you win more then any other team in the league as Montreal has done. As much as it pains me to say it as I loathe the Detroit Red Wings but they are the only other team that can claim that fame currently with their success the past decade. Back in the 80’s the Islanders and Oilers had their claim to it as well but that has past but all time the only team that has a tradition of winning is Montreal. I just hope for their cities sake that they choose a better way of celebrating their victories, perhaps if the many strip clubs along St. Catherine’s offered free shows after playoff victories it might be better.

I guess we’ll see what happens next time they make a run at the cup. Until then we have to say Montreal’s tradition is to riot.

Toronto Maple Leafs

I’ll give Leaf fans credit they stick by they’re team no matter what. The Leafs haven’t won a cup since ’67 and haven’t had even a playoff appearance since 2004, they haven’t even made it back to a cup finals since they last won the cup. So while it’s hard to determine what might actually happen if the Leafs fans ever got to see their team make it back to the cup now we do have some history we can use to make a guess.

It’s arguable that Leaf fans are the most die hard in the league and the most wide spread. It’s not fun to admit it but we all have a friend or two or three that are leaf fans. And it’s always fun for us to ridicule them about their team but they keep coming back for more so it’s fair to say that if/when the Leafs do make the playoffs again and if/when they ever make it back to the Stanley Cup finals they will become the most annoying people we know.

All those years of torment and suffering that we’ve put Leaf fans thru will come back ten fold on us. From coast to coast all we will be able to hear is Leafs this and Leafs that. The fans in Toronto will no doubt be passionate and fill the streets. Younge St. will be shut down and the blue and white mile will be born or whatever clever nickname it gets. Fans will yell and scream and tell anyone not wearing a Leafs jersey how great their team is and how this will be the year they break the curse and win the Cup.

If they win we’ll never hear the end of it and the celebration will be the best celebration in any city ever because that is the Toronto way. If they lose they’ll still take to the streets and while some idiots may try to break things out of anger for the lose the majority of the Toronto fans won’t let them because Torontonians have a way about them and they love their city and their status as much as they love their Leafs so there’s no way they will wreck it.

No if they lose they will revert back to what Leaf fans do best… “Next year, we’ll win the cup next year.” So we might say the Leafs playoff tradition is perseverance and the ability to believe that next year will always be their year. I may hate and mock Leaf fans but I’ll give credit where credit is due. You’re faith is admirable don’t lose it.

Edmonton Oilers

We all know to well how good of a team the Oilers were in the 80’s. Ask any Jets fan and they’ll tell you how we could have won the cup any of those years if the Oilers weren’t in the league. A pipe dream perhaps but we had a point. in the late 80’s Edmonton was the city of Champions.

Present day not so much but I warn you, the young talent they are stock piling in Edmonton right now is going to develop into a scary team right around the time our young talent should be developing so don’t be surprised if we renew the old playoff tradition of facing the Oilers in the playoffs.

The last run to the cup for the Oilers came in 2006 the year after the lock out, and while the cup run was unexpected the fans of Edmonton knew how to celebrate. Fans would pack the bars along Whyte Ave or the “Blue Mile” and after a victory they’d take the streets and keep the party going.

In fact it wasn’t so much destruction that caused problems in Edmonton for police it was excessive drinking that led to violence in the streets and an estimated 350 people were arrested during their cup run due to that. The city however was very proactive in deterring this behaviour and threatened to close down Whyte Ave if the behaviour continued to escalate and that proactive approach stopped things from escalating and fans went back to drinking and having a good time.

I was visiting Edmonton at the time for Game 7 and on Whyte Ave and after the loss fans kept drinking in the bars, some went into the streets and went home. We went out afterwards and the bar was half empty.

I guess we can say that Edmonton’s playoff tradition is to drink and party and have a good time and if they get out of control their police are sure to let them know about it.

Calgary Flames

The city won it’s only Cup back in ’89 sandwiched by their rival Oiler’s championships.  The tradition that Winnipeggers know all to well in  Calgary is the “C of Red” the original inspiration for our White Out was the C of Red.

During the 2004 Cup run of the Flames a new tradition was born as the C of Red spilled out onto 17th Ave and were joined from fans wearing red in the bars that lined the street and became the Red Mile. As fans flooded the area Police were on scene to close down and reroute traffic. They were there to provide safety for fans and if things ever got out of control but they never did.

Instead of celebrating with violence or destruction Flames fans celebrated with high fives, chanting and of course girls flashing. It was a mardi gras like atmosphere and the police would join in with the high fives and the occasional chant and perhaps it was that peaceful approach that they took that kept fans in a good mood.

Even when the Flames lost game 7 of the finals the fans poured out onto the streets and went home. Had they won it would have been a block party like no other and the only regretful picture anyone would have had on the Internet the next day would have been of their breasts or a stupid look at seeing some.

We can safely say that Calgary’s playoff tradition is enjoying the moment and letting go of some inhibitions, while wearing only red.

Ottawa Senators

In 2007 the current rendition of the Senators had their first and only Stanley Cup appearance to date. Not many people remember what went on in the city during that time because lets be honest the people of Ottawa behaved.

It wasn’t until Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final that a facebook movement started the “Sens Mile” on Elgin St. Fans did take to the streets to celebrate and later to watch the games on big screens set up at City Hall but that was it.

There was no excessive violence or destruction or nudity it was just a good time. When the Sens lost in the final they went home.

It was only one example to draw from but it’s not a bad tradition to have. We can say that Ottawa’s playoff tradition is being good sports and supporting their team.

Vancouver Canucks

We all know what happened after Game 7 this year and the same thing happened the last time the Canucks lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in ’94 and it’s all been said in the news already but I want to look at what else happened in Vancouver leading up to it.

Vancouver fans got press early this year for the “Green Men” two fans that dressed in green spandex and mocked players from the opposition when they got penalties. Hockey needs more fans like these that want to have a good time and have some fun. Perhaps one fan took this idea a little to far when she flashed Ben Eager, (it’s one thing to do it on a street with mostly adults around then in an arena on national tv with little kids watching) but it was all just good natured fun.

The fans at home games would wave their white towels dubbed “Towel Power” a tradition that started in 1982 when then coach Roger Neilson tied a white towel to the end of a stick to mock the referees after what he felt was a poor performance.

Looking away from the riot aspect for a minute you could say that Vancouver’s tradition is to mock opponents.

Turning back to the riot aspect it’s not fair to blame this on the fans of Vancouver solely but had the 18,000+ fans from the game combined with the majority of the fans outside to condemn and not encourage the rioters things would not have gotten out of hand.

With two riots after two game 7 loses instead of us recognizing Vancouver as playful mockers we have to recognize that Vancouver’s playoff tradition is that of sore losers and we only hope that they can learn to lose gracefully and if they win are able to be humble victors too.

Winnipeg Jets

We’re talking about traditions here so the only reference that is relevant to NHL playoffs is the Winnipeg Jets franchise.

It all started when Winnipeg played Calgary in the playoffs of ’87. Calgary had their C of Red and fans were asked to wear white to answer back and the White Out was born. Fans would go all out dressing in painters suits, painting their faces and bodies, while screaming at the top of their lungs. The building would get so loud that the phrase “White Noise” was born when the decibel level would get so loud it would be compared to that of a jet engine or a nuclear submarine.

It’s a tradition that will be reborn with the new franchise after True North trademarked the term “Whiteout” for their use and is something that this site promises to promote as well. What will happen now that Winnipeg’s arena is downtown close to the Forks and Portage and Main if/when the Winnipeg team reaches a Stanley Cup final? There can only be speculation at this point but the large crowds that have gathered recently to celebrate the return of the NHL to Winnipeg have not broken out into violence or nudity or destruction.

Winnipeggers have taken to the street and done what Winnipeggers do best, they played street hockey. They chanted “Go Jets Go” and “We want Teemu” and sang “O’ Canada”

It’s hard to say that this will be the reaction if Winnipeg were ever to be in a Game 7 situation for the Stanley Cup and lose but I find it hard to believe that Winnipeg would riot. Winnipeggers look for any reason to celebrate and any reason to watch hockey so I feel that if and when that time comes that Winnipeg will do what Winnipeg has always done. They’ll party like there’s no tomorrow and the “White Mile” will be born stretching from the MTS Centre, down Portage to Main St and all the way down to the Forks.

Because Winnipeg’s tradition is having fun no matter what, we wear white we make white noise and we have fun and that is a great tradition to continue!

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Jeff Stevenson is a co-founder of and co-host of the popular Jets Hockey Podcast. He grew up in Winnipeg, MB and became very passionate about sports, hockey and the Jets. Now Jeff is proud and honored to help bring news and information about the Winnipeg Jets to fans around the world.