Will Canada’s Stanley Cup Drought Continue?

Technically the NHL’s inaugural season, started in December 1917. Which means that we are wrapping up the 106th NHL season. During this time, Canadian-based teams have won the Stanley Cup 49 times. Yet a Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993. That is 31 years. The longest drought in which a US-based team did not win a Stanley Cup is nine years. Canadian hockey fans are due.

The drought of a Canadian-based NHL team winning the Stanley Cup has now reached: 31 years. The Edmonton Oilers are close as they made the NHL’s 2023-24 Stanley Cup Final but even the mighty Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have yet to bring hockey’s Holy Grail north of the border for the first time since 1993. Could that change this year?

Champions of the Ice: Canadian Stanley Cup Champions

As we await the start of the start of the Cup finals between the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers, let’s start by taking a deep dive into Canadian teams who have won the Stanley Cup. As we all know, the Stanley Cup is the zenith of professional ice hockey, with historically Canadian-based teams becoming Stanley Cup champions. We will look at the Canadian teams that have triumphed in the Stanley Cup, the obstacles they’ve overcome, and why a Canadian-based team has not secured a Stanley Cup victory since 1993. We’ll also take a look at Canada’s prospects for future Stanley Cup glory.

The Stanley Cup and Canada’s Storied History

The Stanley Cup, sports most prestigious trophy is annually awarded to the National Hockey League (NHL) playoff winner, has a long and storied history dating back to 1893. The Cup has deep roots in Canadian hockey and holds a place of immense significance in Canada’s sporting landscape. Originally, it was a gift from Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley, the Governor General of Canada, meant for Canada’s top amateur hockey team. Lord Stanley decided to donate a silver cup to be awarded to the best hockey team in Canada. However as the sport grew in popularity, the Cup evolved into a symbol of professional championship glory for the National Hockey League (NHL). The Stanley Cup was indeed meant to be presented to the best hockey team in Canada.

Canadian teams have left an indelible mark on Stanley Cup history. Since the NHL’s inception in 1917, Canadian Stanley Cup champions have hoisted the trophy a whopping 61 times. The Montreal Canadiens lead the pack with an astounding 24 championships, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs with 13 titles. Other successful Canadian Stanley Cup winners include the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and the Ottawa Senators.

Team# of ChampionshipsYears Won
Montreal Canadiens231924, 1930,31, 1944, 46,1953, 56,57,58,59, 1960,
65,66, 68,69, 1971,73, 76,77,78,79, 1986, 1993
Toronto Maple Leafs*131932, 1942, 45,47,48,49, 1951, 1962, 63,64,67
Edmonton Oilers51984,1985,1987,1988,1990
Ottawa Senators41920, 1921,1923,1927
Montreal Maroons21926, 1935
Victoria Cougars11925
Toronto St. Pats11922
Toronto Arenas11918
Seattle Metropolitans11917
*Leafs were previously the St. Pats and the Toronto Arenas

It should be mentioned that the Stanley Cup was awarded prior to the existence of the National Hockey League with the earliest record of being presented in 1893. In those days teams could challenge for the Stanley Cup so you could potentially have multiple Stanley Cup winners in a single season.

List of Canadian Stanley Cup Champions Prior to NHL

Here is a list of the Canadian teams that won the Stanley Cup prior to the formation of the National Hockey League.

Team# of ChampionshipsYears Won
Montreal Victorias51895, 96, 97, 98, 99
Ottawa Silver Seven41903, 04, 05, 06
Montreal Wanderers41906, 07, 08, 1910
Montreal AAA41893, 94, 1902, 03
Winnipeg Victorias31896, 1901, 02
Ottawa Senators31909, 1910, 11
Quebec Bulldogs21912, 1913
Montreal Shamrocks21899, 1900
Kenora Thistles11907
Toronto Blueshirts11914
Vancouver Millionaires11915
Montreal Canadiens11916

Winnipeg Victorias Hockey Club 1899 (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Being a Stanley Cup winner is a matter of immense pride, uniting fans across the nation and inspiring future generations of hockey players.

Canadian Stanley Cup Champions: A Legacy of Triumph

Prior to the turn of the century, Canadian teams have made a lasting impact on the Stanley Cup. From the dominance of the Montreal Canadiens to the near-misses of the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks, every Canadian Stanley Cup victory has been a moment to remember. In more recent years it has been the game seven losses by Canadian teams in the Cup finals that has most people starting to believe there is a curse or a conspiracy theory as to why a Canadian-based team has not won the Holy Grail of hockey.

The Montreal Canadiens, were the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup in 1993. Les Habitants have won the Cup multiple times and boast an unparalleled 24 championships (albeit with the majority of those in a six-team league). The Edmonton Oilers, led by hockey legends like Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Mark Messier, ruled the 1980s, winning five championships in seven years. The Calgary Flames clinched their lone Stanley Cup victory in 1989, while the Toronto Maple Leafs have 13 victories, but as we all know have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.

Despite their moments of glory, the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks have yet to join the ranks of Stanley Cup champions. The Winnipeg Jets 1.0 and Quebec Nordiques, though currently relocated, have made significant contributions to Canadian hockey despite not having a Stanley Cup to their name.

From 1893 through to 1916, the Stanley Cup was awarded to Canadian teams. Then from 1918 through to 1927 the Cup was awarded solely to Canadian teams. Had Chicago not won the Stanley Cup in 1961, the Cup was awarded to wither the Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs from 1956 through to 1970. From 1984 through to 1990, the Stanley Cup was owned by the Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames.

Image courtesy the Edmonton Journal

Challenges Faced by Canadian Teams Becoming Stanley Cup Champions

In today’s NHL, becoming a Stanley Cup winner is no easy task, and Canadian teams in the NHL face unique challenges. These include the influence of the salary cap, competition with American teams, the pressure of the recent lack of success by Canadian-based teams, and issues related to player development and retention on Canadian teams. There are a couple of key reasons why Canadian teams have not won a Cup in thirty years.

Salary Cap Era: The salary cap, which limits the amount teams can spend on player salaries, poses a significant challenge, especially for smaller-market teams, a number of which reside in Canada. Couple that with the fact that many US-born players prefer to play in their native United States, Canadian teams face obstacles that many of their US counterpart don’t.

Expansion Era: Competition with American teams can also make it difficult to attract top talent. The last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 when there were only 24 NHL teams with eight teams existing in Canada. Canadian teams represented 33% of the league’s teams, today they represent about 22%.

Game Seven Curse: Canadian-based teams have pushed their opponents to a deciding seventh game on four occasions since 1993:

  • 1994: The Vancouver Canucks lost in seven games to the New York Rangers
  • 2004: The Calgary Flames lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay lightning
  • 2006: The Edmonton Oilers lost in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes
  • 2011: The Vancouver Canucks lost in seven games to the Boston Bruins.

In fact since 1993, Canadian-based teams have only made the Stanley Cup Finals six occasions.  Despite these hurdles, Canadian teams continue their quest for the Cup, determined to bring the championship back to Canada.

Remembering Canadian Stanley Cup Wins

Canadian Stanley Cup victories have left a trail of memorable moments and unforgettable performances. The Montreal Canadiens’ victory in 1979, led by legendary goaltender Ken Dryden, and their triumph against the Los Angeles Kings in 1993 are among the most iconic moments in the history of Canadian Stanley Cup winners. Many young hockey fans in Canada were not even born the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup. Think about that, since Connor McDavid has been alive he has never witnessed a Stanley Cup winning team be from Canada. A whole generation of NHL players and hockey fans alike have never experienced the Stanley Cup being won by a Canadian team. It just doesn’t seem right does it?

Stanley Cup victories are about more than just the teams that become champions. They’re also about the fans’ shared experiences and emotions. From goal celebrations to passionate chants and the sea of jerseys worn by fans, the Canadian hockey culture is truly unique. The Stanley Cup playoffs foster a sense of unity and national pride that extends far beyond the ice rink, celebrating the country’s deep love for the game and the enduring legacy of hockey in Canada. Canadian hockey fans are a passionate bunch. Just look at what we saw in Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Edmonton this Spring.

Canada is known for producing talented hockey players, and there’s a lot to look forward to from Canadian teams in the NHL. Stars like Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs offer promising prospects for future Canadian Stanley Cup champions. However, the chances of a Canadian team becoming the next Stanley Cup winner aren’t solely reliant on individual players. Factors such as the fierce competition and parity of the NHL, also plays a key role in the ability of a Canadian team to win the Cup.

You have to think that the drought will end soon as the future looks promising for Canadian teams in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup. With talented young players, fervent fans, and the potential influence of expansion teams with watered-down talent, Canadian franchises are on solid footing. The Oilers, Leafs, Jets and Canucks all seem like the best bet to bring the Stanley Cup back home to Canada. Then again up and coming teams like the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens could also bring home the Cup. Thr question is but when?

When will a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup?

As Canada eagerly awaits its next Stanley Cup victory, the continued support and passion for the country’s teams remain strong. Despite the recent drought in Canadian Stanley Cup victories, hopes for future wins remain undiminished.

But when will a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup?

It’s a good question. Teams like the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets are knocking on the door. Teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks are showing prominence but still need to overcome a few obstacles. Young teams like the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens are posed to take steps in the right direction. The Calgary Flames are a few pieces of way so you never know. Further expansion simply lowers the odds of a Caandian-based team winning it all.

Perhaps it’s time for a playoff format shift to ensure that a Canadian-based team makes the final four every year? Others say that perhaps with the imminent retirement of Gary Bettman (who has actually been a supporter of Canadian teams) Canadian teams will be in a better place to win. One thing is for sure, it is difficult to win the Stanley Cup. Parity in the league is at an all-time high. It’s a grueling, two month tournament. It’s the hardest team sport to win a championship.

A Canadian team should have won a Stanley Cup since 1993. The NHL needs to make this happen. Realignment? Different playoff format? What ever the solution is, hockey fans north of the border are long overdue. The time is right. The game’s greatest player in Connor McDavid is more than deserving to become a Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe Winner as playoff MVP.

Canadian fans are known for their unwavering dedication to their teams. Cities like Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are home to some of the world’s most passionate hockey fans. Regardless of their teams’ performance, fans continue to show unwavering support year after year.

While it has been three decades since a Canadian team last won the Stanley Cup, the desire for victory has not diminished. As each new NHL season begins, hopes are reignited and dreams of a Canadian team reclaiming hockey’s ultimate prize are revived. With skilled players, dedicated coaches, and loyal fans driving the pursuit of the Cup, it’s only a matter of time before the Cup returns to Canadian soil. Perhaps the stars will align as Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers complete their quest and capture the Stanley Cup.

List of All-Time Stanley Cup Champions

Here is a list of the all-time Stanley Cup Champions.

2023: Vegas Golden Knights, Coach Bruce Cassidy
2022: Colorado Avalanche, Coach Jared Bednar
2021: Tampa Bay Lightning, Coach Jon Cooper
2020: Tampa Bay Lightning, Coach Jon Cooper

2019: St. Louis Blues, Coach Craig Berube
2018: Washington Capitals, Coach Barry Trotz
2017: Pittsburgh Penguins, Coach Mike Sullivan
2016: Pittsburgh Penguins, Coach Mike Sullivan
2015: Chicago Blackhawks, Coach Joel Quenneville
2014: Los Angeles Kings, Coach Darryl Sutter
2013: Chicago Blackhawks, Coach Joel Quenneville
2012: Los Angeles Kings, Coach Darryl Sutter
2011: Boston Bruins, Coach Claude Julien
2010: Chicago Blackhawks, Coach Joel Quenneville

2009: Pittsburgh Penguins, Coach Dan Bylsma
2008: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Mike Babcock
2007: Anaheim Ducks, Coach Randy Carlyle
2006: Carolina Hurricanes, Coach Peter Laviolette
2005: n/a
2004: Tampa Bay Lightning, Coach John Tortorella
2003: New Jersey Devils, Coach Pat Burns
2002: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Scotty Bowman
2001: Colorado Avalanche, Coach Bob Hartley
2000: New Jersey Devils, Coach Larry Robinson

1999: Dallas Stars, Coach Ken Hitchcock
1998: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Scotty Bowman
1997: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Scotty Bowman
1996: Colorado Avalanche, Coach Marc Crawford
1995: New Jersey Devils, Coach Jacques Lemaire
1994: New York Rangers, Coach Mike Keenan
1993: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Jacques Demers
1992: Pittsburgh Penguins, Coach Scotty Bowman
1991: Pittsburgh Penguins, Coach Bob Johnson
1990: Edmonton Oilers, Coach John Muckler

1989: Calgary Flames, Coach Terry Crisp
1988: Edmonton Oilers, Coach Glen Sather
1987: Edmonton Oilers, Coach Glen Sather
1986: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Jean Perron
1985: Edmonton Oilers, Coach Glen Sather
1984: Edmonton Oilers, Coach Glen Sather
1983: New York Islanders, Coach Al Arbour
1982: New York Islanders, Coach Al Arbour
1981: New York Islanders, Coach Al Arbour
1980: New York Islanders, Coach Al Arbour

1979: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Scotty Bowman
1978: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Scotty Bowman
1977: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Scotty Bowman
1976: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Scotty Bowman
1975: Philadelphia Flyers, Coach Fred Shero
1974: Philadelphia Flyers, Coach Fred Shero
1973: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Scotty Bowman
1972: Boston Bruins, Coach Tom Johnson
1971: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Al MacNeil
1970: Boston Bruins, Coach Harry Sinden

1969: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Claude Ruel
1968: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Toe Blake
1967: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Punch Imlach
1966: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Toe Blake
1965: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Toe Blake
1964: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Punch Imlach
1963: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Punch Imlach
1962: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Punch Imlach
1961: Chicago Black Hawks, Coach Rudy Pilous
1960: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Toe Blake

1959: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Toe Blake
1958: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Toe Blake
1957: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Toe Blake
1956: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Toe Blake
1955: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Jimmy Skinner
1954: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Tommy Ivan
1953: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Dick Irvin
1952: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Tommy Ivan
1951: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Joe Primeau
1950: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Tommy Ivan

1949: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Hap Day
1948: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Hap Day
1947: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Hap Day
1946: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Dick Irvin
1945: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Hap Day
1944: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Dick Irvin
1943: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Jack Adams
1942: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Hap Day
1941: Boston Bruins, Coach Cooney Weiland
1940: New York Rangers, Coach Frank Boucher

1939: Boston Bruins, Coach Art Ross
1938: Chicago Black Hawks, Coach Bill Stewart
1937: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Jack Adams
1936: Detroit Red Wings, Coach Jack Adams
1935: Montreal Maroons, Coach Tommy Gorman
1934: Chicago Black Hawks, Coach Tommy Gorman
1933: New York Rangers, Coach Lester Patrick
1932: Toronto Maple Leafs, Coach Dick Irvin
1931: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Cecil Hart
1930: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Cecil Hart

1929: Boston Bruins, Coach Art Ross
1928: New York Rangers, Coach Lester Patrick
1927: Ottawa Senators, Coach George Gill

The NHL assumed control of Stanley Cup competition after the 1925-26 season

  • 1926: Montreal Maroons, Coach Eddie Gerard
  • 1925: Victoria Cougars, Coach Lester Patrick
  • 1924: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Leo Dandurand
  • 1923: Ottawa Senators, Coach Pete Green
  • 1922: Toronto St. Pats, Coach George O’Donoghue
  • 1921: Ottawa Senators, Coach Pete Green
  • 1920: Ottawa Senators, Coach Pete Green
  • 1919: No decision; series between Montreal and Seattle tied 2-2; canceled because of influenza epidemic
  • 1918: Toronto Arenas, Coach Dick Carroll
  • 1917: Seattle Metropolitans, Coach Pete Muldoon
  • 1916: Montreal Canadiens, Coach Newsy Lalonde
  • 1915: Vancouver Millionaires, Coach Frank Patrick
  • 1914: Toronto Blueshirts, Coach Scotty Davidson
  • 1913: Quebec Bulldogs, Joe Malone (Captain)
  • 1912: Quebec Bulldogs, Coach Mike Quinn
  • 1911: Ottawa Senators, Bruce Stuart (Captain)
  • 1910: Montreal Wanderers, Pud Glass (Captain)
    • Ottawa Senators, Bruce Stuart (Captain)
  • 1909: Ottawa Senators, Bruce Stuart (Captain)
  • 1908: Montreal Wanderers, Coach Cecil Blachford
  • 1907: Montreal Wanderers, Coach Cecil Blachford
    • Kenora Thistles, Tommy Phillips (Captain)
  • 1906: Montreal Wanderers, Cecil Blachford (Captain)
    • Ottawa Silver Seven, A.T. Smith (Manager)
  • 1905: Ottawa Silver Seven, A.T. Smith (Manager)
  • 1904: Ottawa Silver Seven, A.T. Smith (Manager)
  • 1903: Ottawa Silver Seven, A.T. Smith (Manager)
    • Montreal AAA, Coach Clare McKerrow
  • 1902: Montreal AAA, Coach Clare McKerrow
    • Winnipeg Victorias
  • 1901: Winnipeg Victorias, Dan Bain (Captain)
  • 1900: Montreal Shamrocks, Harry Trihey (Captain)
  • 1899: Montreal Shamrocks
    • Montreal Victorias, Harry Trihey (Captain)
  • 1898: Montreal Victorias, Frank Richardson (Manager)
  • 1897: Montreal Victorias, Mike Grant (Captain)
  • 1896: Montreal Victorias, Mike Grant (Captain)
    • Winnipeg Victorias, Jack Armytage (Manager)
  • 1895: Montreal Victorias, Mike Grant (Captain)
  • 1894: Montreal AAA
  • 1893: Montreal AAA