April 20, 2016 | By Craig Kafura

This Year, the Chicago Blackhawks are Canada’s Team

For the first time since 1970, no Canadian hockey team made it to the NHL playoffs. The absence of Canadian teams from this season’s NHL playoffs has sparked some debate and discussion about the state of Canadian hockey. It also follows a longer trend away from Canadian dominance of the game: the Stanley Cup hasn’t resided in Canada since the Canadiens won it in 1993, something President Obama reminded visiting PM Trudeau about last month.
 
So, in the absence of a Canadian team, who will Canadians cheer for in the playoffs? The answer is the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks: nearly half of Canadians (46%) said they plan to back the Hawks in the Western Conference. In the East, a quarter of Canadians were ready to cheer for the Bruins—but the Bruins late-season collapse will force those fans to look elsewhere.
 

Source: Angus Reid Institute
 
As a Chicagoan, I don’t deny that the Blackhawks are a great team to cheer for. They’ve brought the city three Stanley Cups in the last six seasons, an achievement a number of commentators (and the commissioner) have labeled a dynasty. But I live in Chicago. So why are Canadians cheering for the Blackhawks?
 
It’s not because they have the most Canadian players on the roster: that spot falls to Chicago’s first-round opponent, the St. Louis Blues, who boast sixteen Canadians. The Blackhawks have ten, putting them in the lower range of playoff teams.
 
But there is definitely a local flavor to some Canadians’ support for Chicago. While the Blackhawks support is generally evenly-distributed across Canada, Manitoba is an exception: two-thirds of Manitobans say they’ll be cheering for Chicago in the Western Conference this year. That’s likely because the Blackhawks are captained by Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews. Not only did Toews bring the cup home this past summer, he was recently awarded the province’s highest honor, the Order of Manitoba. And Toews isn’t the only Manitoban on the roster: he’s joined by 2015 Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith and trade deadline acquisition Dale Weise.
 
Chicago and Canada also have other close ties. There are roughly 200 Canadian companies in the Chicagoland area, and nearly as many Chicago companies in Canada. Chicago also hosts a Canadian consulate and has been Sister Cities with Toronto since 1991. And, of course, the current US ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, is a noted Blackhawks fan.
 
Hopefully the combined cheers of Canadians and Chicagoans alike will carry the Hawks to another Stanley Cup win this June. 

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

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