We all fell in love with the Jamaican bobsled team during Calgary ’88 (or retroactively from 1993’s Cool Runnings). John Candy taught us where washed-up Olympic cheats go to hide in shame, and we laughed at Doug E. Doug’s explanation that sub-zero exhaled breath was not a strand of marijuana.
In 1976, Montréal hosted the Summer Olympics. Though these Games failed to produce a commercially successful film adaptation, I do know that American Bruce Jenner (gold medal, decathlon) appeared in an episode of CHiPS.
Prior to Vancouver 2010, the previous two Olympics hosted by Canadian cities yielded a Stanley Cup championship for the home team almost immediately.
In the NHL season that followed Jenner’s supremacy of 10 track and field events (I call it the “Jen-ten”), the powerhouse Montréal Canadiens set league records in wins (58) and points (127), and captured the first of what would be a four-peat of Stanley Cup titles.
Since the 1988 Winter Olympics occurred during February, the next NHL regular season began in October of that year, culminating with a Calgary Flames’ victory over the Canadiens the following May. It still stands as the last time two Canadian teams faced-off for the Stanley Cup.
A year removed from Canada’s latest turn in hosting the world, and almost a full NHL season in the books, the Vancouver Canucks are approaching the playoffs in an eerily similar scenario. With five games to play, the first-place Canucks hold a 9-point advantage over Philadelphia. Barring a complete collapse, Vancouver is poised to become regular season champions for the first time in their 40-year history.
The 1988-‘89 Flames and ’76-’77 Canadiens were also tops in the NHL during their respective seasons.
While the hardest test is yet to come, the strangeness in similarities is enough to inspire hope in the NHL magic that the Olympics bring to a Canadian city. 9 years ago, we celebrated as a nation when the Men’s hockey team ended a 50-year-old gold-medal drought at the Winter Olympics. Last February, the world watched as Canada rejoiced a golden goal on home ice. In the coming 10 weeks, we’ll find out if there is any validity to my prophecy, or merely just a silly sports coincidence.
Canada and Jamaica share a rich history of mutual sport love: