Get over it, Leaf fans

MIKE STROBEL -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

For years, Ottawa has been beating us over the head with taxes. Now they've got sticks

-- Anonymous

The Stanley Cup final begins on Monday. If they hurry, it might be over by Canada Day.

The (Mighty) Ducks of America meet the Senators of Ottawa.

The Sens want us to take them to our bosoms as Canada's Team.

Easy for them to say.

Repeat "Ottawa" three times fast. See? Your stomach jumps. Hairs rise on your neck. Instinctively, you check your wallet.

"Ottawa" is a metonymy, like The Crown, or Queen's Park, or the Oilpatch, or Bay Street, or Mordor.

The word is not just a city, but a force in our lives. An invasive and sometimes sinister one.

Is this fair? The dilemma tears even Sunsters asunder. Our Mark Bonokoski has an Ottawa jersey hanging in his office, for crying out loud.

On the other hand, Edmonton Sun colleague Kerry Diotte sends best wishes from the West: Screw the Sens.

But surely, we can't root for the Ducks? Somehow we must overcome 140 years of loathing, hold our noses and cheer for Ottawa.

Here are some tips:

1. Close Your Eyes and Think of England. Like you do whenever Ottawa screws you.

Remember, were it not for Queen Victoria stabbing her hatpin into a map of Canada (so the story goes) then Ottawa would still be a sleepy, out-of-the-way hamlet.

Oh, wait, it still is.

2. Enrol in Berlitz. The captain of Canada's team, Daniel Alfredsson, is Danish. Or is it Norwegian? No, Swedish.

Learn how to yell "Skol, Sens, Skol!"

Or, "Lycka till!" which Alfie will recognize as "Good luck!"

3. Learn French While You're at It. O Canada is sung the bilingual way at Scotiabank Place. This is no surprise since the capital area is one third francophone.

Memorize: Ton histoire est une epopee

Des plus brillants exploits

So you can sing along in your living room. I hope the Scotiabank throng matches the vocal magic of Edmonton fans last year.

4. Go to Hull. It has been absorbed by La Mega Ville, Gatineau, but Hull is still Ottawa's party side.

If memory serves, Gatineau Park just up the road is where I lost my virginity. If you find it, please call the number below.

By the time you stagger back across the Chaudiere Bridge after last call at 3 a.m., you'll be willing to cheer for anybody.

5. Drink Lots of Water. Fans in Calgary or Toronto or St. John's who travel to the capital to support Canada's Team are in for a meteorological jolt.

There is no muggier place in the country than Ottawa.

Good news for pilgrims from Winnipeg, though. The mosquitoes will make you feel right at home.

6. Forget Bill Barilko. Know Who Frank Finnigan Was.

Aka the Shawville Express, he scored the last goal for the old Senators before they moved to St. Louis in 1934. The street in front of Scotiabank Centre is named for him.

You should know this not just to make you a Sens' fan but to fit in with the locals. They are trivia fiends and hold an annual world championship.

Ottawa is home to the Trivia Hall of Fame. Why is this no surprise?

7. Change Your Wardrobe. Pack away the blue, the colour of loyalty, dreamers, longing, cold and Maple Leafs.

I hope you look good in red, the colour of love, hate, fire, blood, danger, sex and the Senators.

8. Change Phallic Symbols. The CN Tower is 553.33 metres high and built for winds up to 418 km/h. The Peace Tower is 92.2 metres and must endure far greater bluster.

9. Check Your Spellings. For now, it's the Queensway, not the Queen Elizabeth Way.

And when the Senators insist they have always been Kanata's Team, they're not just being cocky.

10. Count Stanley Cups. Think this is Ottawa's first shot at hockey glory? Not even close. The Senators have won 10 cups, sometimes as The Silver Seven.

Here's a shocker. If the Sens win this series, they will be tied with the Leafs all-time.

(Go, Ducks, go?!)


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