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   September 18, 2014



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The Canadiens are the Daniel Bryan of the NHL Playoffs
By MATTHEW BYER - SLAM! Wrestling


Should this be the poster on the wall in the Canadiens' dressing room? Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

With the elimination of the Maple Leafs, Senators, and Canucks, NHL fans are left for the first time since 1973 with only one Canadian NHL team in the National Hockey League playoffs: the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs were also the last Canadian team to bring home the Stanley Cup, in 1993. Are there parallels between Montreal and the WWE? A hearty Yes!

Looking at the Canadiens chances in the days ahead -- they will be facing the Tampa Bay Lightning -- it's hard not to hear people talking about the team's skill and talent. But the knock against them is that compared to the clubs that are seen as Stanley Cup favourites -- the Bruins, the Blues, Ducks, Kings, and the defending champion Blackhawks, -- they are too small and lacking in toughness.

Now what recently crowned WWE World Heavyweight Champion is that reminiscent of?

Yes, it's Daniel Bryan, who has had many of those same doubts hurled his way.

There is little question that WWE Managementís reluctance to go with Bryan as the face of the company for the last year is because he was seen as being too small and not the toughest wrestler on the roster. Yet Bryan has proven to have had a tenacity and a will which has captured the hearts and minds of wrestling fans worldwide until WWE management was left with no choice but to give him a chance as the flag bearer for the company.


Thus, it is highly likely that the decision to allow Bryan to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXX was borne out of the fact that wrestling fans continued to support him en masse and not switch their allegiance to other wrestlers that WWE management may have preferred more.

What is surprising is there may end up being a similar phenomenon that occurs with the Canadiens in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

While National Hockey League results are not supposed to be pre-determined (see last year's Are the NHL playoffs a work like wrestling?), there have been quite a bit of questionable refereeing and league decisions against Canadian NHL teams during the playoffs over the last two decades.

Now with the Canadiens being the only Canadian team to qualify for the playoffs, the spotlight in Canada is going to be even more focused on the team because they are essentially the only hope for the country to win the Stanley Cup. As a result, the media focus on the refereeing and the league decisions during Montreal's playoff games will likely be scrutinized like never before and if something untoward happens the apologists who in past years have excused this behaviour will be buried by criticism never seen before. Such criticism may reach such heights that it cannot be ignored by the NHL management and force them to actually allow Canadiens playoff games to be fairly contested.

The reason that this has a high likelihood of occurring is due to the fact that ratings and interest in the NHL playoffs will almost certainly drop off should the Canadiens be eliminated due to biased refereeing or NHL decisions. As well, the networks in Canada will have a vested interest to ensure that this doesn't occur because the NHL playoff revenues would take a significant hit. Additionally, should such a thing happen the NHL may find itself besieged by already unhappy Canadian fans, who have had to witness the other Canadian NHL teams not qualify for the playoffs, and that have finally had enough with any hope of the Stanley Cup ever being won again by a team on Canadian soil being constantly dashed due to questionable nonsense. There is a limit and this yearís NHL playoffs could be a real flashpoint for the Canadian networks, media, and fans. (Then again, much of Canada hates the Habs.)

As for the Montreal Canadiens, looking to Daniel Bryan for inspiration because of the struggles he has had to go through both behind the scenes and in the ring in their quest to win the Stanley Cup is something they may want to consider. What Bryan has achieved in what admittedly has always been seen as a big man's sport is remarkable and speaks admirably to his determination and perseverance. Those are certainly traits that any Stanley Cup champion has needed to have and Bryan is an illustration of what can occur if you keep at it and refuse to give in even when so many are against you.

RELATED LINKS

  • Previous Mat Matters Editorial columns

    Be sure to check out Matthew's fictional novel Finding My Way Through Life's Follies along with a free preview here and also Matthew's collection of poetry Mustard Marinade Poetry along with a free preview here.