Although the Vancouver Canucks may have ended the regular season with the NHL’s best record – ranked first in goals per game (3.15 GPG) and goals against (2.20 GAA) while leading in power play percentage (24.3%) – there’s another statistic that could be helping their quest for a first Stanley Cup in 40 years. The Olympics in Canada seems to be an omen, one that has brought luck in the past to two other cities.
In 1976 Montreal hosted the Summer Games. They were the first Olympics held in Canada, with the host country earning only 11 medals (five silver and six bronze) in canoeing, equestrian, swimming and track and field. Despite this lack of success in medal counts, the presence of the Games in the city seemed to have brought good luck to the Canadiens. On May 14, 1977, a year after hosting the Games, the Habs swept the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup.
Not that unusual really; the 1977 Cup was actually the second of four straight championships Montreal won.
However in 1988, the Winter Games were held in Calgary and the coincidence re-occurred. The Canadian city had first tried to win a bid for the Olympics in 1964 and again in 1968, but had lost to Innsbruck, Austria and Grenoble, France respectively. Finally, on Sept. 30, 1981, Calgary won the bid for the 1988 Games but ended only winning a total of five medals (two silver and three bronze) in alpine skiing and figure skating.
Meanwhile in the NHL, the Flames were starting to show great success, finishing the previous season with 105 points and first place in the Smythe Division, yet losing to the Oilers in the Division Finals. They picked up where they left off at the beginning of the 1988-89 season, with veteran captain Lanny McDonald leading the team to 117 points total and another first place finish. They met the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals, where McDonald hoisted the Cup for the first time on May 25, 1989, sure enough a year following the Games in Calgary!
Was it destined for Calgary to lose the bids twice before and finally win for the 1988 Games? Had the omen help the Flames’ dream to become reality?
Now the focus shifts to Vancouver. Just over a year ago, the city erupted in celebration when it hosted the 2010 Games. Canada finished with an impressive count of 26 medals (14 gold, seven silver and five bronze), with gold medals in both Men’s and Women’s hockey.
While the country shattered the record in number of gold medals won by an Olympic host nation, the omen doesn’t include the lack or abundance of success at the Games, only its location. The fact Canada did so well didn’t seem to affect the omen; the Canucks ranked first at the start of the post-season with 117 points, and so far they’ve made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Roberto Luongo, who participated in the Games and won the gold medal, has put the national success aside, especially now that he is facing his Olympic teammate Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. Vancouver was proud to play host to the Olympic victory of Canadian hockey, but now the city has the chance to celebrate its own Stanley Cup.
If Vancouver brings home the Cup, it will be the third time in Canadian history that an Olympic host city wins the ultimate NHL prize the following year.
Maybe the Maple Leafs will need to achieve the same ‘prophecy’ to convince you about the omen. Toronto is rumored to have begun working on a potential bid for the 2020 or 2024 games as of July 10, 2007. This would be Toronto’s third bid for the Summer Olympics, after being unsuccessful for the 1996 and 2008 games. The omen possibly needs to see the Leafs improve for Toronto to win a bid as a future Olympic location.
After all, if the Olympic omen strikes a third time, maybe Edmonton and Ottawa will start bidding too.