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The Olympic Stanley Cup: Montreal 1977, Calgary 1989, Vancouver 2011?

23 March 2011
montreal summer olympics 1976
montreal canadians stanley cup 1977
calgary winter olympics 1988
calgary flames stanley cup 1989
vancouver winter olympics 2010

A coworker shared an interesting bit of NHL trivia with me last month. Every time a Canadian city has hosted the Olympics, it has won the Stanley Cup the following year. Personally I think this trend would be similar to flipping a coin twice on the moon, landing heads both times, and then claiming that a coin always lands on heads on the moon. Of course the math isn’t that simple for winning a Stanley Cup since the probabilily of a Canadian team winning is far less than 1/2… but I think it’s the same principle. Just look at the flipside argument: does this theory explain why Canadian teams have won the Stanley cup when the Olympics were not hosted in the previous year? Didn’t think so! (Disclaimer: I don’t believe in this theory but I may have to change this post given how the Vancouver Canucks have been playing this year)

The “trend” got me thinking of some questions. If this theory were to be true, what would be some causes?

  • Were Canadian fans more enthusiastic and provided a cheerleader effect for the Olympic host city?
  • Were Canadian players on the Olympics host city more motivated to win the Cup after witnessing the Olympic Games on home soil?

If the Canadian players were the reason for the wins in 1977 and 1989, it doesn’t mean the same thing would happen this year in 2011. The nationality composition of the NHL has changed drastically from its beginnings. A sheet of ice once shared by a bunch of Canadian kids is now shared with Americans, Scandinavians, Russians and other Eastern Europeans. I still have my doubts, but only time will tell if the Olympic-Stanley Cup Theory is true. In the meantime, take a look to see how the face of the NHL has changed over the past century in the next couple of pages. Enjoy!

I’ve divided the NHL nationalities into the following groups for simplicity:

  • Canada
  • USA
  • USSR (includes Soviet Union and Eastern Block states like Czechoslovakia)
  • Scandinavia (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark)

I am assuming the hockey player’s place of birth is where they were also raised. You could have a case where a Canadian moved to America, and vice versa, but we’ll assume that is uncommon.

NHL Player Origin

Canada has been the major source for NHL players for the past 100 years, although currently it sits at a stable 54%. The Americans have made some recent gains at the expense of the Russians.

Check out the next 4 pages to see some interesting trends over the years



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