The Chicago Cubs won the World Series on Wednesday night, their first since 1908, snapping a 108-year championship drought, the longest by any team in North American professional sports history. Back in June, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, snapping a 52-year drought for a city with three major pro sports teams. So what’s next on the drought-busting checklist?
Sure, there are a few teams and few cities still struggling. The NBA’s Sacramento Kings organization has not won a title in 65 years and never since their move to California. Wednesday night’s losers, the Cleveland Indians, haven’t taken home the hardware in 68 years. Ten NFL teams still have yet to win it all in the Super Bowl era. Yet, with the Cubs and Cleveland off the books, it seems like there’s a void in the championship drought department right now.
It’s time that attention turns not to any one team or city, but to the country of Canada. Canadian teams have combined to go 199 straight seasons without winning a major North American title. In 1993, the country was championship central, with both the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Blue Jays winning their respective leagues. Since? Nothing.
It’s been 23 years now for the Blue Jays since they were MLB champs. They have come close over the years, but have failed to even take home an American League pennant. Playing in a division that has been one of the strongest in baseball over the past decade plus, which has housed four New York Yankees championship teams and three Boston Red Sox championship teams since 1993, it’s been an uphill battle for the Blue Jays. Meanwhile, the Montreal Expos, title-less since their inception in 1969, were forced to relocate to Washington, D.C. in 2004 (where the drought continues to this day).
The Toronto Raptors are still seeking that elusive NBA championship. It’s been 21 years since the Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies brought pro basketball to Canada in 1995, and neither team has been able to get it done. The Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2000, where they too have yet to find glory. In a league that is unquestionably the most competitively unbalanced, a Raptors team with a lot of talent are still annual underdogs against the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and other Western Conference powerhouses.
Of course, the biggest drought-magnifier is the NHL. With seven teams competing in a 30-team league, Canada should have close to a 25% chance to win the Stanley Cup every season. Alas, no such feat has been accomplished in 23 seasons. The odds of that happening: less than 1%. The Toronto Maple Leafs are tied with the St. Louis Blues for the longest championship drought in the league at 48 years. The Vancouver Canucks, established in 1970, have never won the Cup. After Alberta went back-to-back in 1989 and 1990, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers have not won since. The Ottawa Senators, the 1992 NHL expansion team, has also never gotten it done, and their first season, 1992-93, was the first and last time that they even saw a Canadian champ, with Montreal taking the crown. Both iterations of the Winnipeg Jets are also without a Stanley Cup and Quebec Nordiques fans sat and watched their team move to Denver and establish the Colorado Avalanche dynasty at the turn of the century.
To make matters worse, no Canadian team even qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs last year, and the Oilers have a league-high ten-year drought of even making the postseason. Canada’s NHL teams are in need of some puck luck, and the Blue Jays and Raptors will take some as well. With the two biggest drought story lines in sports now over, it’s time that North American sports fans turn to the northernmost of the two participating countries. Canada needs a championship, and they need one soon.
If there’s any consolation, the only more tortured fan base than the country of Canada is their closest neighbor to the south, Buffalo, New York. Misery loves company.