Great Moments in Canadian Sports Rivalries

The battle of Alberta is heating up again, so let’s look back on some of the greatest moments in Canadian sports history.

The Battle of Alberta

The last time the Oilers and the Flames met during a playoff series was in 1991. The series was memorable for Theo Fleury’s overtime goal in game six (and his massive celebration afterwards), but the Oilers ended up taking the series in game seven.

The 1979 Montreal vs. Toronto Sweep

1979 was the last time the Leafs and the Habs met in a playoffs series until 2021, and in 1979 the Habs smoked ’em. The Habs swept the series, capping it with a massive 5-4 win in game four. Then they went on to battle their true rivals, Boston. Look, you make a lot of rivals on your way to twenty-four Stanley Cups.

The Canucks vs. Flames

Why do the Flames need another rival when they have the Oilers? Well, they’ve met in three overtime game sevens, which is a big deal as it’s only matched by the St. Louis Blues vs. the Dallas Stars, and that’s only if you count their time as the Minnesota North Stars. Truthfully, all three western teams are rivals, with Calgary vs. Edmonton as the most developed rivalry, Calgary vs. Vancouver the second, and Edmonton vs. Vancouver a distant third. Sorry, Vancouver—maybe try Seattle?

The Banjo Bowl

When the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers meet, it’s a good time. The Labour Day Classic is played the Sunday before Labour Day in Regina, and the rematch game is played the following Sunday in Winnipeg. It’s called the Banjo Bowl, and it’s considered good form to show up with a banjo. The Roughriders fans, of course, still wear their melon helmets.

Canadian Women’s Soccer Wins Big

In 2012, Team USA won a game against Team Canada because the Americans whined to a referee and got special treatment. In 2020, Team Canada beat the Americans by outplaying and outscoring them and went on to win Olympic gold. Perhaps the sweetest moment came when team captain Christine Sinclair, the world’s all-time leading goal scorer, gave the chance at a penalty kick to Jessie Fleming.

The All-Canadian Division

One of the weird side effects of a worldwide pandemic was the creation of an all-Canadian division of the NHL. We’ll probably never see its like again. Toronto was the division champion and, given that it’s now dissolved, they’re the reigning champions of this all-Canadian battle. That’s something you can never lose in the last moments of a game seven, right, Toronto?

The Richard Riot

In 1955, superstar Maurice Richard was suspended for hitting a linesman. The incident, which saw francophone Richard suspended for the remainder of the season by an anglophone NHL president, provoked a riot in Montreal, which only ended when Richard made a public plea for order and promised to return to win a Stanley Cup. When he came back, Richard helped the Canadiens win five in a row, a record that still stands. In fact, some scholars credit the Richard Riot for helping sow the seeds of the Quiet Revolution. Not bad for a hockey player, eh?