ANALYSIS: Who should Winnipeg Jets fans support in Stanley Cup Final?

If you’re seeking a rooting interest in this year’s Stanley Cup Final, there are, of course, two choices: the Florida Panthers or the Edmonton Oilers. Where that may get a little awkward for many in this market is making the choice.

You see, the Panthers possess two former Winnipeg Jets coaches in Paul Maurice and Jamie Kompon, two former players in Dimitry Kulikov and Kevin Stenlund, and another player in Matthew Tkachuk whose mother is from the city and whose grandparents still reside here. For some of us, that’s enough to feel connected to the Floridians.

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On the other side are the Oilers, a team which is, without question, a deep rival of the Jets to date and going all the way back to early 1970s and the WHA days.

Oh sure, Edmonton does have fans in these parts, but for the majority of Winnipeg’s faithful, it would be blasphemous to support them. For decades, there’s been emotional disdain for the Oilers in the Smyth Division — and now Western Conference battles, and more recently, a bubble playoff series not that long ago.

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But what changes that sentiment is Canadiana. You know, the nationalistic aspect we’re often prone to hear when there’s a Canadian team in the Cup final against a team from the United States.

“I’m cheering for the Canadian team,” some among us will puff.

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While that patriotic loyalty is noble, there is nothing forcing you to follow suit. Your citizenship won’t be revoked if Edmonton is not your choice, and cheering against the Oilers won’t make you any less Canadian, even though champagne hasn’t been sipped from the Cup by a team from north of the 49th parallel in 31 years.

In fact, what your Canadian birthright does allow is for you to make your own choice, which, if you’re still on the fence, means you have until Saturday to finalize your decision when the series starts in Florida.

So when it comes to a rooting interest in the series, there are, of course, only two choices. But for some of us that might seem to be more awkward based on who’s involved and where we live.

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