Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rangers and Capitals fans chant 'U-S-A! U-S-A!' at NHL game

Many American hockey fans recognize the developing hockey rivalry between Canada and the United States. What American hockey fans in Manhattan and the District of Columbia may not realize, however, is where the Vancouver Canucks' best player this season comes from.

On two consecutive nights on a five-game road trip, the Canucks were serenaded with the obnoxious "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chant that was popularized during the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, for reasons that are probably completely clear to the bozos in the stands and nobody else.

Canada and the United States have had some great hockey games over the past few years and that more and more Americans are breaking into the NHL as superstars. But Canadians make up a higher percentage of national players on every single team in the NHL. The best player on the Rangers comes from Sweden, and, depending on who you ask, the best player on the Capitals is either Swedish or Russian. The Rangers have 11 Canadians to 8 Americans, counting injuries and call-ups. The Capitals have 14 Canadians and just 5 Americans.

The New York Rangers beat the Vancouver Canucks in regulation Thursday for the first time since the discovery of fire, which should be a source of local pride to the team's fanbase. But it is certainly not a source of national pride. I highly doubt that Rangers fans celebrated with Islanders or Devils fans, and nor were Capitals fans celebrating with Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay. Nor are the likely Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler or Canuck goaltender Cory Schnieder (who was tagged for the loss), both American, going to turn against their team out of national interest.

Now, the Washington Capitals have been around since 1974, but their fans have only been around since about 2007, so it's quite unlikely that they has enough tradition to create their own chant. Rangers fans, though, are an Original Six team that beat the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals. You should have mentioned that.

Club teams can transcend borders. I doubt fans at Old Trafford are singing God Save The Queen when Manchester United find themselves in a Champions League match against Barcelona. (It is even more unlikely that such an event happens at Anfield. Zing) While we write about Canadian teams at the 'Eh' Factor, it comes off as more of a response to the coverage we're given by TSN and Sportsnet which, amazingly, is mostly about the Canadian teams.

Some fans chant petty things. Other fans chant downright stupid things. I am not, as a Canadian, insulted in the least by Capital and Ranger fans chanting "U-S-A!" but I do reserve the right to think it's completely asinine.

*Updated Saturday morning to clarify a throwaway joke*

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