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Hockey Night in Anaheim? Some Canadian fans favour the Ducks

The team is representing the nation's capital in the Stanley Cup final, but there will be fans all across the country cheering against them during Monday night's series opener.

Just ask Michael Fox, a self-described "big-time" Toronto Maple Leafs fan who said he'll be rooting for the Ducks all the way.

"If it were the Leafs in the final, they'd be cheering against us right to the bitter end," he said of Senators fans while lunching at Wayne Gretzky's bar in Toronto. "They'd probably show up at the game and cheer against us just out of spite, so I have my reasons to cheer for the Ducks."

Fox said he doesn't buy into the notion of the Sens as "Canada's team."

"Anaheim has a lot of good Canadian stars. You got guys like Pronger, you got Giguere, and the Niedermayer brothers. So if you want to talk about Canada's team, really, Anaheim's it."

The true Leafs fans, Fox said, "will stay loyal to their team" and honour the Ontario rivalry.

Anti-Sens sentiment in Canada isn't limited to Leafs fans - a point underscored by a recent Decima Research survey.

The poll suggested that 24 per cent of the 1,000-plus people surveyed between May 17 and 20 named Toronto as Canada's team, while 22 per cent picked the Montreal Canadiens and just 15 per cent chose the Senators.

In Montreal, season ticket-holder Dave Kaufman said it's ridiculous to expect Habs fans to cheer for a bitter divisional rival that his team plays eight times a year.

"There's this pan-Canadian sentiment that you're obligated to cheer for a Canadian team," he said. "In 2004, the idea that Edmontonians would cheer for Calgary was beyond me."

Kaufman said he could never root for the Sens, claiming a team with such little history doesn't deserve a Stanley Cup yet.

"They're still the team of Alexandre Daigle and Dave McLlwain," Kaufman said, taking a jibe at the Sens' early struggles.

More than that, Kaufman said, Anaheim's "a fantastic team."

Jason Tsoukas, a Canadiens fan living in Ottawa, said he's also rooting for the Ducks.

"It's not as if this is the Olympics and it's Canada versus the States."

Tsoukas said he can't stand hearing celebratory firecrackers underneath his Rideau Street window at night. With a few early Ducks wins, he said, he might be able to get some peace and quiet.

"The Sens fans are driving me crazy," he said.

Fox said he doesn't see himself fitting in with Ottawa fans anyway.

"They're a bunch of politicians. Politicians don't know hockey."

Try telling that to the prime minister, who's made no secret of his obsession with hockey history.

Tsoukas admitted he's cheering for the Ducks because he's a little jealous of Ottawa.

"I still have highlight reels of Jason Spezza undressing Sheldon Souray running though my mind," he said, adding that an Ottawa loss in the final would be sweet revenge.

For Olie Kornelsen, a Calgary Flames fan in Toronto, regional affiliations trump national ones. He said he likes the Ducks because they're "a western team" that plays a more interesting brand of hockey.

"I like their system," he said at Shoeless Joe's sports bar in Toronto. "They proved they could play without Pronger."

Kornelsen wants to see the Ducks take the Stanley Cup in six games at the most.

While he's a fan of some of the Sens' individual players, like Daniel Alfredsson and Ray Emery, Kornelsen said he just can't get behind the team emotionally.

While there will be Canadian hockey fans cheering for Anaheim, Andrew Kilgour, owner of Toronto's Kilgour's bar, said he doesn't care who wins - as long as the hockey is good.

Should the Sens win the Cup, Kilgour's already got a comeback ready for any Ottawa fan tempted to talk trash about the Leafs: "They didn't play the Leafs in the playoffs this year. That's why they made it."


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