How to pick a Canadian NHL team for your working holiday

Wallet? Phone? Passport? Suitcase? Great! looks like you’re ready to go on your working holiday to Canada!

Okay, maybe you’ll need a few more items than that. But you know what we mean!

Before you get to Canada, there are a few things you should know.

For instance, you must be aware that Ice Hockey is one of the most popular sports in the country.

There are currently 7 Canadian teams competing in the NHL (the primary professional ice hockey league in North America) – Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, and Vancouver Canucks.

What better way to break the ice (pun intended) and integrate yourself into Canadian culture than by taking the plunge and becoming an ice hockey fanatic!

Because sports and specifically the NHL are so popular in Canada, you should have no problem immersing yourself in the culture of your chosen club!

So, without further ado, here are a few options for you to consider when picking your NHL team!

Canadian ice hockey player

Which Canadian teams play in the NHL?

Montreal Canadiens

Formed in 1917, they are perceived as the most successful Canadian-based NHL team.

Did you know they are also one of the oldest sports franchises in North America?

The Canadiens have won a massive 24 Stanley Cups in 34 final appearances!

For teams created before 2010, the Canadiens have the highest points percentage of any team in the history of the NHL.

Where do they play?

The Montreal Canadiens play in the Bell Centre.

With a capacity of over 21,000, it is the largest ice hockey arena in the world!

Going to games is easy too. The stadium is located downtown in Montreal in an excellent location for access, connected to the underground and Central Station.

Who are their rivals?

Their biggest Canadian rivals are the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This has only grown in time, with the success of each team.

What colours do they wear?

The Canadiens wear red, white, and blue.

In fact, the Canadiens jersey is iconic across the world as it is one of the most recognizable hockey shirts.

Toronto Maple leafs

Formed in 1917, the Maple Leafs are another hugely successful Canadian-based NHL team.

They have won 13 Stanley Cups in 21 appearances.

Where do they play?

The Maple Leafs play in the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

The capacity here is just under 19,000, making it slightly smaller than Montreal’s Bell Centre.

It is located downtown in the heart of Toronto, on Bell Street. Catching a game is always great fun and there is a great atmosphere in the restaurants and bars around the arena on game days.

Toronto buildings

Who are their rivals?

Their biggest rivals are the Canadiens.

The two teams are usually seen as the Canadian ice-hockey powerhouses.

What colours do they wear?

The Canadiens wear white and blue.

It is another jersey that is iconic across the sports world.

Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets took over from the Atlanta Thrashers in 2011.

They have yet to win a Stanley Cup.

Where do they play?

The home stadium of the Winnipeg Jets is the Canada Life Centre.

This holds just over 15,000 people.

It is located downtown in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in an ideal location for access, as well as for activities before and after.

blank scoreboard at an ice hockey game in Canada

Who are their rivals?

The Winnipeg Jets don’t have an old-fashioned ‘rival’ in itself, but they are bickering with a number of teams!

For example, Minnesota, Vegas, Nashville, and the Maple Leafs are all disliked by most Jets fans.

What colours do they wear?

The Jets wear red, white, silver, and blue.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers were founded in 1972 and are a reasonably successful NHL side.

They have won 5 Stanley Cups, the most recent in 1990.

They are also the northernmost NHL team.

Where do they play?

The home stadium of the Oilers is Rogers Place.

It is quite a big stadium, being able to host over 18,000 people at its maximum capacity.

It is also located in an ideal place in the city, with public access to the arena easily being provided by the Edmonton Light Rail Transit system and Edmonton Transit Service bus.

Who are their rivals?

The Oiler’s main rivals are the Calgary Flames.

What colours do they wear?

The Oilers wear navy blue, orange, and white.

Canadian ice hockey players

Calgary Flames

Originally founded in 1972, the Calgary Flames are local rivals to the Oilers.

They’ve won a single Stanley Cup, the year before their foes in 1989.

Where do they play?

The home stadium of the Flames is the Scotiabank Saddledome.

It’s a hugely impressive building, making up part of the Calgary skyline.

It is a big stadium too, hosting well over 19,000 people at maximum capacity.

It is accessible by foot, road, or rail!

Who are their rivals?

See above!

What colours do they wear?

The Flame’s colours are red, yellow, black, and white.

Ottawa Senators

The Senators have never won a Stanley Cup, despite being founded in 1992.

Winger Dany Heatley holds the Franchise record for most goals in a single season, scoring 50 in both 2005/06 and 2006/07.

Where do they play?

The home stadium of the Senators is the Canadian Tire Centre.

It’s located off Highway 417 slightly outside of Ottawa.

It can host over 18,000 people at maximum capacity.

It is accessible by rail or road, with many choosing to travel there by OC Transpo.


Read Also:
Canada Transportation Guide


ice hockey players

Who are their rivals?

Toronto Maple Leafs!

In fact, the ‘Battle of Ontario’ rivalry was named after the feud between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Fanatics describe it as one of Canada’s best ice-hockey rivalries.

What colours do they wear?

The Senators wear red, gold, black, and white.

The Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks have the lowest points percentage of any Canadian-based NHL team.

They were formed in 1945, and have never won a Stanley Cup.

Where do they play?

The home stadium of the Canucks is the Rogers Arena, a hugely popular venue in Canada for concerts.

It can host just less than 19,000 people at maximum capacity.

It’s perfectly situated in the heart of Vancouver, accessible by a short walk through the city or by public transport such as SkyTrain.

It can be seen right beside BC Place, home of the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team.

Who are their rivals?

Depends which Canuck fan you ask!

What colours do they wear?

The Canucks wear blue, green, and white.

Here’s to the underdog!

Winnipeg, Canada view

Should I pick my local team?

Of course!

It may seem like a difficult choice, particularly if you have no previous experience watching NHL.

However, picking the local team is always the best solution!

We would always recommend picking the closest team to your location, as it will be convenient and also help grow friendships and bonds with local supporters.

Why is fighting allowed in Ice Hockey?

This is one aspect of the sport that newcomers often struggle to wrap their heads around.

Tensions can often boil over to the point of the contest resembling an MMA match!

Officially, referees are encouraged to tolerate fighting during hockey games, but they can choose to carry out varying degrees of penalties on players who take part in fights.

Players, media, and coaches are guided by what’s known as ‘the code’ – an unwritten set of rules that governs fighting.

Fights generally aren’t random – in most circumstances, they are organized – think of it as blowing off steam! Players that don’t get involved are generally not targeted or thoughtless of.

If a player does target someone not involved they will be punished from that game, and possibly even subsequent games.

Hockey is a self-regulated game compared to, let’s say, soccer. The Ref’s job is to decide on what happens during on-ice play, and not necessarily for behavioural calls.

What hockey terms and jargon should I familiarise myself with?

Hockey is full of lingo that you may not have heard before, even if you have been in the country for a while.

The language adopted by hockey fans adds to the comradery in the stadium before, during, and after games.

Here are fifteen crucial terms you really need to know before going to a match!

  • Apple – An assist
  • Biscuit – The Puck
  • Bucket – A helmet
  • Clapper – A ‘slapshot’ technique used to hit the puck
  • Celly – A goal celebration
  • Duster – Someone who doesn’t play often – they collect ‘dust’ on the bench!
  • Egg – Name given to a game that ends 0-0
  • Filthy – If someone says this after a good pass or shot, they are complementing the player’s action
  • Gino – A goal
  • Light the Lamp – A goal has been scored

Canadian ice hockey

  • Pillows – The leg pads on a goaltender
  • Plumber – Usually the one that does the dirty work on the team, but may not be the most skilled
  • Sieve – A way of describing a goaltender who has conceded too many shots
  • Sin-bin – The box a player will go to serve penalty time
  • Top Shelf – The optimal part of the goal, underneath the crossbar

Is it easy to get Ice Hockey tickets?

Well, in truth, that depends.

If you’re looking for tickets to a Maple Leaf’s game, you’ll probably find it harder to get your hands on one than, let’s say, a Senator’s game.

That is due to the demand for tickets in the cities at any time.

Tickets can literally range from between $15 to a couple of hundred dollars per game, depending on factors such as:

  • Home team
  • Opposition
  • Time of year
  • Seat location

You can buy Ice Hockey tickets in a lot of places – for example, online on Ticketmaster.com, NHL.com, or the respective team’s website.

Hockey can be a great way to immerse yourself in local culture during your stay in Canada.

It can also be a great way of blowing off steam as you watch two teams going head to head for victory!

Either way, strap in, get some popcorn and refreshments, ‘cos it’s gonna be a bumpy ride in that arena!

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