The 2021 NHL season is underway, and the all-Canadian North Division is off to a roaring start, by which I mean the Toronto Maple Leafs are in first place, and as we all predicted the Ottawa Senators have set up camp in last place.

Before the season began, there was talk of creating a trophy just for the best Canadian team, and it’s not too far off an idea. Among the top tier Canadian soccer teams in Major League Soccer there’s the Voyageurs Cup, and there are regional battles all over the world for club teams. It’s a fun bit of extra marketing and competition added to the regular season; like adding a trophy for the Battle of Ontario/Alberta.

A suggested name was the Prime Ministers’ Trophy, to go along side the Presidents’ Trophy the NHL currently awards to the best regular season team. The problem with this name is, to put it simply, that it’s stupid. The Presidents’ Trophy has nothing to do with the President of the United States, so a rival trophy named for the leader of Canada is silly - plus it should technically be called the Queen’s Trophy but let’s let sleeping monarchies lie.

We could bring back the old Canada Cup award - a nice simple name and one gigantic, fingerprint laden, pointy trophy. Seriously, this thing would have killed anyone who fell on it:

The Canada Cup was retired when the NHL rebranded the tournament as the World Cup in 1994 and now they keep forgetting to hold the tournament until they need something to distract everyone from a work stoppage.

One idea would be to name it after the most well known, popular, and greatest hockey player of all time but we can’t have a trophy named for Auston Matthews until he retires.

The Gretzky Trophy is an idea, until it’s time to present it ahead of the playoffs and Wayne turns and slams it into the eye of the winning team’s best player.

I could also cater to our audience here and name it after George Armstrong, one of the all time greatest Maple Leafs, and a leader on and off the ice.

What do we name the Canadian championship?

Canada Cup186
Gretzky Trophy65
Armstrong Cup69
My answer is in the comments12

For now I’ll stick with the Canada Cup, if only to bring back those memories and subtly influence Hockey Canada to return to blue pants.

Right now our Canada Cup leader is the Toronto Maple Leafs. We will work with points percentage as our standings to make up for the uneven amount of games played. Goal differential will be our tie breaker. Your North Division standings:

Canada Cup Standings

Maple Leafs2115420.76219

The Maple Leafs are just one point ahead of the Montreal Canadiens, and we can thank the Vancouver Canucks for beating the Habs in overtime for that. Speaking of the Canucks, they have the most games played (15) and sit outside the playoff picture in sixth place. There’s a lot of wasted games in their past.

Of course we can’t limit ourselves to one award. We may as well give out hardware for all of the important categories while we’re at it.

Marcel Dionne Award (Scoring Leader)

Connor McDavid (EDM) - 26Pts
Leon Draissaitl (EDM) - 23Pts
Mitch Marner (TOR) - 20Pts

The Oilers only two forwards are running away with this one. Marner is doing his best to catch up to them, but is hampered by the fact the Maple Leafs spread their scoring around the team.

Gordie Howe Award (MVP)

Connor McDavid - C - EDM
Leon Draisaitl - C - EDM
Quinn Hughes - D - VAN

It’s a clear tie between Draisaitl and McDavid. Those two players ARE the Edmonton Oilers. Without them, the team is just a franchise who had a dozen or so top 10 picks and still can barely get into the first round.  For my third place vote I had to give a nod to Quinn Hughes who is tied for first in scoring for the Canucks, playing 20+ minutes a night and is working hard to give Canucks fans something, anything, to be happy about.

Mario Lemieux Trophy (Most Goals)

1 - Auston Matthews (TOR) - 10
T2 - Brock Boeser (VAN) - 9
T2 - Connor McDavid (EDM) - 9
T2 - Tyler Toffoli (MTL) - 9

It’s a tight race, but Auston Matthews is on top of the goal scoring race. A three way tie between two “oh, hey those guys” and McDavid is an interesting fight behind him.

Mike Bossy Trophy (Rookie of the Year)

Tim Stützle (LW-OTT) - 9GP - 4G - 2A - 6Pts
Nils Höglander (C-VAN) - 15GP - 3G - 4A - 7Pts
Alex Romanov (D-MTL) - 11GP - 1G - 1A - 2Pts

While Josh Norris has more points for rookies on the Senators, Stützle has just one less in two fewer games, so he gets my pick for leader in this race. Nils Höglander is another bright spot for the Canucks, though he’s barely cracking 0.5 points per game so he’ll have to step it up to stay in the top three. A rookie defender pulling in almost 20 minutes a night is nothing to sneeze at, and while he isn’t lighting up the score sheet Alex Romanov is worth highlighting here.

It’s all moot though, since Nick Robertson will run away with this once he’s back.

Martin Brodeur Award (Top Goalie)

Jake Allen (MTL) - 5GP - 4-1-0 - .940sv% - 1.81GAA
Jakob Markstrom (CGY) - 9GP - 5-3-1 - .914sv% - 2.55GAA - 2SO
Connor Hellebuyck (WPG) - 8GP - 5-2-1 - .913sv% - 2.48GAA

Should Jake Allen be on top of this list? No, but it’s fun to point out he’s having a better season than Carey Price. Right now this is a fight between Markstrom and Hellebuyck, which is interesting as they’re the goalies for the bottom two playoff teams in the division. The Flames and Jets* are relying heavily on their starting goaltenders, and a slip up in that position could mean a lottery pick.

Sheraton Hotels Road Performer Award (Best Away Game Results)

1 - Connor McDavid (EDM) - 5GP - 3G - 6A - 9Pts
2 - Mitch Marner (TOR) - 6GP - 2G - 7A - 9Pts
3 - Elias Lindholm (CGY) - 6GP - 1G - 7A - 8Pts

Finally, we have everyone’s favourite NHL award. Previously won by Hockey Hall of Fame players like Joe Sakic, the Sheraton Hotels Road Performer Award is given out to the player who performs the best away from home. Right now we have a tie in points between Mitch Marner and Connor McDavid, but I must give the tie breaker to McDavid who has played one less road game.

Elias Lindholm is tied for third with a few other players in the division like Montreal’s Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Petry, but has played less games than those two. I know we’ll all be keeping an eye out for the winner of this award throughout the season.

That’s the first check up on the Canada Cup for the 2021 NHL season. Did I wait to post this until the Leafs were solidly in first place? Perhaps, but also there were no Canadian games yesterday so I didn’t have to get up early to make sure the stats were up to date.

Good luck to the Maple Leafs on their quest for the Canada Cup!