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History ‘n’ Hockey: Saying goodbye to Dominion Day

Leafs, Canadiens and Jets in action tonight

On this day in Canadian history, in 1982, the federal government changed the name of our national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day. 

Ever since Governor General Charles Stanley Monck issued a proclamation to commemorate the anniversary of Confederation, Canadians have been toasting the nation every July 1.  Eleven years after the first celebrations in 1868, the national holiday officially became known as Dominion Day. 

But Dominion Day has not always meant the same thing for Canadians. Maritimers used to grieve some of the earliest July 1 celebrations, citing Confederation as the end of their way of life as they knew it. 

Some even went as far as to drape curtains over streetlamps in protest. In Newfoundland and Labrador it represents a day of mourning as people reflect on when nearly all of the Newfoundland Regiment was wiped out during the Battle of the Somme in the First World War. Moreover, some Indigenous peoples will tell you that the holiday does not resonate with them because of their long history of colonialism. 

Despite the range in perspectives, many were upset when the government made the change in 1982. The Globe and Mail wrote that, “the amendment is the product of a hasty, ill-considered rush to alter an article of history which meant a lot to many Canadians.” 

Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m.

2016-17 Records: FLA 3-1-1 (5th in the Atlantic); TOR 1-2-3 (7th in the Atlantic)
Leading Scorers: Auston Matthews (6G, 4A); Jonathan Marchessault (3G, 5A) 
After making history on opening night when he became the first rookie in the NHL’s modern era to notch four goals in his debut, Autson Matthews now sits atop the league for the most points after six games. While his scoring pace is likely unsustainable, he’s currently tracking for 137, it’s not out of the question to think that he should challenge for the most single season goals and points for a Maple Leafs rookie. In 1982-83, Peter Ihnacak scored 66 points and three seasons later, first overall pick Wendel Clark potted 34 goals. In just a half dozen games, Matthews has already made a significant dent in these numbers, but there’s still plenty more work to be done. 

Prediction: Leafs by 1

Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m.

2016-17 Records: TBL 5-1-0 (2nd in the Atlantic); MTL 6-0-1 (1st in the Atlantic) 
Leading Scorers: Steven Stamkos (5G, 4A); Shea Weber (3G, 6A)
Montreal took all four meetings against Tampa Bay last season and nearly doubled them up in two games at the Bell Centre when they scored nine goals to the Lightning’s four. In that pair of contests, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, and Max Pacioretty combined for 11 points. With Michel Therrien reuniting that trio as the Canadiens top line this season, look for them to be big contributors tonight. Backing them up is Shea Weber, who has been a force so far with his new club, contributing nine points from the blueline. And behind him, most importantly, is Carey Price. With his triumphant return to the crease last week, Montreal has plenty of reason to celebrate. As Price checks back into the net again tonight, he’s currently undefeated and boasts a .939 SV%.

Prediction: Lightning by 2

Dallas Stars at Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m.

2016-17 Records: DAL 3-2-1 (3rd in the Central); WPG 2-4-0 (7th in the Central)
Leading Scorers: Tyler Seguin (3G, 3A); Mark Schiefele (4G, 3A) 
No rest for the wicked, as they say. This tilt is a quick rematch from Tuesday evening. While both teams traded goals that night in Dallas, the Stars got the better of their visitors and downed the Jets 3-2. Winnipeg will be keen to exact some revenge tonight at home, but they’ll need some help from their goaltenders. Both Michael Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck have struggled out of the gate, with only the latter posting a save percentage north of .900. The pair of young goalies will certainly settle down as the season progresses, but with no measure of consistency thus far, it’s likely that head coach Paul Maurice slots Hellebuyck back into the crease tonight with the hope of finding a hot hand.

Prediction: Stars by 1

Last Minute of Play

Over the past three decades, there’s been no shortage of Canadians who have lobbied the government to make the change back to Dominion Day. Twenty years ago, Stephen Harper lent his support to a private member’s bill that called for the return. The future Prime Minister said, “it has been a mistake for this country to try and preserve its future by destroying its past and the name Dominion Day should be restored.”
Whether you call it Dominion Day, Memorial Day, or Canada Day, everybody knows that the most important part of July 1st is that it marks the start of NHL free agency. It’s that wonderful time of year when general managers make questionable decisions and mid-level talent gets paid like superstars. While the term and dollars attached to Canada Day contracts have become less aggressive over the last few years, you never know what the day will bring or who you could be rooting for following season. Cheers! 

Be sure to read November’s entries as we explore the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the Suez Crisis of 1956. 

Prediction Record: 1-1

Mike Commito is a Canadian historian. Follow him on Twitter @mikecommito.


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