A new poll suggests most Canadians still see the Toronto Maple Leafs as the hockey team that most represents the country.
Among the nearly one-quarter of Canadians who, when asked, said they are avid hockey fans, 27 per cent picked the Leafs as Canada's team in a Decima poll conducted last weekend.
However, a close 26 per cent of those polled chose the Ottawa Senators as Canada's representative team, while another 23 per cent picked the Montreal Canadiens - all within the poll's margin of error.
"While the rivalry between the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens has been one of the longest running and highest profile story lines in NHL (history). . . the results also show that the Senators have established a claim to a place for themselves in the debate about which is 'Canada's team' of the future, especially among avid followers of the game," said Decima CEO Bruce Anderson.
"The possibility of the Senators bringing the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time in more than a decade has won the enthusiastic support of millions of Canadians."
Overall, 24 per cent of the just over 1,000 people polled between May 17 and 20 named the Leafs as Canada's team, while 22 per cent picked the Canadiens and just 15 per cent chose the Sens.
The poll is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
The best-of-seven Stanley Cup final begins Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks.
And, it seems, many Canadian hockey fans think the Senators can pull out a victory.
"The strong majority of Canadian hockey fans is pulling for the Senators and believes they will win the Cup," said Anderson.
Nearly half of those asked thought it's likely the Senators will take home Lord Stanley's cup, but just 14 per cent said they believe the Sens are a sure thing. Among avid hockey fans, 88 per cent said they think the Senators will win the series.
Nine per cent think they'll lose.
Support for individual teams varies from province to province.
Not surprisingly, 58 per cent of those polled in Quebec picked the Habs as their favourite Canadian team, compared to the Senators at 13 per cent. No other team registered more than one per cent support.
In Ontario, 47 per cent chose the Leafs - more than double the 22 per cent support shown for the Sens, even though Ottawa is also an Ontario team. Another eight per cent of those polled in Ontario picked the Canadiens, while no other team registered more than one per cent support in Ontario.