1) Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes are easily Canada’s Team of the Year – not because I’m a Montrealer and have close ties to the team. No, because they truly earned the title in my eyes after winning their second-straight Grey Cup this year.
The Alouettes are the cream of the crop because they did it this year the hard way. After going 15-3 (17-3 including the post season) and beating the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 98th Grey Cup, the Als showed that a little adversity along the way can be a good thing.
Under the leadership of Bob Wetenhall, Jim Popp and Marc Trestman, the Alouettes have always and will continue to challenge for the Grey Cup every year.
2) Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders may have lost two-straight Grey Cups to the Alouettes, but they once again captured the imagination of the people of Saskatchewan in 2010 with an exciting run to the title game. Alouette quarterback Anthony Calvillo is clearly the cream of the CFL crop, but Saskatchewan pivot Darian Durant is unquestionably the best young leader in the CFL and will ensure the Green Riders will be competitive for years to come.
3) Montreal Canadiens
Again, this may seem like a homer kind of choice, but the Canadiens’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals last spring was absolutely captivating. The fact is, up until about three-four years ago, the Canadiens have been almost Maple Leafs bad since the mid-90s. There is an entire generation of Habs fans that weren’t even alive when they last won the Stanley Cup, let alone were even close to competing for it. In this day and age, fans can`t expect their team to win the championship every year, but they should expect at minimum that their team will always be in the hunt. The Habs are finally there and thanks to the great Spring of 2010, there is a realistic feeling of hope in Montreal for the first time since Jacques Demers was running the show.
4) Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks remind me a lot of the Montreal Expos of the early-90s – always on the cusp, all the talent in the world, but still always on the outside looking in when it counts. That said, last year they proved they have what it takes to challenge for a deep playoff run – now they just need to figure out a way to take the next step. That said, with Roberto Luongo, the Sedin brothers, and Alain Vigneault behind the bench, the Canucks were one of the most exciting Canadian teams of 2010 and may have what it takes to go all the way in 2011.
5) Toronto FC
I put a soccer team on this list with much trepidation, but the truth is that Canada’s only Major League Soccer team – for now – has truly made a place for itself in the country’s biggest market. So much so that MLS hosted its championship game in Hogtown in 2010 to a sold-out BMO Field. Unfortunately, TFC had to completely screw the Toronto Argonauts to get the stadium they wanted, but nevertheless, soccer has become more than a niche sport in Canada’s metropolis and that they’ve done so in just four seasons makes it all the more impressive. TFC has averaged over 20,000 fans per game since it came into existence – pound for pound outselling both the Argos and the Blue Jays.