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Vulgar Statistics: Player Nationalities


This started mostly as a curiosity, but I decided to adapt it to a full fledged Vulgar Stats column.  In short, I wondered what the breakdown was between teams and their players in terms of their country of birth.  Certainly we have perceptions of certain teams (cough*Washington and Detroit*cough) and their makeup, but this column is not too fond of perceptions.  So without further ado…


(Click to Enlarge)

Note: Not sure how ESPN counted players.  For example Jhonas Enroth did not show up for Buffalo, and Evgeni Malkin did not for Pittsburgh.

Since the chart is so big and colorful, I didn’t even bother trying to squish it to fit onto the page so I will sum up the totals for each country below:

  • Canada – 395
  • U.S.A. -166
  • Czechoslovakia (one country until 1992) – 51
  • Sweden – 47
  • Russia/USSR – 34
  • Finland – 26
  • Germany – 8
  • Denmark – 5
  • Switzerland – 4
  • Austria – 3
  • Norway – 2
  • Brazil – 1 (Robyn Regehr, Calgary)
  • Brunei – 1 (Craig Adams, Pittsburgh)
  • Italy – 1 (Luca Sbisa, Anaheim)
  • Poland – 1 (Wojtek Wolski, NYR)
  • Yugoslavia (Included Slovenia until 1991) – 1 (Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles)

Was it a surprise to anyone to learn that Detroit has the most non-North American Players?  I was kind of shocked by Pittsburgh who, had they not acquired Kovalev and Michalek this past year, would only have two non-North American players on their roster.  I also did not realize how widespread Czechs and Slovaks were, I expected them to come in fifth behind Russia and Sweden.

In other news, Pittsburgh and the Islanders are front runners for North Americans with 24 and 25 respectively, though some of that is due to the fact that the Islanders have suited up thirty players.  Beyond that the breakdown is pretty even with Anaheim, Nashville, the NYR, and Phoenix tying for the diversity crown with seven different nationalities represented on each team.  Good on them.  Colorado, Chicago, and Minnesota have the least diversity with four nationalities represented, as does Carolina…I guess some stereotypes are true…

Moving on, I decided to see which states were best represented by our good old American boys.  I won’t post that chart since it is enormous, but those figures broke down like this with Sabres in (these things):

  • Minnesota – 33 (Jordan Leopold, Golden Valley)
  • Michigan – 30 (Ryan Miller, East Lansing; Mike Grier, Detroit; Nathan Gerbe, Oxford)
  • New York – 21 (Patrick Kaleta, Angola; Tim Connolly, Baldwinsville)
  • Wisconsin – 10 (Drew Stafford, Milwaukee)
  • Massachusetts – 10
  • Connecticut – 8
  • Illinois – 7
  • Pennsylvania – 6 (Mike Weber, Pittsburgh)
  • Alaska – 6
  • New Jersey – 4
  • North Dakota – 4 (Paul Gaustad, Fargo)
  • California, Colorado, New Hampshire – 3
  • Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Washington – 2 (Chris Butler, St. Louis)
  • Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah – 1 (Tyler Myers, Houston)

So 28 of the 50 states are represented in the NHL, that’s not half bad, especially when you get a few contributors from the south.  With pretty good hockey programs growing in Texas and California, those numbers should increase in the near future.  Northward ho!

  • Ontario – 167 (Brad Boyes, Mississauga; Derek Roy, Ottawa; Cody McCormick, London)
  • Alberta – 64 (Tyler Ennis, Edmonton)
  • Quebec – 50 (Jason Pominville, Repentigny; Patrick Lalime, St. Bonaventure)
  • British Columbia – 39 (Rob Niedermayer, Cranbrook; Steve Montador and Shaone Morrisonn, Vancouver)
  • Saskatchewan – 36
  • Manitoba – 23
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 6
  • Nova Scotia – 5
  • Prince Edward Island – 3
  • New Brunswick – 2

Again, not many surprises, but it did have me wondering.  Has there ever been an NHLer from one of the territories?  Granted if you’re born that far north, hockey and traveling probably aren’t in your future, but there has to have been someone, right?  Interesting to point out that only Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, and St. Louis are sans Albertans, and only Helsinki and Moscow…er…Detroit and Washington are without Quebecois.

Final Word:

I love European players (as long as they don’t play into the lazy, illegal stick-work stereotype) and I think the more diversity the NHL has, the better.  Multiple perspectives on the game are a good thing, and it encourages honesty and accountability among the participants.  It’s clear that European players are still the victims of bias in the NHL (and not just from Don Cherry).  A language barrier, media hesitance to deal with broken English, and a ‘good ol’ Canadian boys’ hockey mentality that is still all too prevalent will do that.  But their numbers are growing, and while sheer distance will always keep their numbers below their North American counterparts, hopefully their influence will continue to spread and make for better hockey for all of us.





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