Jeffrey recently created this nifty chart, based on Wikipedia data, showing the nationalities of drafted NHL players over the past 40 years or so:
It’s interesting to note the increase in American-born players around 1999. I wonder what happened during that period? Also, I was struck by the declining number of players from Russia. Their development system has gone downhill since the end of the Cold War. Additionally, I gather that Russian players can live pretty high on the hog if they stay home.
Speaking of hockey, how about last night’s game? I’m cheering for the Penguins. There is, of course, a sense of inevitability about the Red Wings’ victory, but it’s nice to see the series go longer. Detroit is such a dominating team–I’m impressed that Pittsburgh has managed to eke out two victories.
The reasons for the increase in USA born players are two-fold:
a) the maturing of (the much maligned sunbelt) US hockey markets – IOW, players who were kids when Wayne went to LA and Mario dominated with the Pens or even Modano became a Texas hero, are not all grown up and ready to play RJ UMberger is a perfect example as are Jack and Erik Johnson (no relation to one another or the mellow surfer singer)
b) the USA Hockey programme stepping up to identify, test and train talented players across the USA and then assemble them into teams who played together at international tourneys for years (rather than the former ad hoc approach of cobbling together players as an after-thought)
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