State of the NHL: Is Canada being caught up to?

Canada has long been the place where NHL-ers are bred, born, and brought in from. The game the Canadians made popular is, in the Canadians’ opinions, played best by Canadians.

However, is the rest of the world catching up to Canada? I point to the Detroit Red Wings as your answer- YES.Up until recently, a team’s top players were mainly Canadians, either born there or raised and trained there (such as Owen Nolan). Of course, there were a few non-Canadian born stars on the teams even then.

Now look at the Wings.

The top line of Detroit is Brett Hull, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg. Hull, born in Ontario, is American trained and plays for the US in international tournaments (again, he’s an American as much as Nolan is a Canadian). Datsyuk is from Russia, and Zetterberg from Sweden. The top line is absent of Canadians.

The top 4 defensemen on Detroit, in order: 1) Nicklas Lidstrom, 2) Chris Chelios, 3) Jiri Fischer, and 4) Mathieu Schneider. Swede, American, Czech, American. If you make the argument (which I don’t) that Dmitri Bykov is a better player than Jason Woolley, you have the top-5 as non Canadians.

In goal, it’s solidly Canadian, with CuJo. Just last year, though, you had a Czech born goalie at no. 1(Hasek), a top-4 defense (Lidstrom, Chelios, Fischer, Olausson) that were not Canadian, and only Boyd Devereaux on the Hull-Datsyuk-Devereaux top line, as Canadian.

Interesting stuff.


50 Responses to State of the NHL: Is Canada being caught up to?

  1. JC21 says:

    You’re using one team as an example. And you didn’t mention key players such as Shanahan and Yzerman.

    If you add up players from every non-Canadian country, they might be equal to Canada, but individually, Canada still has the top players.

  2. jpmac says:

    I would venture a guess that in the top 25 in scoring in the league almost half are canadian. top goalies in the nhl right now….Turco, Belfour, Roy, Brodeur. Detroit was always known as the “American Red Army” use the whole league and you will see that Canada still dominates the sport….AND ALWAYS WILL

  3. keon says:

    Canada is still the best hockey nation in the world.

    Forwards

    Thornton

    Lecavelier

    Richards

    Bertuzzi

    Heatley

    Nash

    Spezza

    St. Louis

    Iginla

    Tanguay

    Marleau

    Doan

    Morrow

    Smyth

    Gagne

    Defense

    Boyle

    Jovanovski

    Redden

    Morris

    Brewer

    Hannan

    Stuart

    Bouwmeester

    Jackman

    Goal

    Luongo

    Denis

    Brodeur

    Lalime

    Fernandez

    Turco

    Legace

    Giguere

    Theodore

    Cloutier

  4. jpmac says:

    And the funny thing is, that is only the young players…there are alot of really good veterans also

  5. Rampage_Winger says:

    As far as Canada versus “the rest”, they’re behind in that respect. But Canada against any other given country (I’ll even count Scandanavia as one country, just for kicks), Canada is still tops. C’mon, I’m from San Antonio and I figured that one out.

  6. mikster says:

    Better than being from NJ hehe.

  7. -momo- says:

    Sooo, if your Detroit Redwings had played in the Olympics last year, they would have won?

    Because they are devoid of Canadians and still a successful team. Oh wait, they’ll take your Goalie, Shannahan, and Stevie Y.

    Oh, wait, your back up (should be starting) goalie is Canadian too. Guess you’ll have to get your retired Czech to play.

    You can keep Hull.

    Maybe it’s not true that the vast majority of the league is Canadian anymore, which I’m quite happy to hear, finally the talent and skill of the Europeans is being showcased here, but Canada is still a major producer of talented hockey players, something which nobody can deny.

  8. burky says:

    I thought Brett Hull was bred in North Van?

    Either way, the numbers of Canadians in the NHL increased by 2 percent this year, from 51% to 53%,

    while Euros and Yankees took a dip.

  9. Just-Checking-In says:

    I am a Red Wings fan, however I thought this was a really dumb idea for an article.

    You can not take one team and try and draw a league wide comparision. A couple of years ago if I looked at the Pittsburgh Penguins would I have tought that Czechs were the most dominate players in the league?

    No of course not. Remember different teams scout differently. Canada is a major suppilier of talent to the NHL, however you can say that other nations do as well.

    Write an article about the Wings, but leave these moronic type arguments to the Leaf fans of this site.

  10. JStatic87 says:

    I’m an American and and Wings fan, but you are jumping the gun on this one. The reason the Wings are built this way is because we never have high draft picks, so we scout Europe so thoroughly that we get gems late in the draft (Zetterberg, Datsyuk). That is the only way we get good players, because the good Canadians are always taken very early. And you still look at some of the Wings core guys: Shanny, Yzerman, Draper, McCarty, Maltby, we still have many Canadians.

    Hull is only American because his mom is a citizen. I could have sworn he grew up in Winnipeg where his dad played. Didn’t he try to make the Canadian team in the 97 Canada Cup? That was when he switched to American because he had citizenship. Wasn’t that kind of a big deal? or am I off with this one? Let me know.

  11. Robert says:

    No your correct…he got screwed when he didn’t get to play for Canada and went down to the US of A

  12. Primis says:

    Hull is only American because his mom is a citizen. I could have sworn he grew up in Winnipeg where his dad played. Didn’t he try to make the Canadian team in the 97 Canada Cup? That was when he switched to American because he had citizenship. Wasn’t that kind of a big deal? or am I off with this one? Let me know.

    You’re right on the generalizations, wrong on the details.

    Hull plays for the US because he feels he got gipped by Canada once in trying to make the Canadian National Team.

    However, this was back when he was trying to make the Canadian JUNIOR team, years and years ago.

    Also, on the article in general, in most cases a lot of the top Canadian-born NHL players hold US citizenships anyways. I can only assume the reverse is also true, though it’s not quite as noticeable since there aren’t the same number of Canadian teams.

    North America pined and whined to make hockey a worldwide game, and now they’ve got it. And when that happens, that means more international players.

    The NBA is experiencing the same sort of thing right now…

  13. sportside24 says:

    Add Rob Blake, Al McInnis, Chris Pronger, Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, Darrel Sydor, Martin Biron, Simon Gagne,

  14. burky says:

    Hull switched to team USA because he didn’t make the Canadian national junior team when he was a teenager (probably because he played college hockey in the US) and vowed never to play for team Canada again.

  15. Obiquatro says:

    What makes Canada the far-and-away leader in the quality of it’s hockey players is that they could field two and maybe even a third national team that would still complete on an international level. There are more and more great, good and passable players from overseas but they are just taking spots that weren’t there ten to twenty yearas ago (expansion, the best way to make games less entertaining).

  16. Just-Checking-In says:

    I saw some people beginning to talk about citizenship and such of players.

    Remember that according to International Rules, where you first play is the country that you will always be associated with.

    IN the case of Brett Hull which many are referring to, although born in Canada, when Hull was cut from one of the Canadian Teams and then join Team USA, he can not go back and ever be a part of a Team Canada.

    Now on to the citizenship issue. The United States does not recognize a dual citizenship, however Canada does. The US will allow for one for minor children under the age of 18, however after 18 the US will not recognize a dual citizenship.

    Hockey players like Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and others have become United States citizens. (Again there is no US dual citizenship) However these players would still play for Team Canada, even though they are US citizens because that is where they began their International Careers.

  17. aaron says:

    Catching up? Yes, they are. Have they caught up? No, they have not. Canadians are still the #1 provider of hockey talent. They’re dropping rapidly, but they’re still #1 by a pretty wide margin.

    In 10 years, it might be a different story, but I don’t think so. The individual Euro countries don’t have enough ppl to challenge Canada individually. Maybe Russia.

  18. Sundinfan says:

    no shit, i was gonna say that. what the hell?

  19. edmontonrules says:

    Are you assuming that the red wings are the only team in the nhl? I would also liek to remind you of who won the olympics. Hull is a big puss. He should be Canadian but since he couldn’t make the Canadian team when he was younger he went to the states. Canada still is the best country for producing hockey players. Even though our population is like 32 million.

  20. OldNord says:

    Nedved was born in Czech…but he played for Canada in 1993/94. So I guess he has never played for his native country after that in an international tournament. That’s illustrating your point.

  21. Hockey_Fan says:

    Canada produces better all around players with heart. USA does too but not on the scale Canada produces. Most Europeans are just flashy scorers and not physical, and they do not have the heart the North American players have.

  22. Rampage_Winger says:

    That’s a pretty big generalization there, pal. I guess Saku Koivu is just a heartless Communist, huh? Is that part of the European training? “Okay, next drill, sell soul. C’mon, let’s keep it coming, we need machines, not hearts!”

  23. hitznsticks says:

    I think, as a whole, there is much MORE talent coming from Canada- very talented players, from a hockey pure country; however, the strides being made by the USA, Sweden, Russia, and the Czech Republic are obvious. The world finals were always Canada vs USSR. Now, we see the US play for the gold at times, as well, as the Czechs, and the Swedes. Many of the top players in the league are not Canadian- Jagr, Demitra, Tkachuck, Guerin, Naslund, etc, etc. Canada still has the most talent, but likely not the most talented players (well, Lemieux, but…..). I think evidence of countires getting closer can be found on the Flyers- Amonte, Roenick, and LeClair make up the first ever 3 American players, with 300 goals each, on one team; however, if this is the first time ever, I would say we still have quite a bit of catching up to do.

    Overall, good piece, tho. It is nice to recognize the growth of other nations, but, as an American, I know as well as many others- the rest of the world still has some work to do to try to close the gap on the hockey rich tradition of Cananda.

  24. orlandomac says:

    This moronic article is by a Wings fan…..

    and by implying Leaf fans are all morons, makes you one too.

    IN your trail of thought I guess this article makes all you Dead Thing fans morons.

    Although I would probably agree, that would be genralizing, and I am above you, and won’t stoop to your level…..

    You Moron!!!

  25. DJMerlin says:

    Canada is still by far the leader in producing quality NHL players, and no other country is really in true contention.

  26. booty says:

    This is exactly what we need. An argument-starting article that gives idiots like edmontonrules an excuse to bash the US and spout off about how great Canada is. “I hate America, Canada kicks ass, blah blah blah.”

  27. 99greatone says:

    The developement of hockey players in counrties other than canada is growing.This is narrowing the gap on canada’s lead in player developement. There are other things to work on then the players though.There is no comparison to the canadian net works that televise games.Now here is an area where the world is far behind canada.A canadian could watch a USA teams net work and wonder why are they still following the puck when its been whistled down because of that fight they need to put that camera on?I have a friend who went to a Hurricanes game and he told me that the PA anouncer was explaining to the fans in the areana what ICING and TWO LINE PASSES are.So here in the USA we have alot of new teams in areas where the fans need developement.Over all Canada has quite an edge and will for some time to come.The rest of the world is starting to catch on though. Hockey is growning but, we do have Nascar and Football,Baseball,Backetball and now we have Soccer and Lacrosse in our highschool programs.At one time canada was producing the best players in the world with a few popping up here and there.That is why the HABS made sure that for the longest time they got the top players from quebec.No wonder they have so many cups.Now some real great players are coming from countries other then Canada and apparently it bothers some of you.Not to worry though as your gifted hall of famers are retireing they are taking ownership of our teams.You have the Olympic Gold which I congatulate you on.You should be flatterd that the world is taking up a sport that was invented by your country.Which I am greatful for.I have watched so many hockey games on canadian net works that I can now sing your national anthem. Yes Canada is the leader when it comes to hockey. But the gap is closing.

  28. UsedandAbused says:

    We have plenty of excellent players such as Amonte, Roenick, LeClair, Modano, Chelios ect… Plus we rule Football, Basketball and so on… Plus I think the whole topic is just dumb…. Its almost impossible for young kids to grow up playing ice hockey when they live in Dallas. Its an expensive sport…

  29. guinsfan4life says:

    Yeah at the time they even had a Czech coach who couldn’t speak a lick of English. One reason why it is thought they had him is so he could speak and understand most of the players since he couldn’t understand English.

  30. guinsfan4life says:

    Maybe not now, but in time Europe will have caught up or come close.

  31. guinsfan4life says:

    Lacrosse is the fastest game on two feet and the oldest organized sport in the world. The American Indians played it–and it too originated in Canada–with bones and skeletons of tribes they had conquered. They’d use the leather from animals to catch the ball.

  32. guinsfan4life says:

    http://www.laxhistory.com/

    That site will tell you all about it!!

  33. Aetherial says:

    When countries assemble all-star teams there is not much to pick and choose between them.

    However, the fact that Canada could assemble another 2 all star teams of *near* their first-team caliber is the telling factor. No other nation comes close to that.

    Yes, Canada is the premier hockey nation, Yes the gap is closing but it is closing slowly. Canada is also starting to realize the gap is closing so look for some improvement here also!

  34. jacosta says:

    What you fail to realise with this ridiculous article was that all of the players you say on Detroit that are the top on the team all play really strong “Canadian Style” Hockey. Those guys were all bread on Scotty Bowman (the best coach possibly ever) style of hockey.

    Europeans have always been known to be talented in skills becuase of their great practice skills. But it has always been that the best Europeans or Americans are the ones that learn the Canadian game of Grit and Talent.

    Those guys are great but the real leaders on the team. The guys that always make the huge play, or the most timely goals are always the Canadians.

    Shanhan, Yzerman, Maltby and even Draper.

    Bring any allstar all european team (from Europe) and play them against the equivalent Canadian team on teh NHL ice surface and they will get smoked.

    Hockey Canadian style is not all about flash and dash, it also includes the smash. And the Detroit Redwings are only that good because they have the guys that can do both and do them well

    Zetterberg on anyother team would be half as good.

  35. swedishvoice says:

    I partly agree. But i have to say that Sweden, Finland, Russia and Check Rep are there equals. I’m not going to bring up alot of names due to the fackt that alot of them are playing in European leuges that are as good as the NHL only smaler.

    Excuse my poor spelling…

  36. Hat_Trick says:

    This has to be the most stupid article on here that I have ever seen. Don’t even think about comparing the Redwings to Canada. EVER. Bottom line is hockey is still Canadian not the Redwings. Oh and your only going to use 1 team to compare a country too. Reading this article made me wanna puke. Just a cheap shot to get the wings some attention on here.

  37. -momo- says:

    And Canada’s Natoinal Sport, which suprises a lot of people.

  38. KaPluie says:

    Canada doesn’t have the players who are the most talented… they just have more talented players in terms of numbers. I think you would have a very tough argument looking at the game today, saying that Canada produces the best players. They sure do produce the most though.

  39. KaPluie says:

    Hockey is no longer a Canadian game in the NHL. It has become a mix of all the different styles of hockey. I don’t think there is one team in the NHL that plays “Canadian Hockey”. All the different styles of play have melted together to creat a new style. It may have started with a Canadian influenced style, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. In fact it has improved with the increase of European players. I think that an allstar European team would put up a larger fight to an allstar Candian team than you think. As for your Zetterberg argument, you obviously haven’t seen him play very often. You just asume that because he is on the Wings, he must be getting rediculous help and chances. The truth is… the Wings would be half as good without him and Datsyuk. They are the team right now.

  40. KaPluie says:

    Hockey is no longer a Canadian game in the NHL. It has become a mix of all the different styles of hockey. I don’t think there is one team in the NHL that plays “Canadian Hockey”. All the different styles of play have melted together to create a new style. It may have started with a Canadian influenced style, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. In fact it has improved with the increase of European players. I think that an all-star European team would put up a larger fight to an all-star Canadian team than you think. As for your Zetterberg argument, you obviously haven’t seen him play very often. You just assume that because he is on the Wings, he must be getting ridiculous help and chances. The truth is… the Wings would be half as good without him and Datsyuk. They are the team right now.

  41. AmericasteamRedWings says:

    To People who actually got the article, the morons who didn’t, and Canadians(hmm…that seemed repetitive)….

    I am not saying that Canada is equaled by another country. I thought I made this clear in the “IS canada BEING CAUGHT UP TO” as in, it hasn’t happened yet.

    Secondly, I used the Wings as an example because, I NEEDED AN EXAMPLE. I wasn’t saying the NHL was like that, and I know there are alot of good Canadian players.

    Third, I wouldn’t give up our Canadian-Wings for anything. Way to totally miss the point, Nuckers.

    I was more or less pointing out that yes, the world is producing more than it had IN THE PAST, and that it was evident by looking at a collection of players such as that on the Red Wings.

    I wasnt trying to say Canada sucks, or it is slipping.

    However, it’s hockey-following population isn’t the brightest bunch, huh?

    🙂

  42. jpmac says:

    Who won the Gold Medal??? Answer that…Canada has the best players in the world. the Checks and Finland didn’t even medal, and that was the best players from anywhere. CANADA IS #1!!!

  43. Hat_Trick says:

    With what your country is going to do soon with this war, I don’t think I would be calling us “not the brightest bunch”. We know more about hockey then you think you do.

  44. JStatic87 says:

    good lookin out fellas

  45. TC_4 says:

    A lot of the top forwards and d-men in the league are European, and American. But when it gets to the playoffs, a lot of them seem to tail off, while the Canadian guys turn it up.

  46. scrub says:

    How does having a top line of a russian a swede and a Canda reject make any kind of argument towards Canada losing its hockey supremecy?

    I could make the same argument that since the line of Bertuzzi (canadien), Morrison (canadien) and Naslund (swede) which has the most goals as a line in the entire NHL means that since 2/3 of the line is canadien it means that canada is the best.

    It’s true that the rest of the world is cathching up to canada, something that has to be expected since the games has been globalized. But if you look at the juniors Canada has won 5 straight medals at the junior championship, no other nation can say this, and before that streak Canada won 5 gold medals in a row. And the top draft picks are always canadien.

    And remember the wings wouldn’t be half as good as they are without Yzerman. Since his return the wings are the hottest team in hockey.

  47. guinsfan4life says:

    Yeah I am sure it would. Lacrosse is awesome. I wish I was in an area that respected it more.

  48. Tradedude says:

    You consider Denis a backup over well! lets just say brodeur and turco and co. and you also think sakic is not good for team canada? or blake or foote? or shanahan and whole lot others, but u’d take boyle?

  49. Tradedude says:

    You consider Denis a backup over well! lets just say brodeur and turco and co. and you also think sakic is not good for team canada? or blake or foote? or shanahan and whole lot others, but u’d take boyle?

  50. Tradedude says:

    Hull born in Ontario? Well that is weird, how come he played for Team USA last season? eh

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