CANADIA’S NATIONAL SPORT CHALLENGED!
Only three of the seven Canadian teams in the NHL qualified for the Stanley cup playoffs in 2019. All three were defeated in the first round of competition. The Stanley Cup will remain in the USA again this year. Coincidently, the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup was in 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings under Jacques Demers.
The Canadian Under18 national team failed to earn a medal in this year’s International U18 tournament last month and the Canadian team failed to medal in the World Junior Championship in 2019. Canada has won Gold only twice since 2009 when they won their 5th consecutive Championship.
The number of Canadian players in the NHL has been steadily dwindling for years. In 1970, the NHL was almost totally played by Canadians with 96% of the players.
With the influx of European players in the 90’s and the growth of hockey in the United States since the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980, the Canadian dominance in the number of players playing in the NHL has been reduced to 45%. The chart below clearly shows the changes in the NHL population since 1970.
This past season, 18 of the top 50 scoring leaders were Europeans while 10 were Americans. That leaves 22 Canadians. Still within the 45% mark.
The number of European goalies has been increasing in the NHL in the last few years. This season, of the top 15 NHL goalies who played at least 30 games, 8 of them were European, leaving 5 Canadian goalies and only 2 Americans. The Canadian Hockey League disallowed European goalies from being drafted in 2014 but reinstated their eligibility for the 2019 import draft.
With the NHL now a global sport, Canada must stay vigilant and creative in developing their young players if they want to continue to be the leader of NHL players. Based on today’s conditions and the competition for players, supplying almost half of the NHL players could be considered as dominant as it was back in 1970 when Canada monopolized the league. The challenge for Canada is to maintain that position! After all, it’s Canada’s National Sport.