- A new study finds that the Montreal Canadiens have more Canadians on the team than any other team in Canada.
- Though Canadians once dominated the NHL, they have occupied a shrinking proportion of the total players in the NHL.
The Athletic's annual NHL demographics study was released today and revealed that the Montreal Canadiens are the most Canadian team in the league.
That's right! The "Flying Frenchmen" (as they used to be referred to) are more Canadian than "Canada's team," the Toronto Maple Leafs. The study, authored by James Mirtle, shows that 68% of Habs players are of Canadian origin compared to only 48% for the Leafs.
The Habs, are led by B.C. natives Shea Weber and Carey Price. Other core players include Edmonton-born Brendan Gallagher, Victoriaville's Philip Danault, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts native Jonathan Drouin, and Toronto-born Max Domi.
Players like Ann Arbour, Michigan's Jeff Petry, and Finnish dynamo Jesperi Kotkaniemi round out the 11% American and 21% European contingents on the Canadiens.
Don Cherry has said in the past that in order to win, teams need to "be more Canadian." He also frequently calls European players "soft" and has even said the Leafs would never win because they don't have enough Canadians.
I wonder what Cherry, a polarizing hockey commentator, thinks about his least favourite team being the most Canadian in the NHL.
Mirtle does admit that this study "doesn't mean a whole lot," but it does bring up an interesting point about the demographic makeup of the NHL.
The league is frequently criticized for a lack of diversity. Indeed, its players are disproportionately white. But the NHL is also one of the most culturally-diverse leagues. A study conducted by The Hockey News in 2018 shows that there are 18 countries represented in the NHL (even Australia!).
Though it falls behind the NBA or MLB in terms of diversity, the NHL is slowly making inroads in countries not traditionally associated with hockey. In 2015, the New York Islanders drafted the first-ever Chinese-born player.
Canadians, Americans, and Swedes make up the top three nationalities represented in the NHL. The number of Canadians in the league has drastically dropped since the mid-90s when over 75% of NHL players came from Canada.
America has seen the biggest surge in hockey popularity, according to Mirtle. States like Arizona and California are seeing more and more amateur hockey leagues spring up and are producing players that compete at high levels. Maple Leafs star Austin Matthews was born in Arizona, in fact.
Today, Canadians are still the most represented, but their total number has dropped to 42.6%.
A study done by Sportsnet in 2017 indicated that Canada's most popular hockey teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs (27%) and the Montreal Canadiens (26%). Obviously, provincial boundaries are the largest factors when it comes to who cheers for what team.
Mirtle's study raises another interesting point. Anyone who's into hockey knows that the French hockey media has a bias for Quebec-born players.
Much like Don Cherry, they'll complain about a "decline" in the Habs because of the lack of Quebecers. Though, Quebec-born hockey players only make up 4.9% of Canadian players.
Funny enough, last year's Stanley Cup winners, the St. Louis Blues, had the most Canadians on their team. Does Don Cherry have a point? (Definitely not).
So, maybe... this is Montreal's year to win the Cup?
What do you all think about the Habs being the more Canadian than the Leafs?
Go Habs Go!