The NHL, National Hockey League, is made up of players and fans from around the world. Within the Western Conference is the Central Division, made up of seven teams battling it out to advance to the playoffs and make their supporters proud. This division includes teams from the U.S. and Canada: the Minnesota Wild; the Chicago Blackhawks; the St. Louis Blues; the Nashville Predators; the Dallas Stars; the Winnipeg Jets; and the Colorado Avalanche.
While many of these teams’ fans may be local, often their players are not. We wanted to see just exactly who is lacing up to take the ice within the Central Division. Let’s head to center ice and see the similar and sometimes varied backgrounds and hometowns of these professional hockey players.
While there are 170 players across these seven teams, almost half are of Canadian heritage. Several key players in this division, such as the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon (born in Halifax, Nova Scotia) and Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues (born in King City, Ontario), call the most northern country in North America their home. While over 80 players may claim a Canadian birthright, the second largest group is only represented with 30 players – the U.S.
Representing just below 20 percent of the division’s player population, it’s possible the most notable American player is Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane. He was a first overall draft pick in 2007 and has scored over 260 regular season goals in his career for the Blackhawks. He’s also a four-time All-Star and played a part in three Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013, and 2015.
Going Home Again
Digging deeper into the two groups that make up almost two-thirds – or over 110 of the 170 – of the Central Division player population, we see a breakdown of the most and least common birth states and provinces. Across the provinces and territories of Canada, Ontario sees the largest share of players with over a third of all Central Division Canadian players – like P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators, born in Toronto, and Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars hailing from Brampton.
Minnesota is the birth state of over 20 percent of Americans playing for a Central Division team. Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien hails from Roseau, Minnesota, and a fellow defender for the Colorado Avalanche, Erik Johnson, was born in Bloomington. Neighboring state, Michigan, is home to the second largest group of American players, such as Chicago Blackhawks center Tyler Motte or Vancouver Canucks center Reid Boucher.
While St. Louis is know as the Gateway to the West, it should potentially be known as the “Gateway to the North.” Over 65 percent of the Blues’ roster is made up of Canadian-born players, the largest percentage of any roster in the Central Division. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets’ roster boasts the most American-born players, whether that’s Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, or Connor Hellebuyck.
With a more multicultural lineup than most of the teams, the Nashville Predators’ roster has five Swedish players, like Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg; three Finnish players, like Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros; and two Swiss players, like Yannick Weber and Roman Josi. The Dallas Stars also have a diverse lineup, with players from the Czech Republic, Finland, France, and Sweden.
United Nations of Ice Hockey
Whether they come from Canada or America, Sweden or France, these players all put on the same pads and skates when taking the ice. Share their love of the game and pride for your team by picking up the latest officially licensed merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.com.