Like other professional sports, the National Hockey League (NHL) includes conferences and divisions. Its most recent shakeup, however, was not too long ago. Before the first puck hit the ice for the 2013-14 season, teams were shuffled around and came to rest in divisions that made the most sense geographically. The Columbus Blue Jackets, now in the Eastern Conference in the Metropolitan Division, were affected by this change; they spent the first years of their young franchise in the Western Conference.
The rest of the Metropolitan Division consists of the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals. The most recent Stanley Cup winner of the bunch, the Penguins, just happened to win it all in the 2015-2016 season. Let’s consider the teams’ rosters to see who hails from where as well as which countries, provinces, and states produced some of the world’s best hockey players.
The Big Three and Beyond
As with many NHL teams, Canada is the origin of nearly half of the players that hit the ice for the Metropolitan Division. Out of 192 total players, 86 come from Canada. Another large chunk (over 27 percent) of players come from the U.S. Other countries represented in this NHL division are Sweden with just under 9 percent, Russia with a bit over 5 percent, the Czech Republic with over 4 percent, and Finland with five players, making up almost 3 percent.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, the defending champs, have a couple notable Canadians on their roster. Sidney Crosby hails from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, and Matt Murray comes from Thunder Bay, Ontario. In addition to last season’s win, the Penguins have brought home the Stanley Cup three other times since becoming a franchise in 1967.
The Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals feature Swedish players in the Metropolitan Division. The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2005-06, but they haven’t enjoyed much success in recent years – they’ve only made the playoffs once since their Cup win. And the Capitals have had quite a bit of postseason appearances (26 times in 42 seasons), but they’ve yet to win a Stanley Cup.
Divisions, by States and Provinces
Breaking down the division’s rosters even further, we can see which Canadian provinces and U.S. states grew professional hockey players. Ontario, Canada, owns the biggest piece of the Metropolitan Division pie, offering up 48 players. Saskatchewan is the home of 10 players, followed by Alberta (seven players), and Quebec, British Columbia, and Manitoba, which can each claim six home-province players.
South of the Canadian border, the U.S. states represented in this division tend to be mostly northern (Minnesota tops the list with 11 players). Other northern states are Massachusetts (nine players), New York (eight players), Michigan (five players), and Connecticut (three players). There are several other states, though, that contributed to the Metropolitan Division, including Illinois and California (two each); a slew contributed one, including Texas, Florida, and Indiana.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have a couple notable chaps from the U.S. on their team, including Nick Foligno who hails from Buffalo, N.Y., and Seth Jones, the Arlington, Texas native. Until Las Vegas makes its team debut next season, the Blue Jackets remain one of the league’s newest teams and have only made the playoffs twice over their 16 seasons.
The Philadelphia Flyers have players from many different areas, but Claude Giroux, who comes from Hearst, Ontario, and Shayne Gostisbehere, from Pembroke Pines, Fla., are a couple prominent players. The Flyers have been a successful team over the last 49 years, having reached the postseason 38 times. They have also won the Stanley Cup twice.
When you compare the teams with one another, it becomes evident that the New York Islanders have the most Canadians on their team, including John Tavares from Mississauga, Ontario, and Johnny Boychuk, from Edmonton, Alberta. The Islanders had an extremely successful spell a few decades ago when they won the Stanley Cup four times in a row from 1980 to 1983.
On the other side, the New Jersey Devils have the most Americans. The team enjoyed a spate of Stanley Cup success, bringing it home in 1995, 2000, and 2003. The New York Rangers have more Americans than Canadians (the only team in the Metropolitan Division with this stat). The Rangers are an Original Six team that has won the Stanley Cup four times (the last win was in 1994).
The Wide World of the NHL
The Metropolitan Division hosts a ton of players who come from around the globe. From Canada and the U.S. to Sweden, the Czech Republic, and beyond, they’ve all come together to pound the ice for their team.
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