Hockey has been hailed and is one of the most sought after games in Canada. Although some of the most desired playing positions, such as the scoring forwards and the offensive defensemen, have been diminishing.
Last year’s NHL season saw that foreign players occupied more than half of most positions, which was unique from other seasons.
Although Canadian-born players still held most positions at the beginning of the season with more than 42%, this was a low percentage compared to the previous seasons in the league. On the other hand, U.S players made up for a little over 20%, which was an upward trend opposed to the earlier years.
Going by the surge of more American-born players playing in the NHL, will this make it a predominantly American League? There has been a debate that has since faded whether that could be a reality or not.
If going by statistics, this could be the unaccepted reality. Even though Canada boasts of more player participation today, the U.S. is apparently narrowing the gap. Which can be mainly attributed to the increase in Hockey registration rates; especially in California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and Tennessee. Auston Matthews, who grew up in Arizona, gave to birth non-traditional Hockey markets, which made U.S. pay attention.
Besides, the teams in these states appealed to the masses, promoting the games and reaching more fans. Which in turn made people attracted to the game, resulting in higher rates.
NHL teams’ activities, such as the creation of the Industry Growth Fund whose focus aimed at income generation, has since enhanced the game at youth level. IGF funds have been offering street hockey sticks and balls, training, club financial support and other club initiatives that have increased local participation by a huge percentage.
The emergence of a realistic alternative, such as the NCAA Hockey opposed to the Canadian Junior Hockey, has enabled many American players to make their NHL debuts.
By making college hockey a viable career, and community participation by some NHL teams (i.e. building rinks) has bolstered the U.S. hockey league. Informed coaching, better facilities, and other improvements will soon make the U.S. a hub for the most elite hockey talents.
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