Is Hockey Being Lost as a Canadian Game? Hockey, to many Canadians it is their favourite sport or pastime. This game is a part of Canadians heritage. Although with the ongoing Americanizing of Canada, it is only a matter of time before Canadas game is changed as well. The NHL, National Hockey League, is the professional league for hockey. In the past, and still today, Canadians have made up the greater part of the leagues players.
The article NHL Melting Pot gives statistics and a graph of which nationalities were and are playing in the league. In 1967, Canadian born players made up nearly 97% of the NHL. With the influx of players from other countries, the NHL is beginning to look like the United Nations on ice. (Card#3) Now Canadians are only 66.2% of the population in the league. The American born players are slowly sneaking up at 16.6%, the second largest nationality.
The gap does not look that tight, however when you consider the time in which this jump has taken place, it will get closer sooner instead of later. In the article, The New Ice Age it gives statistics on the recent jump in American and other players into the NHL. In 1983, out of 21 teams there were 409 Canadian born players to 68 American born players and 47 European players (Only showing the top 25 players on each teams roster). In 1992, out of 24 teams there were 396 Canadian born players to 101 American players and a surprising 103 Europeans (Only showing the top 25 players on each of the teams). The increase of American and European players in recent years is changing the look of the NHL. (Card#2) The American, and European invasion is making hockey everyones game and not just Canadas.
Why would this bother Canadians? Why not share their national pride in hockey? Many Canadians feel that hockey is the last thing that they can truly call their own. Hockey Night In Canada has been one of the five most- watched television shows here (Canada) every year since the dawn of television, and, in Parliament, a National Hockey Caucus monitors the Canadian-ness of the game. (Card#5) This was said by Ken Dryden, a former NHL player in an interview with reporter Mary Williams Walsh is Saskatchewan. Dryden says that one by one the things that Canada stands for and its time honoured institutions are being dismantled. The fear is that in the end, Canadas culture and society will be indistinguishable from the U.S.
, Hockey is more than the Canadian national pastime: it is a passion, a cultural icon, as tied up in the it-ness of Canada as soccer is to Brazil or the bullfight to Spain. Card#5) All across the country nationalists see hockey as another precious piece of the country slipping away into the American market. The NHL itself which used to be dominated by Canadians is even becoming more and more like the other U.S. leagues as far as the way it is run and the players involved. The Winnipeg Jets were yet another Canadian team that had to move to the U.S. This is becoming a normal event for Northern teams. The Cities to the South are saying they have bigger markets and the money to do better. The NHL, according to Dryden, is not concerned with the game anymore, only the money. This is where the difference between Canadian thought and American thinking comes into play.
Canadians are concerned with the game because its theirs, Americans see the game as a money making opportunity and a business. Gary Bettman , the commissioner of the NHL, has not made matters any better, or easier. In 1996 the Winnipeg Jets left Winnipeg for Phoenix Arizona, with absolutely no sympathy from Gary Bettman. Thousands of upset fans went out onto the ice after the game, and stayed for a long, long time. We thought Gary Bettman was going to be the saviour of the NHL. All he did was Americanize the product.
said long time season ticket holder Ron Wersch. The Jets were just another team in the loss to the American market. The Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado a couple of years ago as well. And threats of losing more teams such as the Calgary Flames or the Edmonton Oilers or the Ottawa Senators are always lingering in the air. For many Canadian hockey lovers this does not sit very well.
One of those die hards is Don Cherry. Cherry is a retired coach in the NHL, now a broadcaster and to many people a figurehead for hockey, and even more so Canada. Cherry provides some reasons for hockey leaving the grasp of Canadians. Foreigners have really brought a lot to hockey. They brought helmets. They brought visors. They brought diving, laying there and letting on that your hurt.
They brought advertising on the boards and ice. Beautiful. This is not the kind of hockey people like. These are the aspects of the game that Cherry says have taken away, piece by piece, the Canadian game. Hockey being lost as a Canadian game? The game itself may be taking flight down south, but the hearts of Canadians will always have a place for Hockey. If there is one aspect of Canadian culture that wont be Americanized in the hearts of Canadians, its hockey.