Feb 17, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
Today is Hockey Day in America, an all-day celebration of the sport throughout the United States. NBC will air nine hours of live coverage across its networks; here at PHT, we’re taking a look at stories of hockey’s impact across the country.
The U.S. hasn’t always been a world force when it comes to hockey, but these days it very much is.
Following Team USA’s second World Junior Championship win in four years, hockey is becoming a big deal in the States, thanks in large part to youngsters taking a shine to the game.
Over the past few years, USA Hockey has seen the growth of hockey in the country grow dramatically. Enrollment numbers have more than doubled since 1991-92, from just over 230,000 in that year to over 550,000 in 2011-12. When you factor in rising numbers of coaches and officials, the number of people actively participating in hockey is huge.
USA Hockey has come a long way in a short period of time, and we’re seeing that at the NHL level. When you turn back the clock to 1987-88 season, there were only 118 Americans having played at least one game in the league.
Now that number has more than doubled to 237 players.
Add in the fact that there are more NHL teams playing in the U.S. now than back then, and you’ve got a good explanation as to why the United States has become a force at the senior international level.
Much of it started at USA Hockey headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. and Ann Arbor, Mich. As Mike Modano tells Mike Morreale of NHL.com, changing the world’s view of American hockey has been going on since the 80s.
“That perception they had about us … we were so young at the time that we wanted to change that perception. It was almost like the Europeans didn’t think we belonged on their level. We always wanted to prove to other countries that we could play with anyone.”
When it comes to the USA, you usually think of colder climate areas as the hockey hotbeds. But in recent years, non-traditional markets have become booming places for the game. As Chris Peters of United States of Hockey shared, growth in the Sun Belt states has been substantial.
California, for example, has seen enrollment rise 322 percent between 1990-91 and 2010-11. You only need to look at guys like California native Emerson Etem, a first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2011, to see how well things are working. In 2010, Beau Bennett became the highest-drafted California-born player ever when Pittsburgh selected him 20th overall.
The same can be said of Florida (804 percent growth) and Atlanta, GA (478 percent). Sure the Thrashers are gone, but the Lightning and Panthers are still going strong and helping spur interest in the game.
Those benefits are paying off with prospects coming from all corners of the country.
As an example, look where many players from this year’s gold medal-winning WJC team came from. Seth Jones, who could possibly be the No. 1 overall pick in 2013, is from Texas. Rocco Grimaldi is from California, and Shayne Gostisbehere is from Florida.
It speaks to how wide-ranging the game has become, which can only mean good things for the United States heading into the future.
Jun 19, 2013, 3:10 PM EDT
Detroit could have quite the sports and entertainment district.
Jun 19, 2013, 2:43 PM EDT
His choice. Wasn’t required to go.
Jun 19, 2013, 2:39 PM EDT
Canada last hosted in 2012.
Jun 19, 2013, 1:35 PM EDT
“He’s forechecked, done well in the battles as far as trying to come up with the puck, all the things we ask him to do.”
Jun 19, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT
Trio was huge against L.A. in the Western Conference finals.
Jun 19, 2013, 1:01 PM EDT
But let’s just wait and see for sure.
Jun 19, 2013, 12:36 PM EDT
Despite recent reports.
Jun 19, 2013, 12:20 PM EDT
News and notes entering Wednesday’s Stanley Cup Final showdown — will Boston continue to stymie the power play?
Jun 19, 2013, 12:17 PM EDT
He spent all of last season with AHL Peoria.
Jun 19, 2013, 11:57 AM EDT
Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking.
Jun 19, 2013, 11:35 AM EDT
GM David Poile might be the busiest man in hockey.
Jun 19, 2013, 11:27 AM EDT
Based on a couple of reports, the answer appears to be yes.
Jun 19, 2013, 11:17 AM EDT
“If you move up, there’s a chance to maybe get that better player.”
Jun 19, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT
The duo spent the last three seasons together in Vancouver.
Jun 19, 2013, 10:41 AM EDT
He’ll be in charge of working with defensemen.
Jun 19, 2013, 10:14 AM EDT
Chicago has once again found themselves behind the Bruins.
Jun 19, 2013, 9:51 AM EDT
Both were scheduled to become restricted free agents this summer.
Jun 19, 2013, 9:11 AM EDT
Ken Cruise showed off his work at Game 3.
Jun 19, 2013, 9:04 AM EDT
Boston has a 2-1 series lead.
Jun 19, 2013, 8:03 AM EDT
Looks like Seth Jones might not be the number one selection.
- Are the Pens leaning towards trading Letang? (Updated) 41
- Playoffs Tonight: Can ‘Hawks solve Rask? 17
- Sakic: If we keep top pick, we’ll likely draft a forward 16
- Report: Flyers will buy out Briere, Bryzgalov another story (Updated) 36
- Report: Flyers, Ducks talking about Bobby Ryan 60
- Marchand accuses ‘kitty cat’ Shaw of eye gouging 96
- Quenneville says Hossa is ‘likely’ to play Game 4 12
- Datsyuk announces three-year, $22.5 million extension with Red Wings 12
- Bruins go ‘above and beyond’ to take 2-1 series lead 47
- Chicago’s powerless power play — it’s a problem 4
- Heat rally to beat Spurs in Game 6
- PBT: After blowing lead, can Spurs rebound in Game 7?
- CSN: Report: Hernandez 'not ruled out' as suspect
- PHT: Can Blackhawks solve Rask in Game 4?
- PST: On-fire Altidore lifts USA over Honduras in WCQ
- Underseeded? Nadal draws No. 5 at Wimbledon
- CSN: Celtics-Clippers KG, Rivers trade talks dead