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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 Canadian’s heritage. Although with the ongoing
?Americanizing? of Canada, it is only a matter of time before Canada’s 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 everyone’s game and not just Canada’s.

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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, Canada’s 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
nationalist’s 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 it’s theirs,
American’s 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

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 won’t be
Americanized in the hearts of Canadians, it’s hockey.


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