The National Hockey League

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The National Hockey League (NHL; French: Ligue nationale de hockey—LNH) is a professional ice hockey league composed of 30 member clubs: 23 in the United States and 7 in Canada. Headquartered in New York City, the NHL is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.

The National Hockey League was organized on November 26, 1917, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909. It started with four teams (all based in Canada) and, through a series of expansions, contractions, and relocations, is now composed of thirty active franchises. The "nation" referred to by the league's name was Canada, although the league has now been binational since 1924 when its first team in the United States, the Boston Bruins, began play. After a labour-management dispute that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004–05 season, the league resumed play under a new collective agreement that included a salary cap. In 2009, the NHL enjoyed record highs in terms of sponsorships, attendance, and television audiences.

The league draws many highly skilled players from all over the world and currently has players from approximately 20 different countries. Canadians have historically constituted the majority of the players in the league, with a dramatically increasing percentage of American and European players in recent years.

Current season leaders

The top five point scorers in the 2013–14 season were Sidney Crosby (104), Ryan Getzlaf (87), Claude Giroux (86), Tyler Seguin (84), and Corey Perry (82). The top goal scorers were Alex Ovechkin (51), Perry (43), Joe Pavelski (41), Max Pacioretty (39), and Seguin (37). The top five scoring defencemen were Erik Karlsson (74), Duncan Keith (61), Shea Weber (56), Dustin Byfuglien (56), and Victor Hedman (55). The top goaltenders (by wins) were Semyon Varlamov (41),Antti Niemi (39), Marc-Andre Fleury (39), Ben Bishop (37) and Tuukka Rask (36).

Origin of players

In addition to Canadian and American born and trained players, who have historically composed a large majority of NHL rosters, the NHL also draws players from an expanding pool of other nations where organized and professional hockey is played. A steady stream of European players began entering the league in the 1970s, continuing into the 1980s. Most of the first wave of Europeans came from Sweden and Finland, with a small number of defectors from the Soviet Bloc. Since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, political/ideological restrictions on the movement of hockey players from this region have disappeared, leading to a large influx of players mostly from Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia into the NHL. Swedes, Finns, and other Western Europeans, who were always free to move to North America, came to the league in greater numbers than before. Many of the league's top players today come from these European countries, including: Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Lundqvist, Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Teemu Selanne, Zdeno Chara, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexander Ovechkin. European players were drafted and signed by NHL teams in an effort to bring in more "skilled offensive players", although recently there has been a decline in European players as more American players enter the league. The addition of European players changed the style of play in the NHL and European style hockey has been integrated into the NHL game. Conversely Canadian coaches and the Canadian style of play have been embraced by many European countries. Because of the continued success of Canadian teams in world tournaments many other countries are trying to model their development programs after Hockey Canada's.

Since 1998, the league has voluntarily suspended its all star game and expanded the traditional all star break duringWinter Olympic years to allow NHL players an opportunity to represent their respective countries. The 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, an NHL city. Conversely, the IIHF World Championships are held at the same time as the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Thus, NHL players generally only join their respective country's team in the World Championships if their respective NHL team has been eliminated from Stanley Cup contention.

The NHL has players from 18 different countries, with the majority (52.0 percent during the 2007–08 NHL season) coming from Canada. The following table shows the origins of every player (skaters and goaltenders) who played an NHL regular season game in the given year. The table follows the Hockey Hall of Fame convention of classifying players by the currently existing countries in which their birthplaces are located, without regard to their citizenship or where they were trained.


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    Name Born / Since / At Died Languages
    1Kristiāns PelšsKristiāns Pelšs09.09.199210.06.2013de, en, fr, lv, ru
    2Daniil SobchenkoDaniil Sobchenko13.04.199107.09.2011de, en, pl, ru
    3Aleksejs ČerepanovsAleksejs Čerepanovs15.01.198913.10.2008lv, ru
    4Rick RypienRick Rypien16.05.198415.08.2011en
    5Jans  MareksJans Mareks31.12.197907.09.2011lv, ru
    6Malinda McCreadyMalinda McCready30.11.197517.02.2013en, lv, ru
    7Kaspars AstašenkoKaspars Astašenko27.02.197521.11.2012lv
    8Ruslan SaleiRuslan Salei02.11.197407.09.2011de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    9Karlis SkrastinsKarlis Skrastins09.07.197407.09.2011en, lv, pl, ru
    10Sergejs ŽoltoksSergejs Žoltoks02.12.197203.11.2004en, lv, ru
    11Valeri  KarpovValeri Karpov05.08.197110.10.2014en, lv, ru
    12Victor HatulevVictor Hatulev17.02.195507.10.1994en, lv, ru
    13Ivan  HlinkaIvan Hlinka26.01.195016.08.2004en, lv, ru
    14Valeri KharlamovValeri Kharlamov14.01.194827.08.1981de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    15Gilles TremblayGilles Tremblay17.12.193826.11.2014en, fr
    16Murray   OliverMurray Oliver14.11.193723.11.2014en, ru
    17Sven TumbaSven Tumba27.08.193101.10.2011de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    18Denis BrodeurDenis Brodeur12.10.193026.09.2013de, en, fr
    19Terry SawchukTerry Sawchuk29.12.192931.05.1970de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    20Boris KulaginBoris Kulagin31.12.192425.01.1988en, ru