Saturday, July 10, 2004

Where Minor League Hockey Players Come From

This is intended to be a sort of follow up to my original piece, Where NHL Players Come From. The whole idea of the follow up is that I have received a lot of responses to the tune of "My state has all these minor league programs, so you can't say there is no grassroots talent production going on." The assumption is that these minor league players are not imported talent, but rather local hot spots of hockey production that exist in the South. I will analyze the rosters of southern teams in the five leagues which the NHL recognizes as "Minor Professional Hockey" Leagues: SEHL (4 teams), AHL (2 teams), ECHL (15 teams), UHL (2 teams), and CHL (11 teams). Disclaimer: The following are lists of the places of origin for all current minor league players whose team is located in the South, based on the active rosters from their respective organizations as of 7/9/04. This data is intended to give a general idea of where players are coming from. I do not vouch for the numbers to be precisely accurate, as some players were not on the active rosters when I researched the subject, and I did not feel the need to search these players out individually. In addition, a few obscure players had no birthplace listed. The purpose is to show that, even if strong minor league programs exist in the South, the majority of participating players were outsourced from the North. SEHL (4 teams) Canada Ontario: 25 British Columbia: 4 Nova Scotia: 3 Alberta: 2 Saskatchewan: 2 Quebec: 2 Manitoba: 1 New Brunswick: 1
Total Canada: 40
United States Massachusetts: 5 New York: 5 Pennsylvania: 4 Michigan: 4 New Jersey: 3 Illinois: 3 Connecticut: 2 Washington: 2 Ohio: 2 Minnesota: 2 Virginia: 1 Wisconsin: 1 New Hampshire: 1
Total United States: 35
Europe/Other Czech Rep: 3 Slovakia: 2 Switzerland: 1
Total Europe/Other: 6
Total SEHL Players Documented: 81 SEHL Percentages: Canada: 49.4% United States: 43.2% Europe/Other: 7.4% [Cape Fear FireAntz, Huntsville Channel Cats, Knoxville Ice Bears, Winston-Salem T-Birds] AHL (2 teams) Canada British Columbia: 8 Alberta: 6 Ontario: 5 Saskatchewan: 4 Quebec: 3 Manitoba: 3 Newfoundland: 1
Total Canada: 30
United States Massachusetts: 3 New York: 2 Michigan: 1 Illinois: 1 Minnesota: 1
Total United States: 8
Europe/Other Czech Rep: 3 Sweden: 3 Russia: 2 Ukraine: 1 Finland: 1 France: 1 Kazakhstan: 1 Austria: 1
Total Europe/Other: 13
Total AHL Players Documented: 51 AHL Percentages: Canada: 58.8% United States: 15.7% Europe/Other: 25.5% [Norfolk Admirals, Houston Aeros] ECHL(15 teams) Canada Ontario: 79 Alberta: 27 Quebec: 22 Saskatchewan: 19 British Columbia: 17 Manitoba: 10 New Brunswick: 2 Nova Scotia: 1 Newfoundland: 1
Total Canada: 178
United States Minnesota: 20 Michigan: 17 Massachusetts: 16 New York: 11 Illinois: 8 Pennsylvania: 4 Wisconsin: 4 New Jersey: 2 Connecticut: 2 Washington: 2 Ohio: 2 New Hampshire: 2 Rhode Island: 2 Oregon: 1 California: 1 Maryland: 1 Nebraska: 1 Wyoming: 1 North Dakota: 1
Total United States: 98
Europe/Other Ukraine: 5 Czech Rep: 3 Japan: 2 Latvia: 2 Russia: 2 Sweden: 2 Slovakia: 1 Finland: 1 Kazakhstan: 1
Total Europe/Other: 19
Total ECHL Players Documented: 295 ECHL Percentages: Canada: 60.3% United States: 33.2% Europe/Other: 6.4% [Augusta Lynx, Charlotte Checkers, Columbia Inferno, Florida Everblades, Greensboro Generals, Gwinnett Gladiators, Greenville Grrrowl, Louisiana IceGators, Mississippi Sea Wolves, Pee Dee Pride, Pensacola Ice Pilots, Roanoke Express, South Carolina Stingrays, Texas Wildcatters, Wheeling Nailers] CHL(11 teams) Canada Ontario: 54 Alberta: 22 Quebec: 13 British Columbia: 9 Saskatchewan: 8 Manitoba: 4 Nova Scotia: 2 Prince Edward Island: 2 New Brunswick: 1 Newfoundland: 1 Northwest Territories: 1
Total Canada: 117
United States Michigan: 6 Illinois: 4 Minnesota: 3 Massachusetts: 2 New York: 2 Wisconsin: 2 Pennsylvania: 1 Connecticut: 1 Ohio: 1 Rhode Island: 1 North Dakota: 1 Oklahoma: 1 Utah: 1
Total United States: 26
Europe/Other Slovakia: 3 Czech Rep: 2 Sweden: 1 Kazakhstan: 1 Slovenia: 1
Total Europe/Other: 8
Total CHL Players Documented: 151 CHL Percentages: Canada: 77.5% United States: 17.2% Europe/Other: 5.3% [Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, Fort Worth Brahmas, Memphis RiverKings, Austin Ice Bats, Corpus Christi Rayz, Laredo Bucks, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, Amarillo Gorillas, Lubbock Cotton Kings, Odessa Jackalopes, San Angelo Saints] UHL (2 teams) Canada Ontario: 11 Quebec: 8 Manitoba: 4 British Columbia: 3 Saskatchewan: 3 Alberta: 2 New Brunswick: 2 Prince Edward Island: 1
Total Canada: 34
United States Minnesota: 3 Michigan: 2 Massachusetts: 1 Illinois: 1 Alaska: 1 Connecticut: 1 New Hampshire: 1
Total United States: 10
Europe/Other None
Total Europe/Other: 0
Total UHL Players Documented: 44 UHL Percentages: Canada: 77.3% United States: 22.7% Europe/Other: 0% [Missouri River Otters, Richmond RiverDogs] Analysis As seen in the data, only one player, goalie Adam Barbour, was born in the region covered by the SEHL (Fairfax, Virginia). Barbour played four years of college hockey for the University of Delaware, then for the Northern Michigan Predators, and, finally, the SEHL. Barbour is my only documented southern-born player playing for a southern team in one of the five minor hockey leagues. That's 34 teams and 622 players documented, and only one playing in the region in which he was born. The sad truth about the outsourcing of hockey in the South. There are few European/Other players in the minor leagues simply because players from overseas tend to play in their own countries' minors before jumping to the NHL, due to the strength of tier leagues in places like Sweden, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. As the strength of the minor leagues increase, so does the likelihood that the players were born in Europe/Other, for example, the AHL (25.5%) versus the ECHL (6.4%). The overall trend I expected is shown: despite the ability to boast about minor league systems in their backyard, the South still lacks the solid production of talent, whether NHL or even minor league. Sure, having a strong minor league system is a step in the right direction, but their only "local" talent is in Canadian/Northern born and grown talent, outsourced to fill the void in hockey talent in the South. I'd like to see the few Dan Hinote's of the South foster their careers below the Mason-Dixon, as well as a significant increase in hockey production in the South. I'd say it's reasonable to have more than one local boy playing for your southern minor league teams.


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