For many Canadians, the return of hockey couldn’t come soon enough. To honour our elation about the just-launched truncated season, this edition of Map of the Week is dedicated to Canada’s national obsession. What better way to celebrate professional hockey than to delve into the geography of our country’s pro players? To this end we’ve scraped NHL.com for the hometown and age of every Canadian hockey player that laced up their skates and made an appearance in an NHL game in the most recent season (2011-12). These 525 players represent 231 municipalities and in combing through this data we found some interesting trends.
First off, it should surprise no one that Ontario is the hockey capital of Canada and can boast spawning an astonishing 210 out of 985 players in the league – that’s 21%. Toronto is the birthplace of 32 players (3% of the league!) and neighbouring communities like London, Mississauga, Oakville, Hamilton and Welland all have five or more players. In terms of cities to watch in southern Ontario, Windsor and Kitchener are churching out young talent; fourteen players (with a tender average age of just 23) got their start there.
The next significant Canadian hockey player producer is Edmonton, with 22 players – 8 more than its provincial rival Calgary. Winnipeg is the other Prairie powerhouse, with an impressive 17 players with an average age of just 24 years old. Montréal, home of the Habs, boasts 14 players and the surrounding suburbs and municipalities have generated another 20.
While the east and west coast are sleepy compared to hockey-crazed Central Canada, British Columbia and The Maritimes have contributed a respectable 55 and 26 players to the ranks of the NHL. The widespread distribution of data points on this map should prove beyond a reasonable doubt that hockey is indeed Canada’s national pastime. Game on!