By Brandon Graver
The graphic above shows the distribution of Chicago Blackhawks players home countries. Canada tops the chart with 11 players, while Great Britain and Finland are the least represented with one player each.
Ice hockey has had a longstanding history of being a sport dominated by the the North American powerhouses Canada and the USA, as well as Northern and Eastern European countries and Russia. From way back when Canada and Russia leveled the opposition through the Olympics in the 1960’s and no country could come close to taking a top 2 spot, to the last Olympics where Germany, a country that had placed 5th at best in the history of their participation, had come in 2nd just behind the Russians. While rules have changed restricting NHL player involvement in the Olympics, the game has been growing tremendously in previously unnoticeable countries such as Great Britain. Finding NHL quality players from would’ve been impossible two decades ago, but now that possibility is here and they’ve made their impression on the league.
The Blackhawks very own Brandon Perlini reigns from Great Britain. The 23 year old drafted from the Ontario Hockey League, the OHL, is one of two players in the NHL born in Great Britain. As recently as 2019, Great Britain managed to qualify from the 2019 World Championships, and while managing to only take a single win during the whole tournament, it shows improvement that within the next decade, Great Britain could manage to compete among the best.
However, the NHL isn’t the only league to place their sights on England. As recently as 2016, the multi-national Russian league, the KHL, a league that comes the closest to rivaling the NHL in talent, had discussed the possibility of stretching their league as far as England. Currently, the league stretches all the way from China to Finland. By expanding the league, the would be introducing more eyes, more money, and more skill to Great Britain as a whole, spurring the development of new talent.
The public graphic can be found here.