I was watching the Minnesota Wild/Columbus Blue Jackets game on Saturday night, and the announcer commented that defenseman Eric Reitz was the only United States born player for the Wild (incidentally, the Blue Jackets only have two U.S. players on their roster). So I stopped to think, and realized just how few U.S. born players there are in the NHL. I hadn’t really considered it, but when pressed I couldn’t come up with many U.S. born players for any team off the top of my head. So I started checking, and found this article from about a year ago.
While I won’t challenge Bob Duff about the quality of his picks substantively, I thought you all here at Ladies… might want to see how we grow ‘em here in America to compete with the Russians, Finns, Canucks and others in this frozen pond sport. So, here’s the top 10 picks, with my photo choices and running commentary for each, along with a bit of interesting information taken from Bob Duff.
1. Frank Brimsek -born in Eveleth, Minnesota, home of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
2. Chris Chelios – The U.S.-born player who has played in the most regular season games and more playoff games than any player ever.
3. Mike Modano -Has only played for the Minnesota North Stars and the subsequent Dallas Stars during his 20+ year career.
4. Pat LaFontaine -Concussions shortened his career and artificially suppressed his stats.
5. Joe Mullen -Launched his skating days playing roller-hockey growing up in Hell’s Kitchen with his brother Brian.
6. Brian Leetch – His 71 points in one season are a record for an American-born NHL defenseman in his rookie year.
7. Phil Housley – The U.S.-born NHL record holder for assists, Housley jumped right from Minnesota high-school hockey at South St. Paul to the NHL with the Sabres, never playing a single game of minor pro hockey throughout his career.
8. Mark Howe – Was only 16 when he won a silver medal playing for the United States in the 1972 Winter Olympics.
9. Mike Richter – He also played for the United States in the Olympics in three different decades – in 1988, 1998 and 2002 – finally earning a medal (silver) at the Salt Lake City games.
10. Jeremy Roenick – The first U.S.-born NHLer to produce back-to-back 50-goal campaigns, and was one of only two Chicago players to achieve this feat (along with Bobby Hull).