Hockey is not the game it was in the 1950s, 70s or even the 90s. This is at least partly because the game in previous decades (as we knew it in North America) was played completely by North Americans (most of whom were from Canada). This has changed dramatically, especially over the past 20 years, as even players from the former iron curtain countries started to play in the NHL and for the Winnipeg Jets.
In the 1970-71 season, 96% of players who played during the regular season were of Canadian heritage; about 2.5% were American with 5 other nations making up the remainder. Twenty years later Canadians made up just less than 3-quarters of the league’s players. The US provided 17% with 10 other countries having at least 1 player in the NHL. This past season Canada’s share of NHL players, which has been relatively consistent the past decade, was at about 54%. Americans made up 24% of 2011-12 NHL rosters, with Sweden next at about 7%. More nations than ever, fully 19 of them, had at least 1 player on an NHL regular season roster last season.
The Winnipeg Jets have a roster made up of a players originating from a broad range of countries. Here’s how their current roster (as listed on their website, including free-agent signings) stacks up as far as nation of origin goes:
Canada–7 (Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Chris Thorburn, Kyle Wellwood, Grant Clitsome and Paul Postma);
United States–7 (Jim Slater, Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian, Dustin Byfuglien, Ron Hainsey, Mark Stuart and Al Montoya);
Finland–2 (Olli Jokinen and Antti Miettinen);
Russia–1 (Alex Burmistrov);
Ukraine–1 (Alexei Ponikarovsky);
Kazakhstan–1 (Nik Andropov);
Sweden–1 (Toby Enstrom);
Czech Republic–1 (Ondrej Pavelec)
Thirty-nine players are listed as being in the Jets’ system, meaning as of now they’re slated to play in the minors, junior, college or possibly overseas. Twenty-five of the 39 hale from Canada, 11 from the US and 1 each from Russia, Sweden and Latvia.