Nontraditional Birthplaces of NHL Players

If you have not seen it yet, you need to watch Hockey Tutorials’ video, “Hockey in Kenya – This Is Africa.”

Americans and Canadians take for granted how assessable hockey is. Even if you live in an impoverished area there are still opportunities for you to pick up the game. Chris Stewart and Anthony Stewart both have an amazing story of how hockey helped them escape the streets of Toronto.

Percentage-wise, Canadians make up over 50% of all NHL players. Americans make up a little less than a quarter. That leaves roughly 25% of the rest of the world to share the pie.

Which leads to the question, which countries would you least have expected to be the birthplace of NHL players?


Brunei, pronounced Broo-ny or Broo-nay, is a small country located on the north coast of Malaysia. It recently (relatively speaking) gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1984. Its main source of wealth is petroleum and natural gas. It also has the distinction of being one of two countries to have a public debt of 0%.

Craig Adams was born in the oil town of Seria, Brunei, in 1977. His father was a businessman who specialized in the oil and gas industry. Seria was also the location of the famous Brunei Revolt.

After his birth, Adams and his family moved to the Lake Bonavista community of Calgary, Alberta. He has carved himself a nice NHL career after playing four years of college hockey at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


When you think of Brazil you think of the Amazon River and soccer. However, it is also the birthplace of hard-hitting Los Angeles Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr.

Regehr was born to Mennonite missionary parents. His parents were followers of the Christian-based group of Anabaptist. He spent his first three years in Brazil before making a stop in Indonesia. His family finally settled in Saskatchewan when he was seven years old.

His hockey career would take him from Kamloops all the way to Los Angeles where is currently playing.


Ireland is the birthplace of Sid Finney, Bobby Kirk, Jim McFadden, Sammy McManus, and Jack Riley. All of whom were old timers who played in the league before the Toronto Maple Leafs won their last Cup.

Not known to many, Owen Nolan was also born in Ireland. Belfast, Northern Ireland, to be precise.

He emigrated to Canada when he was very young and just like every other Canadian boy, he was immediately drawn to the fun and exciting game of hockey. Nolan played junior hockey for the Cornwall Royals of the OHL and was selected first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.

He was later traded to the San Jose Sharks shortly after the Nordiques relocated to Denver, Colorado. He would go on to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames, and Minnesota Wild before retiring in 2012.

There are many other countries that have produced NHL players. To see the full list and interactive map, click here.