In a province of just over half-a-million people (comparable to the population of the city of Hamilton, Ont.) there’s no shortage of fertile NHL talent coming from the East Coast area of Canada, otherwise known as ‘The Rock’.
Four Newfoundland-born players are having successful runs with their respective NHL teams in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ryane Clowe of the San Jose Sharks, Teddy Purcell of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Michael Ryder of the Boston Bruins and Danny Cleary of the Detroit Red Wings are all natives of Newfoundland.
The group has been known to spend some time together in the off season working out and making several charity appearances back in their home province, but for now, they are all opponents in the fierce battle for Lord Stanley’s prize.
Clowe, a 28-year-old Fermeuse native, currently sits seventh in playoff scoring with 4 goals, 5 assists and a plus-4 rating.
Also serving as an assistant captain for the Sharks, Clowe has arguably been one of the team’s most consistent players all year long, while also emerging as one of the league’s most revered power forwards.
His leadership and tenacity is evident night after night and, be afraid when Clowe opts to drop the gloves and spark his team.
Clowe’s counterpart in the current Red Wings/Sharks series, Harbour Grace’s Danny Cleary, knows exactly what it takes to chip in and win a championship as the 32-year-old has eight bouts of post-season experience and a Stanley Cup ring with Detroit in 2008. He was the first Newfoundlander to win the Cup.
This year, Cleary has just 1 goal and 3 points in six playoff games, but he leads all his Newfie peers in career playoff totals with 19 goals, 39 points and a plus-25 rating in 97 games.
Tampa Bay forward Teddy Purcell, 25, of St. John’s, has also had a breakout season after being traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Lightning at the 2010 trade deadline.
Currently sitting 12th in playoff scoring with 7 assists and 8 points, Purcell has proven to be quite the bargain acquisition for Tampa, playing some of his best hockey in the post-season – when it matters most.
Purcell seems to find the openings and passing lanes, giving him the ability to make some key plays, but he also positions himself in the right spots on the ice to occasionally chip in with goals of his own.
Finally, Michael Ryder, the 31-year-old Bonavista native, has also shown his importance by scoring some big goals for the Bruins as they continue their success in the 2011 playoffs.
Ryder scored a big game-winning goal against his former team, the Montreal Canadians, in the first round, making this year’s playoff totals 2 goals, 4 points and a plus-4 rating.
His regular season play has struggled a bit since leaving Montreal, but his ability to step up in the playoffs has only improved.
In 21 post-season games with the Canadiens, Ryder recorded 3 goals and 8 points, and in 33 games with the Bruins, he has notched 11 goals and 22 points.
All four players have proven to play key roles for their respective teams and with all of them still alive in the playoff battle, Newfoundland could see another Cup ring come back to the homeland.
While their teams are not in the playoffs, Adam Pardy (Bonavista) and Luke Adam (St. John’s) have both had a chance to play on NHL ice.
Pardy, 27, played 30 games with the Calgary Flames this season notching 7 points, a plus-3 rating and 24 penalty minutes. He also played two seasons prior with the Flames and has a career total of 4 goals, 22 assists and 141 penalty minutes in 147 games.
At age 20, Luke Adam is just beginning what seems to be a promising NHL career as he played 19 games with the Buffalo Sabres this season, who drafted him in the second round in 2008.
The bulky, hard-hitting power forward (similar to Clowe) potted 3 goals, 1 assist and 12 penalty minutes with his NHL club, while also being named the American Hockey League’s rookie of the year with 29 goals, 62 points and 46 penalty minutes in 57 games with the Portland Pirates.
That marked the second time in four years a Newfoundlaner was named AHL rookie of the year, as Purcell won the award in the 2007-08 season.
For a list of more Newfoundland-born players that had a career in pro hockey, visit http://www.hockey-reference.com/friv/birthplaces.cgi?country=CA&province=NL&state=