|NHL.com: Impact Magazine|
|Montreal's Richard Zednik has not only brought glory to the hallowed Canadiens, but he has also made a name for his hometown of Banstra Bystrica, Slovakia.|
As the current issue of NHL.com's Impact! Magazine has highlighted, today's NHL is truly a world game.
The best players, hailing from the world's smallest towns and biggest cities, have come together to treat the game's fans to the greatest conglomeration of talent the sport has ever seen. Yet, some areas seem to have a greater hand in providing players than others. The reasons for this are many -- superior teaching, the availability of ice surfaces and the population's enthusiasm and embrace of the game among them.
In this edition of The Impact! Top 10, we look at some of the greatest hockey-producing towns in today's NHL. The list, compiled from birthplace information provided by NHL offices, is intended to show fans some of the places where the NHL pipeline flows most freely. It is presented in alphabetical order as each of the below locales, as well as many others, can lay claim to being a true hockey factory.
|Los Angeles' defenseman Jaroslav Modry is among five players that call the small city of Ceske Budejovice, in the Czech Republic, home.|
Banstra Bystrica, Slovakia -- This small city has produced five of the current Slovakians plying their trade in the NHL. For the most part, the players from Bystrica are as high-profile as they come, as well.
Center Michal Handzus is playing a huge role for Eastern Conference powerhouse Philadelphia. Nashville's Vladimir Orszagh is one of the primary offensive threats for the surprising Predators and Montreal's Richard Zednik has won over the demanding Montreal fans with his ability to produce clutch goals. Youngsters Tomas Surovy of Pittsburgh and Florida's Ivan Majesky also call the Bystrica area home.
Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic -- Located in South Bohemia at the confluence of the Vltava and Malse rivers, Ceske Budejovice is home to five current NHLers, the same as the much bigger capital city of Prague. All told, the Czech Republic contributes more than 60 players to current NHL rosters. The Florida Panthers' duo of Vaclav Nedorost and Filip Novak are among the quintet of players from Ceske Budejovice, which is home of the original Budweiser beer. The other natives playing in the NHL today are Los Angeles defenseman Jaroslav Modry, Anaheim center Vaclav Prospal and Pittsburgh defenseman Josef Melichar.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada -- Of the 65 Alberta-born players to start the season in the NHL, almost half are listed as being from the "City of Champions." This is hardly surprising, considering the passion Edmontonians profess for the sport.
Additionally, the glory years of the Edmonton Oilers during the Wayne Gretzky-Mark Messier era obviously encouraged many talented local youth to don skates and emulate those high-flying Oilers.
|The legendary Mark Messier, who began his illustrious career with the Oilers, is a native Edmontonian. His exploits with the Oilers -- including five Stanley Cup championships -- helped make Edmonton the "City of Champions."|
Among the stars to claim Edmonton as their birthplace are Messier and Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames. Additionally, four current Oilers -- Jason Chimera, Scott Ferguson, Brad Isbister and Fernando Pisani -- play for their hometown team.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States -- Nearly a quarter of Minnesota's 17 NHL players hail from Minneapolis. That becomes even more amazing when one considers that Minnesota is tied for first place with Massachusetts when it comes to producing NHL-caliber players.
The talent coming out of Minneapolis is, for the most part, very young. David Tanabe of Phoenix is considered among the best young defensemen in the game. New Jersey's Paul Martin and Tom Preissing of San Jose are high-profile rookie defensemen. They are joined by veteran Devils center Erik Rasmussen.
|Many consider Patrick Roy, who played for Montreal and Colorado during his historic career, to be the best goalie to play in the NHL. He is one of several all-star goalies to hail from the hockey-mad province of Quebec.|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada -- Considered by many to be the cradle of hockey, the city of Montreal has produced 29 current players, leading the way among the 71 players produced by the province of Quebec. The Montreal Canadiens rule supreme in this hockey-mad city and it is of little surprise that city has produced an amazing crop of goaltenders to follow in the footsteps of the recently retired Patrick Roy, who began his career with the Canadiens before moving on to Colorado.
New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, Columbus' Marc Denis, Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Florida's Roberto Luongo, and Chicago's Jocelyn Thibault all hail from the city.
Moscow, Russia -- Moscow is not only the charter city in Russia, it is the biggest hockey producer in Europe. Of the more than 40 players claiming Russian heritage, 19 hail from this legendary city, which has produced some of the greatest Russian players in the history of the NHL. Both New Jersey's Sergei Brylin and Dallas' Sergei Zubov have claimed the Stanley Cup, hockey's ultimate prize. Others like Carolina's Danny Markov, Boston's Sergei Samsonov and Chicago's Alexei Zhamnov are considered among the best at their positions.
|The far northern Swedish city of Ornskoldsvik has the makings of its own NHL All-Star Team as it boasts two of the game's brightest stars in Vancouver sniper Markus Naslund and Colorado center Peter Forsberg.|
Ornskoldsvik, Sweden -- This northern Swedish city is almost forgotten, except when it comes to producing hockey players. The city is home to Colorado's Peter Forsberg, which is enough to merit its inclusion. But, the talent does not stop there. Another three natives of this city play huge rules for Western Conference powerhouse Vancouver. Markus Naslund, one of the game's true snipers, and the Sedin twins -- Henrik and Daniel -- also hail from here. Montreal right wing Niklas Sundstrom is the final evidence of the success of Ornskoldsvik's youth development system.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada -- The highest-profile city in Ontario is also the leading exporter of hockey talent in the province. Of the 145 players hailing from Ontario, 19 are listed from Toronto, just edging Ottawa's 15. When surrounding communities are taken into account, the numbers for each of those two major population centers rise dramatically. In Toronto's case, the popularity of the Maple Leafs as well as the strong grip the Ontario Hockey League has on the populace are main factors in Toronto's ability to not only locate, but refine raw athletic talent. Detroit, which lies approximately three hours to the southwest, has benefited greatly from Toronto's largess. Youngster Darryl Bootland, grinder Kris Draper, goaltender Manny Legace and veteran defenseman Jason Woolley all were born in Toronto.
|Many will argue that Montreal captain Saku Koivu is the most famous hockey export from the Finnish city of Turku.|
Turku, Finland - Located in the southwestern corner of Finland, Turku was the first capital of the country. It is also an excellent source for NHL players. Not only does the club team, TPS Turku, produce NHL players at a regular rate, but so too does the city's youth programs. Five of the more than 30 current Finns in the League call Turku home, one more than either Helsinki or Tampere can claim. Montreal captain Saku Koivu is arguably the most famous of those players, but Toronto defenseman Aki Berg, Atlanta goalie Jani Hurme, Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo also hail from Finland's oldest city.
Woonsocket, Rhode Island, United States -- There are only four Rhode Island-born players in the NHL today. Two were born in Providence, while the other two hail from nearby Woonsocket, less than 20 miles up the road. Additionally, all four played for Rhode Island high school powerhouse Mount St. Charles. Both Anaheim's Keith Carney and Boston's Jeff Jillson are from Providence, while Chicago's Bryan Berard, a No. 1 overall pick, and Brian Boucher of the Phoenix Coyotes are from Woonsocket.