Skip to main content

2016 World Cup: International hockey notes

by NHL Public Relations /

* Of the 974 players who appeared in at least one game during the 2014-15 NHL regular season, 243 (25%) were born outside North America.

* Of those 974 players, 74 were born in Sweden; 59 were born in countries eligible for selection by Team Europe; 37 were born in the Czech Republic; 37 were born in Russia; and 34 were born in Finland – or have represented those countries in international competition.

* Of those 974 players, 85 were born in Canada or the United States and meet the age requirement for selection by Team North America.

* The first World Cup of Hockey was played in 1996, featuring an expanded international field with games on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In an all-North American final, Team USA rallied to defeat Team Canada, 2-1, in a best-of-three series.

* The World Cup of Hockey returned in 2004, with Team Canada defeating Team Finland, 3-2, in a one-game final in Toronto.

* Prior to the World Cup of Hockey, the NHLPA, NHL and Hockey Canada gave NHL players the chance to represent their native countries for the first time with the creation of the Canada Cup in 1976. In the inaugural tournament, Team Canada swept Team Czechoslovakia in the best-of-three final series.

* The Canada Cup also was staged in 1981, 1984, 1987 and 1991, with Team Canada winning three of those tournaments (1984, 1987 and 1991). Team Soviet Union was the lone other victor, defeating Team Canada in the one-game final in Montreal in 1981.

* Overall, Team Canada has reached the final in all seven iterations of the World Cup of Hockey and Canada Cup. Team Soviet Union (1981 CC, 1987 CC) and Team USA (1991 CC, 1996 WC) are the only other nations to reach multiple finals in those tournaments.

* The first overseas tour by NHL players took place in 1938, when the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens played a series of postseason exhibition games in Europe.

* In 1965, Swede Ulf Sterner became the first European-trained player to appear in an NHL game when he suited up for the New York Rangers on Jan. 27 (vs. BOS).

* Finn Tommi Salmelainen became the first European-trained player selected in the NHL Draft when the St. Louis Blues picked him 66th overall in 1969.

* Swedes Anders Kallur and Stefan Persson became the first European-trained players to win the Stanley Cup when the New York Islanders hoisted the trophy in 1980.

* Also in 1980, New York Islanders defenseman Ken Morrow became the first player to win an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup in the same year. Morrow played for Team USA at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, helping the squad defeat Team Soviet Union in the 'Miracle on Ice.'

* Most recently, Los Angeles Kings teammates Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty won the Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup in the same year, doing so in 2014. Both Carter and Doughty skated for Team Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, where the club defeated Team Sweden in the gold-medal game.

* The only other players to win both an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup in the same year: Detroit Red Wings and Team Canada teammates Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman in 2002 and Chicago Blackhawks and Team Canada teammates Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews in 2010.

* In January 1988, the International Olympic Committee first allowed limited participation by professional hockey players in the Olympic Winter Games. Seven NHL players joined Team Canada for the 1988 tournament in Calgary: Brian Bradley, Randy Gregg, Andy Moog, Jim Peplinski, Steve Tambellini, Tim Watters and Gary Yaremchuk.

* In 1994, the NHL and IIHF reached an agreement to allow NHL players to participate in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. That year, the NHL took an unprecedented 17-day break to allow 121 players to represent their countries in Japan, where goaltender Dominik Hasek led Team Czech Republic to its first Olympic gold medal.

* Swede Mats Sundin became the first European player selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Draft when the Quebec Nordiques took him in 1989.

* Also in 1989, the percentage of European players in the NHL topped 10% for the first time in League history (12% in 1989-90 season). That number climbed above 20% for the first time in 1995 (21% in 1995-96 season).

* Czech Jaromir Jagr became the first European player to lead the NHL in scoring when he posted 32-38—70 (in 48 GP) for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1994-95. Jagr then became the first European player to win the Hart Memorial Trophy when he did so in 1998-99.

* In 2007-08, Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings became the first European-born captain to hoist the Stanley Cup, while teammate Henrik Zetterberg became the first European-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

* Most recently, NHL players competed in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, where Team Canada – led by the goaltending of Carey Price (5-0, 0.59 GAA, .972 SV%, 2 SO) – captured its second consecutive gold medal with a 3-0 victory over Team Sweden.

Underscoring the competitive nature of international hockey:

* Canada is the defending champion of the IIHF World Junior Championship, IIHF World Championship, Olympic Winter Games and World Cup of Hockey. 

* The Czech Republic has won the IIHF World Championship six times in the past 20 years (1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2010), more than any other nation in that span.

* Finland has won a medal at six of the past eight Olympic Winter Games, more than any other nation over that span. The Finns earned silver in 1988 and 2006 and bronze in 1994, 1998, 2010 and 2014.

* Russia has won a medal at 10 of the past 11 IIHF World Junior Championships, the most of any nation in that time.

* Sweden has collected 14 medals (4 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze) in the past 10 years at the Olympic Winter Games, IIHF World Championship and IIHF World Junior Championship.

* The United States has dominated the IIHF World Under-18 Championship in recent years, winning eight gold medals, two silver and one bronze in the past 11 years.

View More