Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Foreign Leaders

In a development that is sure to disappoint some (not me, I'm OK with it), Colin Stephenson writing for the Star-Ledger points out that more and more of the captains of NHL teams are coming from the ever growing ranks of European players.

If Don Cherry were dead, he'd be rolling over in his grave.

Cherry, the colorful television commentator for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, has entertained viewers for years by selling himself as hockey's version of Archie Bunker.

The former Boston Bruins coach installed himself as the champion of the good old Anglo-Canadian NHL player, extolling the virtues of clean-cut boys from Ontario and Alberta and Saskatchewan and attacking those imports from across the Atlantic.

What must Cherry be thinking these days, with fighting and physical play way down in the new-rules NHL, and the league so heavily populated by European players that no one bats an eye at the fact that 11 of the 30 teams are captained by a European?

Cherry passed on a request to answer that question, but others in the NHL aren't that surprised by the influx.

"The NHL's come a long way," Brendan Shanahan, the Toronto-born left wing and Rangers assistant captain said a few weeks ago when asked about the proliferation of Euro captains. "In past years, there was definitely a stereotype and a prejudice against Europeans, and probably for some people, there always will be.

"But most knowledgeable hockey people realize that it doesn't matter now where you're born or where you grew up playing; desire is desire and leadership is leadership."

There is a greater percentage of Europeans among the ranks of captains (36.7 percent) than there are Europeans in the league (29.8 as of Feb. 7).

(my emphasis)
Somewhere Don Cherry is fuming.

Which probably means, so is Clark Robertson.

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