Hockey still Canada’s Game -- Top Three Reasons

It’s mine, but you can have some. 

That’s something you’re more likely to hear on a children’s playground than you are in an adult conversation but you might be surprised. When it comes to the heritage of certain items, such as the origin of a sport, grown adults get very testy as to who has possession.

Ice hockey and the NHL have enjoyed excellent growth over the last seven years and since its low point at the 2004-05 lockout, the sport has soared to new heights in 2011-12. 

While Canadians have always loved the game, more and more Americans continue to flock over to it and they’re liking what they see. Even as the sport grows south of the border and potentially in Europe, let’s not forget about the origins of the game: Canada is clearly the home of hockey.

On that note, here are three major reasons why Hockey is a Canadian game:

1. Hockey started in Canada

Any time you’re looking to find the ownership of something, one easy way to determine it is trace it back to its roots. 

The first time ice hockey ever played was in the 19th century in Canada. The first official organized ice hockey game was played all the way back on March 3, 1875 in Montreal, Canada. Since then, it has become the official national winter sport of Canada. In other words, the game started in the Great White North. 

There will always be debates as to where it’s popular and if it’s growing in certain regions, but the bottom line is that it was born in Canada and that can never be taken away.

2. Most of the players come from Canada (including the best ones)

Not only was the game made in Canada, it continues to be made by Canadian-born NHL players. A whopping 53.7% of Canadians made up NHL rosters in the 2011-12 season and that includes a predominant amount of Canadians also working as coaches, in the press boxes and in the front office.

And Canada isn’t just leading the quantity category; they’re providing plenty of quality as well. Five of the top eight scorers in the 2011-12 NHL regular season (Steven Stampkos, Claude Giroux, Jason Spezza, James Neal and John Tavares) were all Canadian-born.

Canada is a hockey powerhouse. It’s what Penn State is for NFL linebackers, North Carolina is for pro basketball players and Brazil is for soccer players: they produce not only the most but the best. That’s yet another reason why hockey is a Canadian game. 

3. Canadians care more about Hockey

If there was any doubt about hockey being more important to Canadians than it is to Americans, then just look at the numbers. Canadians invest more money into the game, the media spends more time covering the games and Canadian fans attend more contests.

Only one Canadian team ranked in the bottom 10 for NHL attendance in the 2011-12 and that was Winnipeg but that was because of a smaller stadium. Going by attendance percentage, only one Canadian team ranked in the bottom 15 for attendance percentage (Calgary) and they stilled sold 96.7% of their seats this season. Teams like Phoenix (83.2%) and Dallas (84.4%) only wish they could get in that territory.

There’s talking the talk and there’s walking the walk and whilst Canadian based teams such as the Canucks and the Senators maybe struggling in this season's Stanley Cup, Canadians take more action when it comes to supporting the game, which is another reason why it is a Canadian game.

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