Do you need a team of Canadians to win the Stanley Cup?
I was listening to the Team 1200 radio station here in Ottawa this morning and they were discussing the often claimed idea that it takes Canadians to win the Stanley Cup and that maybe some of Ottawa’s problems are not having enough Canadian’s on its team. That got me to wondering if that is really true. So, the number cruncher in me set out to find hard evidence one way or the other. In doing so I took a look at the past 5 Stanley Cup champions which were all different teams. What I did was to add up all the games that Canadian, European and American players (skaters only, not goalies) played during their successful playoff run. The table below shows the percentage of games played by each Stanley Cup winner based on their players nationality.
According to this website in 2003 Canadians accounted for 53.6% of all NHL players while Europeans accounted for 33.3% and Americans 13%. If we use those numbers as reality then we find that over the past 5 years Canadians were a slightly larger than average contributor to Stanley Cup champions while Europeans were slightly lower than average and Americans were about what one would expect. But, the the Stanley Cup champions numbers aren’t that far off the league wide average numbers and on 3 occassions teams won the Cup with just an average number of Canadians on their team. That said, there was only one time (Detroit) in which a team with a greater percentage of Europeans on their team won the Cup so maybe there is something to it.
One might wonder if the new rules will give a bit more advantage to the Europeans. Well, it seems that isn’t the case as runner up Edmonton had 69.9% of their playoff games played by Canadians, 23.1% by Europeans and 6.9% by Americans. Western Conference Anaheim also had a high percentage of Canadians with 71.2% of their playoff games played by Canadian born players and just 23.3% by Europeans and 5.6% by Americans. The other semi-finalist had a very different team makeup. The Buffalo Sabres were 38.4% Canadian, 37.5% European and 24.1% American. Quite an interesting team makeup indeed.
So where do the Ottawa Senators fit in? Well, 48.9% of their playoff games were played by Canadians, 35.6% by Europeans and 15.6% by Americans and they lost to Buffalo.