List of countries with their first National Hockey League player

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The globalization of National Hockey League has been occurring since its inception. The early years saw a largely Canadian league, with some Americans playing. As the league progressed it experienced an influx of European players, at first from Western European countries, such as Sweden. After the fall of Communism, players from Eastern European countries, such as the former Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union, joined the league. The NHL eventually saw fewer European players, but more players from Canada and the United States. Today the NHL has players from five continents. The following is a list of countries and the first person born there that played in the National Hockey League. These players are not necessarily the first citizen of each respective country to play in the NHL, as nationality is determined under a nation's nationality law and may differ. Additionally, some countries have had citizens play in the NHL, but have never had a native-born player reach the league. One current example of this is Australia; while the country saw its first citizen reach the league in 2017, said player (Nathan Walker) had been born in the United Kingdom.

Most statistical sources in the sport follow the convention of the Hockey Hall of Fame in classifying players by the currently existing countries in which their birthplaces are located.

Current countries[edit]

Country of birth Name Debut Year
Austria Reinhard Divis[1] 2001–02[2]
The Bahamas Andre Deveaux[3] 2008–09[4]
Belarus Alexander Andrievsky[note 1] 1992–93[5]
Belgium Jan Benda[6] 1997–98[7]
Bulgaria Alexandar Georgiev 2017–18[8]
Brazil Mike Greenlay 1989–90[9]
Brunei Craig Adams[note 2] 2000–01[10]
Canada Multiple: most participants of the first NHL game were Canadian born 1917–18[11]
Croatia Goran Bezina[note 3] 2003–04[12]
Czech Republic Jaroslav Jirik[note 4][13] 1969–70[14]
Denmark Poul Popiel 1965–66[15]
Estonia Leo Komarov[16][note 5] 2012–13[17]
Finland Albert Pudas[18][note 6] 1926–27[19]
France Andre Peloffy 1974–75[20]
Germany Walt Tkaczuk[21][note 7] 1967–68[22]
Haiti Claude Vilgrain[23] 1987–88[24]
Indonesia Richie Regehr 2005–06[25]
Italy Nelson DeBenedet 1973–74[26]
Jamaica Graeme Townshend[27] 1989–90[28]
Japan Taro Tsujimoto[29] 1974–75[30]
Kazakhstan Konstantin Shafranov[note 8] 1996–97[31]
Latvia Charlie Cotch[note 9] 1924–25[32]
Lebanon Ed Hatoum[33] 1968–69[34]
Lithuania Darius Kasparaitis[note 10] 1992–93[35]
Netherlands Ed Kea 1973–74[36]
Nigeria Rumun Ndur[37] 1996–97[38]
Norway Bill Johansen 1949–50[39]
Paraguay Willi Plett 1975–76[40]
Poland Joe Jerwa[note 11] 1930–31[41]
Republic of China (Taiwan) Rod Langway[42] 1978–79[43]
Russia Sweeney Schriner[note 12][44] 1934–35[45]
Serbia Stan Smrke[46][note 13] 1956–57[47]
Slovakia Stan Mikita[note 14] 1958–59[48]
Slovenia Anze Kopitar[49][note 15] 2006–07[50]
South Africa Olaf Kolzig 1989–90[51]
South Korea Jim Paek[52] 1990–91[53]
Sweden Gus Forslund[54] 1932–33[55]
Switzerland Mark Hardy 1979–80[56]
Tanzania Chris Nielsen 2000–01[57]
United Kingdom Joe Hall[58] 1917–18[59]
United States George Geran 1917–18[60]
Ukraine Vic Hoffinger[note 16] 1927–28[61]
Venezuela Rick Chartraw[62] 1974–75[63]

Former countries[edit]

Country Name Debut Year
Czechoslovakia Anton Stastny
Peter Stastny
1980–81[64][65]
East Germany Udo Kiessling[66] 1981–82[67]
Newfoundland[note 17] Alex Faulkner 1961–62[68]
Russian Empire[note 18] Charlie Cotch 1924–25[69]
Slovak Republic (1939–1945)[note 19] Stan Mikita[70] 1958–59[48]
Soviet Union Victor Nechayev[71] 1982–83[72]
West Germany Willie Huber 1978–79[73]
Yugoslavia, Kingdom of[note 20] Stan Smrke[74] 1956–57[47]
Yugoslavia, Socialist Federal Republic of[note 21] Ivan Boldirev[75] 1970–71[76]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Andrievsky was technically born in the Byelorussian SSR of the former USSR, which became the country of Belarus in 1991.
  2. ^ Adams was technically born in Brunei prior to its independence from the UK, while it was still a protectorate
  3. ^ Bezina was technically born in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in the territory now known as Croatia.
  4. ^ Jirik was technically born in the former area of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia which was part of Nazi Germany. It occupied most of the territory now known as the Czech Republic.
  5. ^ Komarov was technically born in the Estonian SSR of the former USSR, which became the country of Estonia in 1991.
  6. ^ Pudas was technically born in the former area of the Grand Duchy of Finland which was part of the Russian Empire. It occupied the territory now known as Finland.
  7. ^ Tkaczuk was born in the Bizone, the combination of the American and British occupation zones of Germany following the defeat of the Nazi regime in World War II.
  8. ^ Shafranov was technically born in the Kazakh SSR of the former USSR, which became the country of Kazakhstan in 1991.
  9. ^ Cotch was technically born in the Russian Empire, in territory now known as Latvia.
  10. ^ Kasparaitis was technically born in the Lithuanian SSR of the former USSR, which became the country of Lithuania in 1990.
  11. ^ Jerwa was technically born in the former country of the Russian Empire, in territory that is now known as Poland.
  12. ^ Schriner was technically born in the former country of the Russian Empire, in territory that is now Russia.
  13. ^ Smrke was technically born in the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia, in territory that is now known as Serbia.
  14. ^ Mikita was technically born in the Slovak Republic (1939-1945), a puppet state of Nazi Germany which occupied most of the territory now known as Slovakia.
  15. ^ Kopitar was technically born in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in territory that is now Slovenia.
  16. ^ Hoffinger was technically born in the Russian Empire, in territory now known as the Ukraine
  17. ^ Not to be confused with the modern day Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
  18. ^ Not to be confused with modern day Russia.
  19. ^ Not to be confused with modern day Slovakia.
  20. ^ Not to be confused with either the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  21. ^ Not to be confused with either the Kingdom of Yugoslavia or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The 2011 Invitees: Part One in a Two-Part Epic
  2. ^ Reinhard Divis
  3. ^ Andre Deveaux
  4. ^ Andre Deveaux
  5. ^ Alexander Andrijevski
  6. ^ SIHR – Global Hockey Facts: Belgium Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Jan Benda
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Mike Greenlay
  10. ^ Craig Adams
  11. ^ Rosters of First NHL game
  12. ^ Goran Bezina
  13. ^ First Czech NHL player dies in plane crash
  14. ^ Jaroslav Jirik
  15. ^ Poul Popiel
  16. ^ Johnston on Leafs: Holzer making most of chance
  17. ^ Leo Komarov
  18. ^ Albert Pudas
  19. ^ Albert Pudas
  20. ^ Andre Peloffy
  21. ^ LA Kings News Clips 12–23–10
  22. ^ Walt Tkaczuk
  23. ^ Earthquake hits home for Vilgrain
  24. ^ Claude Vilgrain
  25. ^ Richie Regehr
  26. ^ Nelson DeBenedet
  27. ^ Harris, Cecil (2005). Breaking the Ice: The Black Experience in Professional Hockey. Toronto: Insomniac Press. p. 153. ISBN 1894663802. 
  28. ^ Graeme Townshend
  29. ^ Yutaka Fukufuji
  30. ^ Yutaka Fukufuji
  31. ^ Konstantin Shafranov
  32. ^ Charlie Cotch
  33. ^ Ed Hatoum
  34. ^ Ed Hatoum
  35. ^ Darius Kasparaitis
  36. ^ Ed Kea
  37. ^ Rumun Ndur
  38. ^ Rumun Ndur
  39. ^ Bill Johansen
  40. ^ Willi Plett
  41. ^ Joe Jerwa
  42. ^ Rod Langway
  43. ^ Rod Langway
  44. ^ Podnieks, Andrew (2003). Players: The ultimate A–Z guide of everyone who has ever played in the NHL. Toronto: Doubleday Canada. p. 770. ISBN 0-385-25999-9. 
  45. ^ Sweeney Schriner
  46. ^ Stan Smrke
  47. ^ a b Stan Smrke
  48. ^ a b Stan Mikita
  49. ^ Malkin not lock as NHL's no. 1 rookie
  50. ^ Anze Kopitar
  51. ^ Olaf Kolzig
  52. ^ Can I Play, Too?; Korean Athletes In U.S. Sports; Jim Paek, the First Korean to Hoist the Stanley Cup Archived 2012-03-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  53. ^ Jim Paek
  54. ^ Swedish Ice Hockey Year By Year Archived 2012-03-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  55. ^ Gus Forslund
  56. ^ Mark Hardy
  57. ^ Chris Nielsen
  58. ^ Joe Hall
  59. ^ Joe Hall
  60. ^ George Geran
  61. ^ Vic Hoffinger
  62. ^ Rick Chartraw
  63. ^ Rick Chartraw
  64. ^ Anton Stastny
  65. ^ Peter Stastny
  66. ^ Udo Kiessling
  67. ^ Udo Kiessling
  68. ^ Alex Faulkner
  69. ^ Charlie Cotch
  70. ^ NHL Great Stan Mikita Has Oral Cancer[permanent dead link]
  71. ^ Victor Nechayev
  72. ^ Victor Nechayev
  73. ^ Willie Huber
  74. ^ Stan Smrke
  75. ^ Ivan Boldirev
  76. ^ Ivan Boldirev

See also[edit]

List of NHL statistical leaders by country