Detroit has Hockeytown written at center ice at the Joe. Boston, and their fans, would dispute that claim. And for kicks, Saugus built a rink and called itself Hockeytown. Cities can debate all they want, but what about states? With the 2015 NHL All-Star game coming up this weekend, lets look at where American All- have come from.
It turns out, since all-star teams stopped facing the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, and started pitting East vs. West in 1969, there have been 76 different Americans who have participated in the exhibition. And overwhelmingly, they are pulled from just three states.
The dispute from the 1980 Miracle on Ice team can finally be put to rest, 'cause after a large sample size, Minnesota can claim itself the King of American hockey. Twenty-five percent of the American pool of NHL All-Stars hails from Minnesota, a state that was robbed of an NHL team for seven years in the 90's. And if they keep on the trend they're at, could be running away with the lead in the near future, since 8 of their 19 all-stars are currently active in the NHL. That's more than some states have in their existence.
The Canadian border yet again is no stranger to great hockey players, and Michigan ranks as the 2nd-best producer of American hockey talent. With 15 participants, the home of the Red Wings has given the National Hockey League more all-star talent than Connecticut, New Jersey, Alaska, Washington, Virginia, Vermont, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri... combined. Though unlike it's northern neighbor, the Wolverine State has run dry in recent years when it comes to elite talent.
Sitting pretty in third is the Bruins' home state, Massachusetts. The salty Boston fans will always claim this as the best region in hockey, with a healthy original six franchise and the best hockey at the collegiate level in the nation. Just look at how many players from the 2009 NCAA Champion BU Terriers are playing in the NHL. Now Boston is home to the projected No. 2 overall pick in next years entry draft in Jack Eichel, and the Bay State has a case. But with only 12 all-stars in the NHL, and no one since 2011 (Keith Yandle), Boston will have to put itself on Eichel's shoulders if it wants to reclaim its status one of the premier American hockey hubs for the first time since Jeremy Roenick.
New York has 9 NHL All-Stars in its history, but while the number total ranks them 4th on the list, per capita it is a lot less impressive. Still, three of those players were called to dress in Columbus this weekend (Howard will be sitting out due to injury), so their recent history has produced some great talent. Illinois and Wisconsin (PHIL!) come in at a tie for 5th place, although per capita, Wisconsin has a higher population to NHL All-Star ratio at 1::1.43M than New York (1::2.19M).
The bottom rounds out at some locales that are both sensible, and surprising. Connecticut, New Jersey and Alaska all have two representatives, with the former two having recent success in Jonathan Quick, Kevin Shattenkirk, Bobby Ryan and "Johnny Hockey" Johnny Gaudreau. Including New York, the Tri-State area will have 6 reps in this year's All-Star game, showing the hockey hotbed that is the Northeast US is expanding.
Seven states have had a lone representative appear in an NHL All-Star game, comprised of cold-weather states with Washington, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and some outliers in Texas, Virginia, and Missouri. The only one of these states that'll be cheering in this year's festivities will be Washington, for Spokane's 24-year-old Tyler Johnson who has been on fire this season as a point-per-game player.
Overall, the best players have come from historic hockey markets. Still, we have Tampa, formerly Atlanta, Arizona, and (presumably) Vegas, all with hockey franchises. Hey Bettman, maybe take a flyer and give Seattle, Wisconsin, or even the Whalers a shot. Go towards where the sport is growing, not where it's clinging for life.