As an American-born hockey fan I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the American-born stars of the National Hockey League. I grew up idolizing the likes of Chris Chelios, Mike Modano, Brian Leetch and many others.
I’ll never forget that February afternoon two years ago in Vancouver during the Gold Medal Game of the 2010 Winter Olympics. I’ll never forget the tremendous excitement I felt when Zach Parise scored with 24.4 seconds left in regulation to tie Team Canada at two, and I’ll never forget the extreme heartbreak—that still stings today—that overtook my body when Sidney Crosby snuck one past Ryan Miller, killing my hopes of seeing my home country take home a Gold medal in the sport that I love so much.
As we move closer towards learning which two teams will battle it out for the chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup, we do know one thing for sure; an American-born Captain will be in the Stanley Cup Finals with a chance to capture the Stanley Cup, something that has happened only once in NHL history and hasn’t happened since the Michigan-born Derian Hatcher led his Dallas Stars to a 4-2 series victory over the Buffalo Sabres to capture the Stanley Cup in 1999.
Three of the remaining four teams left in this year’s playoffs are captained by American-born players. Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers,—Rochester, New York—Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils—Minneapolis, Minnesota—and Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings—Ithaca, New York are those three, the Canadian native Shane Doan and his Phoenix Coyotes are the only thing standing in the way of the NHL’s second ever American-born Stanley Cup winning Captain.
Hockey in America has been on the rise over the past several years, and having another American lead his team to a Stanley Cup victory can only help.
The NHL certainly has its share of talent from all over the world, but the league has seen some American stars really shine over the last few years.
Guys like Patrick Kane—Buffalo, New York— and Tim Thomas—Flint, Michigan— have been big time players on their respective teams that have captured Stanley Cup titles during the past two seasons, and by the way things have gone thus far in the playoffs, it looks like Jonathan Quick, another American—Milford, Connecticut—could make it three in a row.
For those of you that have difficulty with math there is a 75% chance that when Commissioner Gary Bettman hands the Stanley Cup over to the Captain of the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Champions, that guy will be American-born player. It’s pretty safe to say that we are a few weeks away from seeing the second ever American-born Captain to lead his team to a Stanley Cup Championship.