Hockey is king in Canada. The winter infested country loves it’s puck. Not only do over 600,000 Canadians play hockey in registered Hockey Canada leagues, but the country’s recent success on the international professional stage has invigorated the population to love the game itself. Canada has won Olympic Gold in men’s hockey 2002, 2010, and recently in 2014; the women’s hockey team has 13 Olympic Gold medals in it’s history, which makes it the most successful country in women’s hockey history. Canada has five gold medals in the World Championships since 2002 (and 11 overall in that time span), and has seven gold medals at the World Junior Championships since 2002, on top of six silvers and one bronze in that time span. It’s no secret that Canada has been dominant on the international stage in the last decade plus.
Until 2015, Canadians made up more than 50% of NHL players as well, and in 1956, that number was at it’s peak, coming in at 98.6%. While the rest of the world’s love for hockey is growing, Canada’s has always been there. Some of the NHL’s best players are Canadian (think names like Crosby, Stamkos, Price, etc.) and when the NHL recently released it’s Top 100 Greatest Players of all time, many of those players were Canadian. When USA Today recently released their Top 25 NHL Players of All Time, the top 12 players were Canadian, and only four players were of any other nationality; yes, even ranked by an American magazine.
To many Canadians, hockey offers an escape from their every day. They may have to wake up before 5am to get to practice, and they may even have to drive to the next town over to get to their game, but it’s always worth it. Even though there are an abundance of rinks available (3,300 indoor, and over 5,000 outdoor, the most in any country in the world), ice time is at a premium, since over 1 million people in Canada say they “play” hockey, and that’s only if they are above the age of 15. That number is growing year-to-year as well, since the annual growth rate sits at 1.5%.
Regardless of who wins medals, and who has the most rinks, hockey will always be Canada’s game. It has always been ingrained in the life of Canadians, and many say they have ice in their veins. The best part? Canada is very happy to share the game of hockey. They have always been on the forefront of teaching other countries how to develop programs, leagues, and players. If you want to play hockey, ask a Canadian.