Origin of players

In addition to Canadian and American born and trained players, who have historically composed a large majority of NHL rosters, the NHL also draws players from an expanding pool of other nations where organized and professional hockey is played. A steady stream of European players began entering the league in the 1970s, continuing into the 1980s. Most of the first wave of Europeans came from Sweden and Finland, with a small number of defectors from the Soviet Bloc. Since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, political/ideological restrictions on the movement of hockey players from this region have disappeared, leading to a large influx of players mostly from Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia into the NHL. Swedes, Finns, and other Western Europeans, who were always free to move to North America, came to the league in greater numbers than before. Many of the league's top players today come from these European countries, including: Ilya Kovalchuk, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Hossa, Nicklas Lidstrom, Marian Gaborik, Teemu Selanne, Zdeno Chara, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexander Ovechkin.[95] European players were drafted and signed by NHL teams in an effort to bring in more "skilled offensive players",[96] although recently there has been a decline in European players as more American players enter t e league.[97] The addition of European players changed the style of play in the NHL and European style hockey has been integrated in to the NHL game.[95] Conversely Canadian coaches and the Canadian style of play have been embraced by many European countries. Because of the continued success of Canadian teams in world tournaments many other countries are trying to model their development programs after Hockey Canada's.[98] In the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic years, the league voluntarily suspended its all star game and expanded the traditional all star break to allow NHL players an opportunity to represent their respective countries. The 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, an NHL city. Currently, as of late 2010 there is no agreement in place between the NHL and the IOC regarding the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Russia.[99] The NHL has players from 18 different countries, with the majority (52.0 percent during the 200708 NHL season) coming from Canada.[100] The following table shows the origins of every player (skaters and goaltenders) who played an NHL regular season game in the given year. The table follows the Hockey Hall of Fame convention of classifying players by the currently existing countries in which their birthplaces are located, without regard to their citizenship or where they were trained.