Thursday, October 06, 2011

Where do NHLers come from - Toronto edition

Last night I caught a tweet by Toronto sports journalist Michael Grange (on twitter the eponymous @michaelgrange). He asked when was the last time the Leafs had a Toronto-born superstar on their roster.

To be honest, I thought it was a bit of a leading question and responded by asking when was the last time any NHL club had a Toronto-born star (then I wondered what the answer to that question is).

Hockey-reference (an amazing resource) has a database of NHL birthplaces. I pulled up the data for Ontario, dumped it into a spreadsheet and started to sort. I eliminated all the players who played before 1981 (thought 30 years was a nice round number for the data). That was the only exclusion I made.

I ended up with about 150 players in the last 30 years. Thanks to Grange and another twitter user @KeithTalent5000, I realized the data needed another go-round as the database separates out many of the constituent parts of Toronto – Willowdale, Mimico, Weston, North York, Scarborough, etc.

Factor in these constituent parts and the spreadsheet expands to 209 Toronto-born players in the NHL since 1981 (and I may have missed some others – I’m Toronto born and raised and I had to google Mimico to find out it’s part of the city).

Of those 209 Toronto-born NHLers:

  • 132 managed a career of 40 games or more;
  • 106 played more than 100 games; and
  • Seven managed to score 0.80 ppg and of those only three scored at a point-per game clip over their career (Dale Hawerchuk, Adam Oates and Paul Coffey).
In looking at the spreadsheet, I don’t think the pertinent question here is who was the last Toronto-born star on the Leafs. I think the real question is, why isn’t the most populous city in the country producing more NHL caliber players? (Or, how does Toronto compare, on a per-capita basis with the other major centres in Canada?)

As for stars on the Leafs, I don’t claim to speak for most Leaf fans, but I don’t care if they hale from Moscow, Ontario or Moscow, Russia. I’ll take talent on this squad no matter where it comes from.

The spreadsheet is here.


  1. My completely untested theory on why Toronto doesn't produce more NHL talent is that there are other things for kids growing up here to do here than play hockey, which isn't often the case in rural Canada, so some of the potential talent never goes through the system.

    I wish your last paragraph was a more common sentiment.

  2. a GTA analysis might paint a more dismal (perhaps depending where you're looking from) picture. For example, the likes of Stamkos being from Markham and the madness that would ensue if he were to play for the leafs

  3. I'm more supportive of and for Ontario-born and trained skill players etc., for the Leafs. It's a balancing act.
    This is a city who's University of Toronto football team went 2-78 (1998-2007) preceded a few years earlier by our other hapless loss-record setting York University squad. That's a problem for us.

  4. I'd like to see how this compares with Montreal or Vancouver, city proper. Seven out of 209 at a 0.80 ppg clip might not be too bad? I can think of a few reasonably good current Toronto NHLers who might not hit 0.80 but are notable, like Wayne Simmonds for one. It does seem thought like recently more come from the 905 than the 416...speaking of which, I believe Hawerchuk grew up playing minor hockey in the 'Shwa...


  5. Toronto is very good city in Canada.
    i have visited in 2003 when i was on my 2 months vocation.

  6. I've had this conversation before, and I agree with Ryan's comment -- the only reason I can think of that the GTA is disproportionately devoid of elite hockey talent is because there's more things to do.

    I think if the Staal's were from Mimico, those boys would have grown up doing lots of different things -- not just playing shinny in the backyard rink for thousands of hours on end.

  7. Anonymous9:46 pm

    If they do not trade or fire Phaneufe or what ever they call this asshole. Stands there in their own end does not constribes he is very over rated, is selfish and is totally not a defenseman get rid of this fucking asshole the leafs will maintain their statis as a losing fucking team. God is no one lisening! He costs us of winning what does that ego maniac Wilson thinking!!!!!!!!!!!!I am totallin fucking pissed 4-2 tonight and that asshole lets them get back into it shit I am pissed