Before this year’s Frozen Four in Tampa, sports infographic web site Sixteen Wins put out some telling data that detailed where D1 hockey players emanated from. The fact that the three M’s (Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Michigan) lead the charge is no doubt trite and of little surprise. College hockey is largely considered a niche sports that is provincial by nature and the 3 M’s have always been the premier hockey states in the US.
There were, however, a few glaring stats that caught me by surprise. If we take the top 3 states and the bottom few states out of the equation as is often done in regression models, we can get to the real substantive data. I was utterly shocked that Illinois outproduced it’s unfriendly neighbors to the north (Wisconsin) given the bevy of big time, home grown players who have played in the University of Wisconsin program.
I live in Chicago now and college hockey is virtually a non existent entity and high school hockey is largely relegated to the ritzy northern suburbs. My inclination is to believe that the proliferation of the AAA elite programs and the US NTDP have rendered high school hockey, outside of the 3 M’s, relatively meaningless. A young kid in Illinois now has every bit as good of a chance to play D1 hockey as a young skater lacing it up in the Minnesota High School State Tournament. In my humble opinion, it’s a shame that young 15 and 16 year olds are forced to jettison their home time roots at such a young age, but such is a sign of the times nowadays.
A few other things that stood out after quickly analyzing the infographic map below from Sixteen Wins:
- How few (less than 20) players originate from New Hampshire
- The fact that Alberta (103) produces virtually the same amount of D1 players as Massachusetts (105)
- The fact that California generates 51-55 D1 Players lends credence to the “Gretzky Effect” that many experts speak of
- I would think Europe would’ve become more of a breeding grounds by now but only 32 D1 players are European