Euro Players in the NHL

So the fine Canucks Blogger over at Waiting for Stanley mentioned today that he is, and I quote
"I can be a cultural 'racist', meaning I am quick to judge the heart of European players on occasion".

Now this is not a new bias in hockey and it seems to permeate through a lot of Canadian and American hockey people, (starting with Don Cherry).

One thought behind this perceived lack of heart, may be that European Players don't care as much about winning the Stanley Cup as much as North American players. While this seems like a terrible thing to say, let me state my point first.

I was reading an interview with a Finnish (I think Finnish, maybe a different Euro player) the other day and he said something along the lines of (i.e. paraphrase): «Growing up I didn't dream of winning the Stanley Cup, I barely thought about it. It was my dream to be able to represent my country in the Olympics and international competition and win a Gold Medal. It wasn't until I got over here that I realized how important the Stanley Cup was.»

I think it's pretty safe to say that other europeans, especially those growing up behind the Iron Curtain, would have similar experiences.

I also think it's pretty easy to recognize that even the biggest Euro loafer out there will play his heart out for his country while maybe playing hard, but not quite as intense, for the Stanley Cup (*cough *cough Alexi Yashin). While this isn't true of all Euro players, many played hard for both the cup and country (Forsberg, Alfredsson, Lidstrom, Federov, and the list goes on. etc).

Just like there are plenty of Canadian players who may not get nearly as excited for the Olympics as they are for the Stanley Cup finals. It's just kind of human nature, there's the pinnacle of your career and, let's face it, life and there's everything else. Well maybe for Europeans, the Stanley Cup is "Everything else"?


  1. I wonder how many of them have to spend a few years here before they really feel the desire for the Cup.

    The future generations in Europe should suffer less from this perhaps, since there are so many Europeans playing here now. Who knows.

    The celebrations for the Cup are massive in Czechoslovakia though. I love those guys.

  2. I think that the apathy is already decreasing from Euros as the game goes more global. I think young Euro players already know what the Cup means, and the soft and desire is more of a leftover from the first generation of euro players.

    As players like Jari Kurri et all took the Cup back to their home countries those young players came to idolize it more.

  3. "I think young Euro players already know what the Cup means, and the soft and desire is more of a leftover from the first generation of euro players."

    Yeah, I think and hope that really is the case!

    I know it also depends on the country. My wife says that the Russian players get a rough ride from their coaches in the Mother Land. So when they come to North America they bask in their riches for a while, and have that 'don't fuck with me' attitude because of their rough upbringing.

  4. I've heard that as well. If anyone from Europe is slow to adapt to the league, it's still the Russians, but historically and culturally that makes sense anyway. They're the least "European" of all the Europeans in the NHL.

  5. That's a good point about the Russians, and Russian players do have the most failure to adjust stories of all the players I see.

    I think it probably is that old communism mentality. Even if they aren't communists anymore, that mindset of "being told, and forced, to do everything your entire life" still sets in. When you get freedom from that I think any humans natural reaction is to rebel and relax. It's pretty natural.