The National Hockey League has always had an idiosyncratic bent. It’s called “National” — but exactly what nation? Most of the team jerseys say New York or Chicago or Los Angeles and the like, but the players, as most sports fans know, are largely native to Canada.
However, over the decades since Pierce George "Gerry" Geran of Holyoke, Massachusetts, became the first American-born player to lace up skates for the NHL Montreal Wanderers for the 1917-18 season, more than 1,300 U.S. players have skated in the league.
But which states have produced the most American players in NHL history? BetMichigan.com, as part of our Michigan sports betting coverage, especially wanted to know where Michigan ranked. Here are the results:
Most NHL Players By State
Michigan Prolific At Producing NHL Players
BetMichigan.com, which has the best Michigan sports betting promo codes, used HockeyReference.com to figure out which states have produced the most U.S. players to play in the NHL. Of the 1,381 players born in the United States to play at least a game in the NHL, BetMichigan.com determined the top 10 states that have sent native sons to the league.
Michigan can claim the third-most, 190 players, or just about 10% of all Americans to play in the NHL. The No. 1 state, not surprisingly, was Minnesota with 300 players, followed by Massachusetts with 217. The No. 4 state is New York, with 138 players who made it to the NHL. After that, the numbers drop into the double-digits: Illinois, 78; California, 51; Wisconsin, 40; Pennsylvania, 38; Ohio, 34, and Connecticut, 33.
Modano Best Michigan Product
Let’s break down the most decorated players to come from the Great Lakes State while we await the 2023-24 NHL season — and perhaps place a future bet on the Red Wings, who have odds between +7000 and +7500 with major Michigan sportsbook apps operators to win the Stanley Cup.
For barstool debate fodder, BetMichigan.com calls Mike Modano the best NHL player to come out of Michigan. Modano was born in Livonia and attended Franklin High School. He started skating at 7 years old and took to the ice from the start. Now in the Hockey Hall of Fame, the left-handed shooting center was an 11-time All-Star and won the Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999.
Through 16 seasons in Dallas, Modano became the face of the Texas franchise and scored 50 goals in the first season the team relocated there. During Modano’s first four seasons, the team was still in Minnesota as the North Stars.
In all, Modano, now 53, played in the NHL from the 1989-90 season through the 2010-11 campaign and finished his career with a season in Detroit. In his 21 seasons in the NHL, Modano scored 561 goals and added 813 assists for 1,374 points.
As for this year, Caesars Sportsbook Michigan lists the Carolina Hurricanes as Stanley Cup favorites with +750 odds, followed by the Colorado Avalanche (+800).
Other Hockey HOF Members From Michigan
The other member of the Hockey Hall of Fame to be inducted for his feats as a player was Mark Howe, son of Red Wings legend Gordie Howe. Mark Howe was born in Detroit while his father was building his own Hall of Fame career. In the 1973-74 season of the World Hockey Association, the younger Howe and his brother Marty were teammates with their dad on the Houston Aeros. All three wound up playing together for several seasons until Gorie finally retired after the trio played the 1979-80 season with the Hartford Whalers, back in the NHL. Mark went on to play 22 seasons in all at hockey’s highest level, 16 in the NHL and six in the WHA.
The other Michigan native in the Hall is Craig Patrick, who is in for his time as coach and general manager much more than his seven-year NHL playing career.
Other top NHL Americans by state (again barstool debate fodder): Minnesota, Phil Housley; Massachusetts, Jeremy Roenick; New York, Patrick Kane; Illinois, Chris Chelios; Pennsylvania, John Gibson, and Ohio, J.T. Miller.
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