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12-07-2010, 09:38 AM
Stray Wasp
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Originally Posted by maxpowers View Post
I think comparatively it will be much harder for players to dominate the league than say 50 years ago, simply due to the number of players currently playing the game (as was previously mentioned). A larger player pool means more star players.

Right now according to wikipedia there are about 1.5 million registered hockey players in the world and 500 k in Canada. The population of Canada has roughly doubled since 1950. If we assume that the number of players playing hockey in Canada increased linearly with population growth, then there were about 250,000 hockey players in 1950. Assuming at this time that the vast majority of hockey players came from Canada, then the total number of players has increased by 600% since 1950.

So if for example you expect that there will be a star player every 100,000 players, in 1950 that would be ~2-3 while in 2010 it would be ~15. While you may have been one of the top players in the league back then, now you may not be in the top 10. If you could hypothetically bring them forward in time to the current era, even with modern training/preparation, they would still be great, but now there would be more players closer/equal to their ability.

Now the all time greats wouldn't really be affected by the increased competition. A generational player like Gretzky will only come around maybe every 10 million players and would dominate the current crop.

If you removed all the non-Canadians (Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk, etc.) in the NHL and randomly 50% of the Canadian players (Stamkos/Thornton) a player like Crosby could dominate much easier as now 75% of his competition would be gone. For this reasons a player who may have dominated 60 years ago, will have a much harder time doing so now.
With reference to the bolded part, below is a link to an article from early 1991 that remarks upon youth hockey registration in Canada falling during the eighties.

Presumably the Canadian population grew during that time, so we can't assume a linear link between population growth and hockey players. I don't know how many sources are available on the number of registered hockey players down the years to shed more light on this matter.

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