The growth of hockey in the U.S. is impressive
According to 2012 Lester Patrick Trophy recipients Bob Chase-Wallenstein and Dick Patrick the growth and expansion of hockey is alive and well in the United States.
“Hockey has grown tremendously the past 30 years, and when Mike Mondano, the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame inductee was coming up through the system, the best players in the United States were from Minnesota and Detroit, but now they’re coming from everywhere , including Washington, California and Dallas”, said Partick.
In 1990-91, USA Hockey’s national membership stood at 1,95,125 players. In just 10 years, that number rose up to 4,39,140 in 2000-01. In 2013,USA Hockey boasted 5,10,279 members, the second most all-time and just under 1,000 less than the record 5,11,178 which was set in 2011-12.
Modano recalls the first time how the Americans were viewed overseas saying that when they went to play the World Junior Championship in 1987 held at Moscow, the perception the audience had about them made them want to change the perception. They felt as if the Europeans didn’t see them up to their level and because of that they wanted to strongly prove that they could play against anyone.
More than anything the growth can be traced back to the hard and tireless work by the volunteers at the grass line level.
The Wayne Gretzky Award winner Murray Costello believes that the American players have been extremely mind- blowing and impressive over the years.
“I keep telling Bob Nicholson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hockey Canada, the more that those American blue chip players begin to pick our game over football and baseball, we’re going to be in big trouble, and his answer is always the same, ‘It’s no big trouble. It’s just going to cause us to dig deeper and do it better as the standard of the game goes up’,And that’s a good thing,” Costello said.
When Costello was questioned about the growth of hockey in this country by NHL.com, USA Hockey assistant executive director of hockey operations, Jim Johannson, came up with the ultimate response.
“Murray is a guy that was in the trenches for so long in the growth and development of the game as a whole,” Johannson told NHL.com. Johannson also shared that Murray is the only one who provided a real strong mentorship.
In the late 1970s, Costello helped Hockey Canada and USA Hockey collaborate on coaching education projects. The criteria for the U.S.-Canada junior transfer agreement also dates back to Costello’s cooperation with USA Hockey executives.
Providing programs for kids of all ages and skill levels is opening doors like never before and setting a record among itself. USA Hockey also came up with several strong initiatives that have helped facilitate growth as well.
Johannson also said “His patience in handling the continued growth and reach of the sport worldwide, while always understanding the business of hockey was incredible and we are forever grateful for that.”
With the successive international success at every level of hockey, from 2010’s Olympic silvers to World Junior, World Women’s and World U18 gold medals, many more American NHL players than ever before and record numbers in participation across the country, making it the Golden Age of hockey in the United States of America.