Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Are the Maple Leafs becoming America's team?

Kessel was unstoppable at the 2005 uner-18s leading, leading the United States to a gold medal. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Every time the Brian Burke signs, drafts or trades for an American born player I see comments online from fans accusing Burke of turning the Leafs into an American dominated team. It happened as recently as yesterday when Burke picked up David Steckel from the Devils, You see Burke is an American and his head coach is American. So there must be a bias right?

So are these accusations accurate or is a little bit of anti-American sentiment from thin skinned Canadian fans?

Well I looked at the Leafs 50-man reserve list, almost all brought into the organization by Burke, to determine if the accusations have any merit. The breakdown is:

Canadian - 56%
American - 24%
Others - 20%

Last season the breakdown by nationality in the NHL was:

Canadian - 54.6%
American - 24.1%
Others - 21.3%

So despite the perception the Maple Leafs are truly go after the best players available and are largely blind to nationality. It makes sense. Brian Burke is too smart of a hockey guy to let personnel decisions to be distorted by nationality.

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