Show­ing their skill

A look at Euro­peans who have made their mark on the NHL

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY BILL BEA­CON

It’s hard to imagine the Na­tional Hockey League with­out its Euro­pean stars, but un­til the late 1970s, there were few play­ers from out­side North Amer­ica in the world’s top league.

The 1972 Sum­mit Se­ries be­tween Canada and the Soviet Union opened many eyes to how far Euro­pean hockey had come and the emer­gence of the World Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion in the 1970s gave many a plat­form to show their skills. Now there are Euro­peans on ev­ery NHL club.

In the lat­est edi­tion of NHL 100, a weekly se­ries from The Cana­dian Press, we look at Euro­peans who have made their mark.

BORJE SALMING

The highly skilled de­fence­man be­came the first Euro­pean to be­come an im­pact player in the NHL when he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1973. The Swede went on to play 1,148 games over 17 sea­sons and was named to the Hockey

Hall of Fame in 1996.

AN­DERS HEDBERG AND ULF NILS­SON

Any doubt that Euro­peans could shine in North Amer­ica was dis­pelled by the Swedish duo that joined the WHA’s Win­nipeg Jets in 1974, skat­ing on a line with su­per­star Bobby Hull. Both signed in 1978 with the Rangers.

ULF STERNER

The Swedish left-winger be­came the first Euro­pean born and trained player to skate in the NHL when he joined the New York Rangers in 1964-65. He played only four games.

VACLAV NEDOMANSKY

The Cze­choslo­vak cen­tre was 30 when he be­came the first player to de­fect from a Soviet Bloc coun­try to play for the WHA’s Toronto Toros. He jumped to the Detroit Red Wings in 1977 and played seven NHL sea­sons.

THE STASTNY BROTH­ERS

Peter and An­ton de­fected from Cze­choslo­vakia to the Que­bec Nordiques in 1980 and the old­est brother Mar­ian joined them a year later. Peter Stastny was the sec­ond-high­est scorer of the 1980s be­hind Wayne Gret­zky.

VIACHESLAV FETISOV

The star de­fence­man bad­gered Soviet au­thor­i­ties for years for per­mis­sion to play in the NHL. They re­lented in 1989, when Fetisov and seven other older play­ers in­clud­ing Igor Lar­i­onov and Sergei Makarov were al­lowed to make the jump.

MATS SUNDIN

The Nordiques made the rangy cen­tre the first Euro­pean to be cho­sen first over­all in the NHL draft in 1989. He played 19 sea­sons for Que­bec, Toronto and Van­cou­ver and en­tered the Hall of Fame in 2012.

TEEMU SE­LANNE

Among records likely never to be bro­ken - the Finnish winger’s 76 goals as a rookie in 1992-93 with Win­nipeg.

PAVEL BURE

The Rus­sian Rocket de­buted with the Van­cou­ver Canucks in 1991 and went on to post to 60-goal sea­sons and three other 50-plus goal cam­paigns.

JAROMIR JAGR

Still go­ing at 45, the Czech winger won Stan­ley Cups in his first two sea­sons in Pitts­burgh in 1991 and 1992. The five-time league scor­ing leader is sec­ond in all-time NHL points (1,914) and fourth in all-time games played (1,711).

JARMO KEKALAINEN

In Fe­bru­ary, 2013, the Finn who got into only 55 NHL games as a player be­came the league’s first Euro­pean gen­eral man­ager with the Colum­bus Blue Jack­ets.

CP PHOTO

Van­cou­ver Canucks Pavel Bure scor­ing the win­ning goal against Mike Ver­non in the sec­ond over­time pe­riod against the Cal­gary Flames on April 30, 1994.

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