The Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - 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 league.

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, we look at Euro­peans who have made their mark. ULF STERNER The Swedish 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. 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. 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 Detroit in 1977 and played seven NHL sea­sons. THE STASTNY BROTH­ERS Peter and An­ton de­fected from Cze­choslo­vakia to the Que­bec Nordiques in 1980 and 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 cho­sen first over­all in the draft in 1989. The Swede 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 Na­tional Hockey League 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.

HLI VIA GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO

Mats Sundin played for 19 sea­sons with Que­bec, Van­cou­ver and as cap­tain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Jaromir Jagr as a Pen­guin in 1999. He’s still go­ing at age 45.

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