Ryan Kesler talks American vs. Canadian hockey
Former Vancouver Canuck calls U.S. hockey grittier in Player's Tribune
Anaheim Ducks centre Ryan Kesler drew an interesting comparison to American and Canadian hockey in the latest article for the Player's Tribune.
The gritty 31-year-old wrote about his experience growing up and playing hockey in Michigan with what he called a blue-collar upbringing which emphasized a strong work ethic that eventually led him to the NHL.
He touched on the aggressive method of play that often draws the ire of fans around the League, but credits that to the American style of playing.
"When I think about growing up playing hockey in Michigan, I think about battles," wrote Kesler of a line brawl he was involved in as a child.
"When you think about Canadian kids, you probably imagine the perfect frozen ponds and shinny and warm cocoa and all that. It's like a painting, right? But for us, the reality was a lot grittier."
I'm not saying we were less skilled. In fact, I think Americans often have unbelievable hands because of roller hockey."
The former Vancouver Canuck drew on some Canadian stereotypes to make a point about the difference between the neighbouring countries when it comes to hockey.
He also referenced how many Canadians fell in love with the game by watching icons like Wayne Gretzky on Hockey Night in Canada, while he learned about hockey through the video game NHL '94.
Kesler's piece is essentially an ode to hard work and how it's ingrained in American culture.
Players from the United States currently make up 24.2 per cent of the NHL, which is the second most behind Canada (49.7), but not many of Kesler's American counterparts have drawn the same conclusion.
Certainly the U.S. is gaining on Canada, as Auston Mathews is expected to be the first American drafted in the top of this year's upcoming NHL entry draft since Patrick Kane was No. 1 in 2007.
The comparison is perhaps natural given the Olympic rivalries over the past few years. Kesler spoke to the media about the battle between the two hockey heavyweights prior to the gold medal game in 2010.
"I said it was a rivalry and that we hate each other. I never said I hate Canadians or Team Canada…But yeah, we don't like each other."