A few years after the NHL was founded in 1917, 44 (91.7%) of its players were Canadian. The rest of the league was made up of three Americans and one British player, George Carey of the Hamilton Tigers. Canada had a huge population at the time, so it's not surprising that most of the early stars were born there.
The first Canadian-born player in the NHL was Dickie Moore from Victoria, BC. He debuted with the Montreal Canadiens in 1924 at the age of 21. Two years later, he was the leading scorer for the Canadiens. In 1926-27, he led the league in scoring with 49 goals, helping the Habs win their third consecutive Stanley Cup title. After eight more seasons with Montreal, Dickie Moore then went on to play for the New York Rangers, Chicago Black Hawks, and Detroit Red Wings, where he ended his career in 1939-40. He played a total of 10 seasons in the NHL, winning two more cups with the Red Wings.
The next Canadian to join the NHL was Violet Thompson from Ottawa, ON. She was the only female player in the league when she joined in 1927. She stayed with the Pittsburgh Pirates for three seasons and then moved to the Detroit Falcons, where she played until 1930.
The National Hockey League was the name given to the new league. The Boston Bruins were the first club from the United States to enter the league in 1924. The NHL now consists of 30 clubs from Canada and the United States. From the initial regulations set in the 1870s, modern ice hockey has evolved little. In fact, some would say it is less physical than it was then.
The early games were very rough with many injuries occurring. The rules were not changed for many years so players adapted by taking out their aggressions on the ice rather than each other. This is why you do not see checking used in today's game; it was not done back then.
During the 1920s, the Montreal Canadiens dominated the league with a great lineup that included Joe Hall, Doug Harvey, Arnold Johnson, Henri Richard, and Yvon Durelle. In the final season before the Great Depression hit, the Canadiens lost in the final game of the season to the New York Rangers by a score of 3-2. During that time, they also had two more first-place finishes.
In 1933, most of the major sports leagues in North America went into decline due to the economic crisis. Only three teams -- the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Black Hawks, and Detroit Red Wings -- managed to post winning records. The rest of the teams were unable to pay their players or rent the facilities where the games were being played.
419 (43.8 percent) of all NHL players are Canadian for the 2018-19 season. Two hundred and eleven (22.0 percent) are from Canada/Northern America while 98 (10.3 percent) are from the United States.
The most famous Canadian hockey player is probably Wayne Gretzky, who was born in Brantford, Ontario. The most famous American hockey player is obviously Wayne Gretzky too! Both men have their records broken by another Canadian - Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There are also several other notable Canadians who have played in the NHL including Vincent Damphousse, Denis Potvin, Ron Francis, Bob Gainey, Dave Andreychuk, and Chris Pronger.
In addition to those six players, seven more have scored at least 100 points in a NHL season. Three of these players (Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Jaromir Jagr) are tied for first place on the all-time scoring list with 894 points each. The other four players are Bobby Orr, Guy Lafleur, Peter Stastny, and Joe Thornton.