Although only 18 states have NHL teams, hockey is considered a way of life by people in many areas, including the parts of Canada that host some of the NHL’s 30 teams. Fans in some states can rely only on minor leagues or televised games to get their hockey fix. Of the 18 states who support major teams, these are the ones whose passion and commitment are the most fierce.
Massachusetts has long been associated with hockey. The Bruins are one of the NHL’s longest playing teams, and both Boston College and Boston University have long supported the sport, churning out many professional hockey players. In 2009/2010, 66.9 people for every 10,000 residents played hockey. Also, Boston was one of the original six cities that had NHL teams.
4 New York
New York State boasts three NHL teams: two in the New York City area and one upstate. These teams include the Rangers, the Sabres, and the Islanders. The history of the teams and New York’s hockey history overall goes way back. New York City was one of the first cities in the United States and Canada to get a NHL team. Many famous hockey players are from New York, including some who play at home and several who play in other states.
Alaska not only has an ideal climate for hockey, but it’s also home to the most hockey players per the amount residents of any state in the U.S., according to the 2011 article in The New York Times. For every 10,000 people living in Alaska, 123.5 of them are hockey players.
Michigan has several bragging rights when it comes to hockey. Detroit was also one of the first six cities to have a NHL team, and several NHL all-stars are from there, including Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller. The Red Wings still call Detroit home, and both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan are highly supportive of the sport. In 2009-2010, 51,404 Michigan residents played hockey. Of every 10,000 people in the state, around 51 are hockey players.
Although not one of the country’s first states to get a NHL team, Minnesota is a favorite of hockey fans. The New York Times ranked Minnesota as the second of the top hockey states on February 20, 2011. Minnesota turns out an amazing number of hockey players, including 53,450 in the 2009-2010 season, including high school and college players. Considering the more than 5 million residents of the state, that means that around 102 people per 10,000 are hockey players.