European players have become the norm in the NHL since Borje Salming became the first superstar in the 1970s, proving that “Euros” could succeed in the NHL. Salming did play one season with Detroit, scoring 19 points in 49 games in 1989-90.
A prime example of Detroit’s European influence would be this year’s roster that is sending 10 players to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, eight of which are from European countries. The exceptions are Jimmy Howard with Team USA and Pavel Datsyuk with Team Russia.
For Europeans to be among the best in a North American league, they have to endure a lot of changes. The size of the playing surface, a more physical style of play and the culture of a new country are some examples of what players have to adjust to outside of the game.
Learning a new language, handling North American media and settling in with new teammates add a tremendous amount of pressure for players to undertake.
Making up this list are players who have found a way to do all of the aforementioned while playing an extraordinary level of hockey, they've left an impression off the ice and some have even redefined the game. Here are the five best European players in Detroit Red Wings history.