Toronto Maple Leafs Are Turning Into Team America

Martin AverySenior Writer IApril 15, 2009

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 25:   Lee Stempniak #12 of the Toronto Maple Leafs warms up before his first game as a Maple Leaf to face the Atlanta Thrashers during their NHL game at the Air Canada Centre November 25, 2008 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

With a General Manager, Head Coach, and several players, plus new prospects, all from the USA, the Toronto Maple Leafs are turning into the most American team in the NHL.

Leafs' GM Brian Burke recently picked Toronto's coach, Ron Wilson, to be Head Coach of Team USA for the World Hockey Championship this year and the Olympic Games next year. Burke is GM for Team USA.

Jason Blake was selected to the United States roster for the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship.

Lee Stempniak of the Leafs was picked by Burke for Team USA's initial roster, for the tournament starting April 24th in Switzerland.

Other Americans on the Leafs this year included Jason Blake, Jeffrey Hamilton, Jeff Finger, Erik Reitz, and Christian Hanson. Half a dozen players on a roster of 24 means the Leafs' roster is one quarter American.

The Leafs recently signed Hanson, son of one of the Hansons of Slapshot fame, from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the University of Notre Dame. The team competes in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association at the NCAA Division I level.

More recently, the Leafs signed Viktor Stalberg from the University of Vermont to a two-year Entry Level Contract.

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Stalberg was playing for the University of Vermont Catamounts in the NCAA and was one of the top 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. He was born in Sweden.

The New York Rangers, by comparison, have four Americans in their lineup, plus an American coach.

Approximately sixteen percent of all hockey players in the NHL are American.

Toronto is the biggest city in Canada. It boasts an NBA team, an American League team in the MLB, and is hosting Buffalo Bills games with hopes of landing an NFL team.