European coaches in the NHL

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, there were only a handful of European-born or Russian-born players in the NHL, a few Americans, and a ton of Canadians. You had your Borje Salmings and your Peter Stastnys and your Jari Kurris but it wasn’t until the late 80’s and early 90’s (after the breakup of the USSR) that you really started seeing a lot of Russians and Czechs and Slovakians and such in the NHL. So over the last twenty years, there have been hundreds of European-born players in the NHL, and many of them have had long playing careers. Some have even made the Hockey Hall of Fame.

So where are all the European coaches?

Former players moving on to coaching is commonplace: of the thirty current NHL head coaches, twenty of them played in the NHL at one point. (In case you’re curious, the ten that have not are Paul Maurice, Ken Hitchcock, Peter DeBoer, Todd Richards, Jacques Martin, Barry Trotz, John Tortorella, Cory Clouston, Todd McLellan, and Andy Murray.) But not one of the thirty current NHL head coaches was born outside of Canada or the US.

Are Europeans simply not interested in coaching at the NHL level? Are they being discriminated against somehow? I don’t have any insight or opinions as to why this is happening, but I think it’s an interesting question.


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