When you think of NHL goalies, you might envision the intense, focused gaze behind the mask, peering through a sea of players and pucks. It’s an image that’s synonymous with the sport. And their skills and reflexes are on another level, I mean, seriously impressive!
But have you ever wondered about the color of those eyes hidden behind the mask? Is there any truth to the notion that most NHL goalies have blue eyes? It’s time to uncover the mystery of blue eyes.
The Influence of Northern European Heritage
Before we dive into the fascinating world of NHL goalies and their eye colors, let’s establish some key factors that may influence this phenomenon.
1.1 A lot of northern European people from areas with cold, snowy winters are good hockey players
Ice hockey is a sport that’s really ingrained in the culture of countries with cold, snowy winters. Think Canada, Sweden, Finland, and Russia – they’ve got a serious hockey tradition going on!
The long, frigid winters create the perfect conditions for the sport to thrive. It’s no surprise that many talented hockey players, including goalies, come from these regions.
1.2 A lot of elite goaltenders in the NHL come from Nordic regions which have a higher-than-normal percentage of blue-eyed people
Nordic regions, which include countries in Northern Europe like Sweden, Finland, and Norway, indeed have a higher-than-average percentage of blue-eyed individuals.
Blue eyes are more common in these areas due to genetic factors and the region’s historical population makeup.
With these factors in mind, let’s explore the fascinating world of NHL goalies and their eye colors.
The Myth of the Blue-Eyed Goalie
It’s often said that goalies with blue eyes are more common in the NHL. But is there any truth to this claim? To answer this question, we need to look at the statistics.
Including every goalie tandem in season (2020-2021), 66.12% of goalies have blue eyes. 64.5% of starters have blue eyes, and 67.7% of backup goalies have blue eyes. Funny enough, if we look at the NHL’s top 10 goalies for the 20-21 seasons, it’s 50/50. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the stats for the latest season. (Source: Twitter)
These statistics may come as a surprise to some. While there is a noticeable majority of blue-eyed goalies in the NHL, it’s not as overwhelming as the myth suggests. The top 10 goalies for the 2020-2021 season had an equal distribution of eye colors.
Blue-Eyed NHL Goalies: Examples
Now that we’ve established that blue-eyed goalies are prevalent in the NHL let’s look at some examples of well-known NHL goalies with striking blue eyes.
|1. Henrik Lundqvist
|Henrik Lundqvist, often referred to as “King Henrik,” is a legendary NHL goalie who spent most of his career with the New York Rangers. He hails from Sweden, a country known for its high percentage of blue-eyed individuals. Lundqvist’s intense blue eyes are as iconic as his goaltending skills.
|2. Carey Price
|Carey Price, a star goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, is another prime example. Price is of Ulkatcho First Nation descent and was born in British Columbia, Canada. Despite his Indigenous heritage, he possesses striking blue eyes, emphasizing the diversity of eye color among NHL goalies.
|3. Tuukka Rask
|Tuukka Rask, the Finnish goaltender for the Boston Bruins, is known for his exceptional skills between the pipes. He also has blue eyes, adding to the intriguing mix of eye colors in the NHL.
The Genetics Behind Eye Color
Now that we’ve seen some examples of blue-eyed NHL goalies, it’s worth delving into the genetics behind eye color. Eye color is a hereditary trait influenced by multiple genes.
The most important of these genes are OCA2 and HERC2, which are responsible for the production of melanin, the pigment that gives color to our eyes, skin, and hair.
Blue eyes occur due to low melanin levels in the front layer of the iris. The absence of melanin in the iris causes light to scatter, resulting in the reflection of shorter wavelengths (blue and green) and giving the appearance of blue eyes.
Interestingly, blue eyes are a recessive trait, which means both parents must carry the recessive gene for a child to have blue eyes.
However, this genetic explanation doesn’t fully account for the prevalence of blue-eyed NHL goalies, as genetics alone can’t explain the statistical distribution we observe.
Beyond Genetics: Other Factors at Play
While genetics play a significant role in determining eye color, other factors are at play regarding NHL goalies and their blue eyes.
NHL teams are known to scout talent from regions with strong hockey traditions. As mentioned earlier, Nordic regions have a higher-than-average percentage of blue-eyed individuals. When scouts look for promising young goaltenders, they might unknowingly be biased towards players from these regions, contributing to the prevalence of blue-eyed goalies.
Hockey has been a predominantly white sport historically. The sport’s demographics have evolved, but this historical trend may still influence the distribution of eye colors among NHL players, including goalies.
The total number of NHL goalies is relatively small compared to the general population. This means that small variations in eye color percentages can be amplified in the NHL. Statistical anomalies can occur, making it seem like blue-eyed goalies are more common than they are.
The Diversity of NHL Goalies
It’s essential to recognize that the NHL goalie position is incredibly diverse in terms of eye color and cultural backgrounds, playing styles, and personalities. While some goalies may have blue eyes, others have brown, green, or even hazel eyes. The beauty of the NHL lies in its diversity, which extends to the goalies who guard the net.
In conclusion, the idea that most NHL goalies have blue eyes is rooted in some truth, but it’s not as clear-cut as the myth suggests. While there is a notable percentage of blue-eyed goalies in the NHL, factors like genetics, selective recruitment, historical trends, and sample size contribute to this phenomenon.
It’s also important to celebrate the diversity of NHL goalies, both in terms of eye color and cultural backgrounds.
The next time you watch an NHL game and see a goalie’s intense gaze from behind the mask, you might wonder about the color of their eyes.