Though Canadian teams struggled to survive in the economics of sports in the 1990s and there are only six teams from Canada currently playing in the NHL, the National Hockey League remains the top league in Canada as it has since its formation in 1917. Canadian cities are also represented in the major minor professional leagues of North America. While many more players from the United States and Europe are now playing professional hockey in North America, Canada still provides more players than any other country.
More Canadian prospects are beginning to play at American universities, but the top junior hockey players in Canada mainly continue to play in the three major junior leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League?the Ontario Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. All three leagues are primarily Canadian-based, though both the OHL and the WHL have American franchises. More European and American players are also entering the ranks of Canadian junior hockey, though the overwhelming number of players are still from Canada.
Below the top junior leagues, Canadian players can compete at several different levels in many different age groups. Canada?s recent disappointments at the international level are causing Canadian Hockey to take a serious look at its youth programs, but it remains true that more young people are playing hockey in Canada than in any of the other major hockey nations.