Monday, January 21, 2008

Stanley Cup Thawing Out

For a time, the NHL expansion provided cannon fodder for the established original six hockey programs. However, times are changing. The most recent winners include: 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks; 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes; 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning. The Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars have also been winners in the past 10 years.

Is southern hockey excellence just a chance development? Perhaps it’s too soon to tell. Perhaps transplanting top hockey talent from the frozen north to the sunnier south gives these athletes a competitive advantage. Hockey players from the northern latitudes may spend more time indoors, and be more likely to have a Vitamin D deficiency than their southern counterparts. According to Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council:

If you are vitamin D deficient, the medical literature indicates that the right amount of vitamin D will make you faster, stronger, improve your balance and timing, etc. How much it will improve your athletic ability depends on how deficient you are to begin with. How good an athlete you will be depends on your innate ability, training, and dedication.

Figure 1 summarizes the average UV Index of the cities comprising the National Hockey League. As the NHL expanded primarily into the southeast and southwest, the average UV Index of the league also increased gradually. Figure 1 also shows the UV Index of the teams that won the Stanley Cup along with a 10-year moving average. Figure 1 shows that the 10-year moving average of the UV Index for the Stanley Cup winners has been increasing at a faster pace than the increase in UV Index for the league as a whole.

Figure 1. Stanley Cup Winner and NHL Average UV Index.

Athletes and other individuals should consider being tested for Vitamin D to determine whether or not they are below optimal levels. While those who live in the south have the benefit of sunshine, northerners can take advantage of diet and supplements.

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