Hockey History

.. McGill University of students W. F. Robertson and R.F. Smith.

Ice hockeys popularity at grew in Canada where it soon became the Sport of choice – a preference that had stuck to this day. NHL forward Brendan Shananhan summed up his country’s partiality for hockey in 1996 when he stated: “lacrosse is our national sport, the hockey is our beloved national sport.” (Gretzky page 9 34) By 1883 there were three teams in Montreal and one in Quebec City. Ice hockey first ever championship series was featured at the 1883 Montreal winter carnival with the McGill University team taking top honors. Tournament rules called for seven men to a side and two 30-minute periods with a 10-minute intermission. The annual carnival continues to feature the novel sport and served as a showcase for innovations as well as I testing ground for rule revisions.

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By 1886, stick width was limited to 3 in. and pucks achieved their standard specs: 1 inches thick by 3 in. in diameter and made of vulcanized rubber. Charles E. Courtney, a master at the St. Pauls School, later brought these new standards for the tools of the game to the states.

One of the first amateur leagues and Canada was the Ontario Hockey s of Association founded in Toronto in 1890. It was divided into three groups: junior, intermediate, and senior and. The OHA was responsible for producing some of the games greatest players in those early days. In 1892 Lord Stanley of Preston, the sixth to Governor General of Canada and an avid fan of the game, Sent his aide Captain Charles Colvill to England to purchase a trophy to be awarded annually to the amateur champions of Canada. For a mere 50 pounds, Covill bought what has become the oldest and most this prestigious trophy in North American sports.

Governor’s Stanleys initiative was symbolic of the level of popularity the game had already achieved throughout the dominion of Canada. The coveted trophy soon became known as – appropriately enough – The Stanley Cup the area to this day is considered the ultimate gold in professional hockey. It wasn’t only men who chose to partake of this thrilling ice game; the year 1890 also marked the time when the first organized and recorded all-female ice hockey game took place in Ottawa, Ontario. Later, women would compete regularly in “Baker’s leagues” which were organized in most of Canadas major cities. Ice hockey continued to spread across Canada during the early to mid- 1890’s, when it was just beginning to filter into the United States.

Scholars of the game have struggled to locate hockeys American roots and, which have become of prime subject for debate. The transition from ice polo to ice hockey has clouded hockeys beginnings below the 49th parallel, leaving Uncle Sam without a definite hockey birth certificate. In the summer of 1894, the group of Americana and Canadian tennis players competed in a tournament held at Niagara Falls, New York. While attending an off-court social occasion, some Americans and Canadians got around to comparing notes about winter sports. Both were surprise to find they were playing similar but different games on ice. Upon learning that the Americans were playing ice polo instead of ice hockey, the Canadians invented their North American counterparts to visit Canada the next winter to play exhibition games of both sports against their border buddies.

George Wright, founder of Wright & Ditson, a manufacturer and distributor of athletic equipment, organize a series of double headers featuring both sports to be played in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto. Each night the teams played two periods each of polo and hockey, the former being played with five men to a side, the latter with seven. The Maple Leafs swept all four of the hockey games with the Yanks winning two and tying two of the polo matches. Capacity crowds witnessed Americas discovery of the better ice game. Soon after, this great new sport spread like cancer.

Hockey was becoming more and more popular in Canada and northern U.S. by the years. The sports growth in popularity brought new ideas for the formation of a professional league, which would be later referred to as the NHL. The actual establishment of the NHL took a very short time, the whole thing boiled down to just one meeting on November 22, 1917 at Montreal Windsor Hotel. (the league is born).

This meeting consisted of NHA owners representing the Canadians, the Wanderers, the Quebec Bulldogs, and the Ottawa Senators. (The NHA was an amateur league established before the NHL, in which Lord Stanleys Cup was awarded to the champion of the league). These teams and team owners came up with a radical plan in mind: the creation of new league. They were tired of the NHAs problems. In time, it would become and the worlds premier professional hockey league, with its teams playing both Canada and the U.S.

Between the moment of its founding and our time, it would divide its history into three eras-a struggling infancy, the golden and, simultaneously, dark years of youth and the growth two todays adulthood. We turned now to the first of those eras. Even though launched with five teams, the NHL played its first season with just four. The reason: the Quebec Bulldogs had been losing money in the recent difficult years and the owners, deciding that enough was enough, elected to suspend operations for the time being. They then had to distribute their players among the other teams.

(Official Guide & Record Book page 136 137) The NHLs infant seasons land from 1917-18 to 1924-25. They were to be years marked by financial pains, instances of superb play, and the establishment of one as-yet to on broken record and moment of terrible sadness in the Stanley cup play. 1917-18 – after deciding to play a 22-game season, the NHL went into action for the first time on December 19, 1917, sending Montreal against Toronto, which was played on Toronto’s Home facility, the only artificial-ice rink in the circuit at the time, (Montreal took a 10-9 win). Unfortunately the game only attracted 700 fans, despite the fact that men in uniform were admitted with no charge. The meager crowd left no doubt that pro hockey, even under a new banner, was still suffering from the army scandal, most of the greatest players were off fighting at war. Again on the disaster side, the Westmount Arena burned to the ground in early 1918.

Montreal had not drawn good crowds during the season and with arena lost, the owners decided to call it quits. What has long been one of Canada’s finest amateurs than professional teams came to an end. 1918-19, The NHL continues to suffer bad times in the second season. Crowds remained sparse, even though the league tried to elict interest by adopting new rules to make the game faster and more interesting. During this season an very unusual thing had happened, for a first time ever the Stanley cup was not awarded, the reason why it was not awarded is because Canada was in the midst of a lethal flu epidemic in the which touched the a Stanley cup teams.

The flu sent many players to the hospital, tragically some of them died 6-8 weeks later. Therefore the competition was held off and a cup of was not awarded. Never again has the Stanley cup not been awarded after post season. (Hubbard & Fishler, page 55-68) Over the years the NHL suffered similar obstacles, financial problems, wars, and the lack of fans, to about the 1924-25 season. After that season times started to become easier.

More profit was being made by the owners, and more fans were attending the games. Hockey was becoming one of the most popular sports in all of Canada, which quickly spread to the U.S. Nowadays hockey is one of the most profitable and enjoyable sports throughout North America and Europe.