For more than a century, hockey historians have found that precisely tracing thesports origin is not only a difficult task but, a virtual impossibility. Therefore I can only try to deduce for myself, from the records, claims, andaccounts, which are available to me, when, where, and by whom the first icehockey was played. Ill also discuss the early problems and obstacles that theNHL encountered.
Plus I will also tell a little bit about early equipment, alongwith early game play and ice conditions that players encountered. Lastly, theStanley Cup, which is the most prized and oldest sports award of the NHL. It hasbeen won many times, by many different teams. Ice hockey is traceable to gamesplayed on fields as far back as nearly 2500 years ago.
In 478 BC, a Greeksoldier, Hemostocoles, built a wall in Athens which contained a sculpture sceneportraying two athletes in a faceoff-like stance holding sticks similar to thoselater used in field hockey. (Hubbard & Fischler, page17) Perhaps nativeAmericans were the first to play hockey like games. The Indians of Canadainvented the field game lacrosse, which is known by the legislative act asCanadas and national sport. The Alogonquins who inhabited the shores the St. Lawrence River played an ice game that was similar to lacrosse called “baggataway,”played without skates and with an unlimited number of participants. Frenchexplorers who visited the St.Order now
Lawrence River area and northern areas of UnitedStates in the 1700s witnessed these matches. (Hubbard & Fischler, page17)According to the dictionary of language of Micmacs Indians, published in 1888,the Micmacs of eastern Canada played an ice game called “oochamkunutk,”which was played with a bat or stick. Another ice game played by the Micmacs was”alchamadijik,” which was referred to in legends of the Micmacs,issued in 1894. (Hubbard & Fischler, page18-19) Early hockey-like games thatcame from across the Atlantic include the Field game Hurley from Ireland, fieldhockey from England, and the ice games English bandy and Kolven from Holland. Hurley is a ground game that is still popular in Ireland. It was originallyplayed by an unlimited number of players representing one parish againstanother.
A flat field hockey-like stick and a large ball were used. Irishimmigrants, who came to work on the Shubenacadie Canal near Dartmouth, NovaScotia, in 1831, brought Hurley to Canada. Some believe that oochamkunutk isHurley on ice. (Dolan page 21-26) Field hockey was played in 1870 in England, aswell as Egypt and India. Although the rules for field hockey play a major rolein the early evolution of ice hockey in Canada. But most students of the gamedoubt that field hockey was the forerunner of ice hockey, for the reason thatboth sports started around the same time.
Despite its overwhelming popularity asprimarily a woman’s sport in North America, field hockey didn’t arrive inAmerica until 1901, (when Miss Constance Applebee of England arrived at Harvardsummer school and organized a game with the group of students and teachers. (Dolan page 29-31) The English played a game called Bandy, which is ahockey-like game, who have been playing it as far back as the late 18th centuryand it is still played today in Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the UnitedStates (Minnesota). Many of the stars of the early Soviet hockey teams had beenBandy players. It is played on a large sheet of ice with short sticks, a balland large goals. The Dutch, long known for their ice skating ability, haveplayed the game Kolven since the 1600’s.
It is played with a golf-like stick, aball, and posts stuck in the ice for goals. Evidence of this game can be seen itin 17th century Dutch paintings. Emigrants from Holland who settled in New YorkCity played the game in their new locale. Another hockey-like game played onboth sides of the Atlantic was shinny.
It was played on the frozen pans of NorthAmerican and northern Europe (Scotland in particular). A block of wood or ofball served as a puck and a couple of a large rocks board chunks of wood wereused to mark-off the goals. For the faceoff players had to “shinny on theirown side,” which meant they had to take it right handed. Ever since theadvent of organized ice hockey, the name shinny has been used to describe onorganized will or sandlot (if you will) hockey.
There is an ongoing debate amonghockey historians as to whether or not some of the “first hockey everplayed” claims where actually ice hockey or instead, one of hockey-likegames like shinny. The committee appointed of the Canadian Amateur HockeyAssociation Concluded that the first hockey was played in Halifax, Nova Scotia,in 1855, by the royal Canadian rifles, an imperial army unit stationed atKingston. Some believe the game they were playing was probably shinny. AnEnglish historian once claimed that the royal family created the game in theearly 1850’s, on the lake behind Windsor Castle. But most likely the Britishroyalty was playing either shinny or a bandy-like game instead. Apart fromshinny, the precursor to ice hockey in the United States was ice polo, a purelyAmerican creation that was derived from the indoor sport of roller polo.
. (Hubbard & Fischler, page 22-37) Ice polo was played on outdoor ice by theearly to mid-1880s in New England, Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was most likely played at first at St. Paul’s school in Concord, NewHampshire, in the early 1880’s.
In 1883, a four-team ice polo league was formedin St. Paul, Minnesota. The formation of this league lead to the organization ofice polo tournament held annually in conjunction with the famous of St. Paulwinter carnival.
By the turn of the century, ice hockey had replaced ice polo inthe U. S. (Fischler page 47) The first organized indoor ice hockey gamesupposedly took place in Canada on March 30, 1875. Montreal’s Victoria SkatingRink was the site of the game, which was organized by James Creighton, an iceHurley player from Halifax. After a local exhibition of ice lacrosse drewlittle, if any public interest. Creighton of or post ice hockey to instead andordered sticks to be shipped from Halifax to Montreal for the event.
The gamewas played with nine-man sides on a surface that measured 80 ft by 204 ft. thecontest ended in at 2-1 in victory for Creightons teem and, believe it ornot – the game included a fight! “Shins and heads were battered, benchessmashed, and the lady spectators fled in confusion,” reported the wiredispatch Kingstons Daily British Whig from Montreal. A terrible seen indeed,but there is a silver lining: we may not know when outdoor ice hockey began butwe do know that fighting in hockey is at least as old as its first indoor game. What I can determine, despite my inability to pinpoint where and by whom thefirst outdoor game was played, is that ice hockey is primarily on Canadiancreation.
What I can also assume is that since humans have inhabited the Earth,they have invented, along with other recreational forms of entertainment andamusement, games, which have required, or better yet served, to fulfill man’sneed for exercise. Whether there have been meadows, fields, parks and of backyards, games have been played. The same is true for ice, whether it be frozenponds, lakes, rivers, or even puddles. In the years following that first indoorgame, Canadians began to shape and hone the new sports to their liking.
In 1876,the object being struck with sticks was referred to as the “puck” forthe first time, and 1877 saw the first publicized set of ice hockey rules, allseven of which were taken directly from field hockey. Further ideas and ruledecisions were adapted and made respectively by McGill University of students W. F. Robertson and R. F.
Smith. Ice hockeys popularity at grew in Canada whereit 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 in1996 when he stated: “lacrosse is our national sport, the hockey is ourbeloved national sport. ” (Gretzky page 9 34) By 1883 there were threeteams in Montreal and one in Quebec City.
Ice hockey first ever championshipseries was featured at the 1883 Montreal winter carnival with the McGillUniversity team taking top honors. Tournament rules called for seven men to aside and two 30-minute periods with a 10-minute intermission. The annualcarnival continues to feature the novel sport and served as a showcase forinnovations as well as I testing ground for rule revisions. By 1886, stick widthwas limited to 3 in. and pucks achieved their standard specs: 1 inches thick by3 in.
in diameter and made of vulcanized rubber. Charles E. Courtney, a masterat the St. Pauls School, later brought these new standards for the tools ofthe game to the states.
One of the first amateur leagues and Canada was theOntario Hockey s of Association founded in Toronto in 1890. It was divided intothree groups: junior, intermediate, and senior and. The OHA was responsible forproducing some of the games greatest players in those early days. In 1892Lord Stanley of Preston, the sixth to Governor General of Canada and an avid fanof the game, Sent his aide Captain Charles Colvill to England to purchase atrophy to be awarded annually to the amateur champions of Canada. For a mere 50pounds, Covill bought what has become the oldest and most this prestigioustrophy in North American sports.
Governor’s Stanleys initiative was symbolicof the level of popularity the game had already achieved throughout the dominionof Canada. The coveted trophy soon became known as – appropriately enough – TheStanley Cup the area to this day is considered the ultimate gold in professionalhockey. It wasn’t only men who chose to partake of this thrilling ice game; theyear 1890 also marked the time when the first organized and recorded all-femaleice hockey game took place in Ottawa, Ontario. Later, women would competeregularly in “Baker’s leagues” which were organized in most ofCanadas major cities.
Ice hockey continued to spread across Canada during theearly to mid- 1890’s, when it was just beginning to filter into the UnitedStates. Scholars of the game have struggled to locate hockeys American rootsand, which have become of prime subject for debate. The transition from ice poloto ice hockey has clouded hockeys beginnings below the 49th parallel, leavingUncle Sam without a definite hockey birth certificate. In the summer of 1894,the group of Americana and Canadian tennis players competed in a tournament heldat Niagara Falls, New York.
While attending an off-court social occasion, someAmericans and Canadians got around to comparing notes about winter sports. Bothwere surprise to find they were playing similar but different games on ice. Uponlearning that the Americans were playing ice polo instead of ice hockey, theCanadians invented their North American counterparts to visit Canada the nextwinter to play exhibition games of both sports against their border buddies. George Wright, founder of Wright & Ditson, a manufacturer and distributor ofathletic equipment, organize a series of double headers featuring both sports tobe played in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto. Each night the teams playedtwo periods each of polo and hockey, the former being played with five men to aside, the latter with seven. The Maple Leafs swept all four of the hockey gameswith the Yanks winning two and tying two of the polo matches.
Capacity crowdswitnessed Americas discovery of the better ice game. Soon after, this greatnew sport spread like cancer. Hockey was becoming more and more popular inCanada and northern U. S. by the years.
The sports growth in popularitybrought new ideas for the formation of a professional league, which would belater referred to as the NHL. The actual establishment of the NHL took a veryshort time, the whole thing boiled down to just one meeting on November 22, 1917at Montreal Windsor Hotel. (the league is born). This meeting consisted of NHAowners representing the Canadians, the Wanderers, the Quebec Bulldogs, and theOttawa Senators. (The NHA was an amateur league established before the NHL, inwhich Lord Stanleys Cup was awarded to the champion of the league).
Theseteams and team owners came up with a radical plan in mind: the creation of newleague. They were tired of the NHAs problems. In time, it would become andthe worlds premier professional hockey league, with its teams playing bothCanada and the U. S. Between the moment of its founding and our time, it woulddivide its history into three eras-a struggling infancy, the golden and,simultaneously, dark years of youth and the growth two todays adulthood. Weturned now to the first of those eras.
Even though launched with five teams, theNHL played its first season with just four. The reason: the Quebec Bulldogs hadbeen losing money in the recent difficult years and the owners, deciding thatenough was enough, elected to suspend operations for the time being. They thenhad to distribute their players among the other teams. (Official Guide &Record Book page 136 137) The NHLs infant seasons land from 1917-18 to1924-25.
They were to be years marked by financial pains, instances of superbplay, and the establishment of one as-yet to on broken record and moment ofterrible sadness in the Stanley cup play. 1917-18 – after deciding to play a22-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 Homefacility, the only artificial-ice rink in the circuit at the time, (Montrealtook a 10-9 win). Unfortunately the game only attracted 700 fans, despite thefact that men in uniform were admitted with no charge. The meager crowd left nodoubt that pro hockey, even under a new banner, was still suffering from thearmy scandal, most of the greatest players were off fighting at war. Again onthe 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, theowners decided to call it quits.
What has long been one of Canada’s finestamateurs than professional teams came to an end. 1918-19, The NHL continues tosuffer bad times in the second season. Crowds remained sparse, even though theleague tried to elict interest by adopting new rules to make the game faster andmore interesting. During this season an very unusual thing had happened, for afirst time ever the Stanley cup was not awarded, the reason why it was notawarded is because Canada was in the midst of a lethal flu epidemic in the whichtouched 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 heldoff and a cup of was not awarded. Never again has the Stanley cup not beenawarded after post season. (Hubbard & Fishler, page 55-68) Over the yearsthe NHL suffered similar obstacles, financial problems, wars, and the lack offans, to about the 1924-25 season. After that season times started to becomeeasier. More profit was being made by the owners, and more fans were attendingthe 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 profitableand enjoyable sports throughout North America and Europe.Sports and Games