Have you ever played or watched a professional hockey game? If you have you’re probably familiar with its basic rules and dynamics. With its speed and its frequent physical contact, ice hockey has become one of the most popular international sports.
The game is an Olympic sport, and worldwide there are more than a million registered players performing regularly in leagues. Whether you’re a fan or an outsider, here are some interesting facts about ice hockey that’ll surely surprise you!
The popularity of this sport is crystal-clear now, but its first appearance in history has been heavily debated.
Some say that the Irish and French played a version back in the 1700s, but others say that Canadians invented it in the mid-1800s.
Most people consider its rightful birthplace to be in Canada, where hockey is the country’s national sport.
The first hockey puck, used during outdoor pickup games in the 1800s, was reportedly made of frozen cow dung.
The first organized indoor hockey game was played March 3, 1875, at Montreal’s Victoria Skating Rink, between two teams of nine players each, many of whom were McGill University students.
The Stanley Cup is named after a former Canadian Governor-General, Lord Stanley of Preston, who donated the trophy in 1893.
The original Stanley Cup was only seven inches (17.78 centimetres) high.
The Stanley Cup has had many adventures since its creation in 1893. It has been recorded that Stanley Cup winners have used it for many different purposes: as a cereal bowl, forgotten by the side of the road, thrown into a swimming pool, and even lost.
Since 1914, the Stanley Cup has been awarded every year but two. In 1919 after members of the Montreal Canadians were stricken with sickness during the Spanish flu pandemic, and in 2005, after the cancelling of the season.
The Stanley Cup is far from perfect! It has been known for numerous engraving errors over the years, including Boston being spelt as “Bqstqn,” and the Toronto Maple Leafs as the “Leaes.”
Many referees have been injured before 1914, when they used to place the puck on the ice between the players’ sticks for face-offs.
Therefore since 1914, the referees were allowed to drop the puck between the players’ sticks. Much safer, don’t you agree!
The National Hockey League (NHL) was founded on November 22, 1917.
The fastest recorded slapshot was Bobby Hull’s, a staggering 118 miles per hour.
Wayne Gretzky holds 61 NHL records, the most by far of any player.
The first NHL goal was scored in 1917 by Dave Ritchie of the Montreal Wanderers against the Toronto Arenas.
The NHL record for most goals in a game is owned by Joe Malone, who scored seven times for the Quebec Bulldogs against the Toronto St. Pats on the 31th of January, 1920.
The Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Toronto, Ontario.
Before the 1927-28 season, forward passes were not allowed in hockey.
In 1932, the former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs became the first arena with a four-sided game clock.
In 1949, Frank Zamboni designed the first self-propelled ice-clearing machine.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante is credited with being the creator of the modern goalie mask.
Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita is most often credited with the creation of the curved stick blade in the 1960s.
Phil Esposito of the Boston Bruins was the first NHL player to record 100 points in a season, in 1969.
In 1971, the Boston Bruins signed Bobby Orr to a five-year deal worth $200,000 per season —the first million dollar contract in NHL history.
Darryl Sittler holds the NHL record for most points in a single game. He scored five goals and he had five assists on the 6th of February, 1976. With his great performance he helped Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Boston Bruins.
Paul Coffey of the Edmonton Oilers set an NHL record for defensemen with 37 points in the 1985 playoffs.
In 1992, goalie Manon Rhéaume became the first woman to play in the NHL, suiting up for the Tampa Bay Lightning during an exhibition game.
Twelve women either as owners or team executives have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.
The Montreal Canadians have won the most Stanley Cups in league history, with 23. The most recent came in 1993.
The last player in the NHL to play without a helmet was Craig MacTavish, who retired in 1997.
The standard North American ice rink is 200 feet long and 85 feet wide.
Before games, hockey pucks are frozen to prevent them from bouncing during play.
The diameter of a hockey puck is three inches.
Regulation hockey nets are six feet wide and four feet tall.
Goalies cannot carry, or even touch the puck on the opposite side of the centre line.
The layer of ice in a pro hockey rink is usually three-quarters of an inch thick and is kept at a temperature of -9 degrees Celsius.
Former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ron Hextall was the first goaltender to score a goal by shooting the puck into the other team’s net.
Are you ready to replace the goalkeeper? The rules of hockey state that if the team’s two goalkeepers are injured during a game, they can be replaced by anybody, even a fan from the arena!
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about ice hockey that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!