History of Hockey

🕒 5 minutes
hockey fans

A lot of people around the world love hockey. It is entertaining both to watch and play. Every boy dreams of becoming the next Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, or Sidney Crosby, and getting a puck right from the rink is a priceless trophy. But how did this sport become so popular and why hasn’t it yet lost its grip on the fans? Let us explore the history of the game and find the answer to these questions.

What is hockey and how many game variations are there?

For those living under a rock, hockey can be defined as a number of outdoor and indoor sports games for both summer and winter seasons. There are multiple types of this sport, including:

  • On rollers – played on a field wearing rollerblades. Both a ball and a puck can be used;
  • Field hockey – is played on a field of artificial turf, sand, or gravel and involves a small ball;
  • Street one – players wear rollerblades and play this game on asphalt or any other solid surface outside, by tossing a ball with sticks. Usually does not involve wearing any protective gear;
  • Bandy – is played with a ball on an ice arena;
  • Parahockey – also known as ice sledge game, is designed for players with disabilities;
  • And, the most popular one of them all – ice hockey.

The rules of the game are known to everyone. Two teams try to score goals with a puck or a ball, using sticks. Depending on where it is played, a puck can have either a disk or a donut shape with a hole in the middle. There are other variations that were inspired by it like air, box, mini, etc.

mini hockey

The history of hockey: how it all started

It is difficult to state the exact hometown. The evidence of a game that can be considered a prototype was found in Ancient Egypt. On a 4000-year-old plaque, men are shown tossing a ball with sticks. In its modern form home country for it is presumed to be Ireland. In 1527, a prohibition of various types of sports was issued by the Irish government, including a game that was fairly similar to modern-day field one.

The 19th century is the time when different variations of this game become popularized. Ice hockey history infamously starts with Canada, where players spread the word about this type of sport around the world.

hockey in Canada

Indian variant takes a separate place in the differentiation of this sport. It is played majorly by men on the field. The history of Indian type takes its roots in the British regiments who created a fashion for this game in India in the 1800s and soon, it became a national sport. It is currently managed by Hockey India.

Indian hockey

Indian resembles field hockey in its rules and is played only by male sportsmen. To make this game even more popular in the country, the Primary League has been taking place annually since 2005.

Sport protective gear

At first, when the game only started becoming famous, the safety of the players was not a priority. Sportsmen did not have any protection and suffered from multiple injuries, especially to the head. The helmet history starts from the late 1920s when the first models appeared on sale. They were only worn by those athletes recovering from head injuries. The first player who wear a helmet at all times on the rink was George Owen. It was only in 1979 that the National Hockey League declared helmets to be a compulsory part of the uniform.

Hockey protective gear

Other aspects of protective gear like shinguards, gloves and leg, back, or shoulder pads were not popular n the late 1800s – early 1900s. In 1896, Winnipeg Victorias goalie George Merritt wore cricket leg pads to protect himself from the puck. That was the first instance of a goalkeeper wearing any protection.

International Competitions

The History of the Hockey World Cup

Hockey World Cup

The first international ice competition that allowed top professional players to compete was launched in 1976 in Canada (Canada Cup). It was inspired by the FIFA World Cup and took place every 3-5 years until 1991. In 1996, it was replaced by the World Cup of Hockey, which comprised 8 teams instead of the previous 6. The teams were from Canada, the U.S., Russia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Finland, called “the big 6”, and were later joined by Slovakia, as well as Germany.

Olympic Hockey History

Olympic Hockey

Ice hockey has been a part of the Olympic Games since 1920. At first, the Olympics was a competition for amateurs, however as many states started paying for sportsmen to train full-time, the contest changed to become professional. In 1988, it was officially allowed for professionals to compete at the Olympic Games. In 1998, the first women’s ice tournament was held.

Memorable Moments

Throughout the history, there were a lot of game moments that stuck in the memory of fans and made the players who were part of them famous. For instance, the best goal in hockey history was performed by 22-year-old Bobby Orr in 1970. It was a winning goal for the Stanley Cup.

the best goal in hockey by Bobby Orr in 1970

The most memorable moments do not necessarily have to be happy. The worst blowout happened in 1944. The New York Rangers lost to Detroit Red Wings with a whopping score of 15:0.

The first ever black player to break the color barrier was Willie O’Ree in 1958, who was released on the ice to replace an injured player. Ever since that moment, he became one of the most impactful people in hockey and trained a lot of black NHL players.

The first ever black hockey player Willie O’Ree

To this day, hockey remains one of the most popular sports globally and we hope to see more glorious moments in the game that will make history.
Also, you will be interested to read about children’s hockey sticks and ice grabbers for shoes.

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