History of Hockey

Where did Hockey come from? That's a good question, as you'd think that it started in North America because of its popularity here; the biggest league in the world, the NHL. As far as the history of hockey, it actually started in the 18th and 19th centuries in the Europe with a simple stick-and-ball game that was played on ice during the pre-Christian era. There is a well known picture found in Sweden showing people playing hockey on the River Thames in England on or around December 1796. It wasn't until the British soldiers started immigrating to Canada and the US and brought the game of hockey with them. There are actual painting with prominent high level military British Army officers playing hockey in North America in the early years of colonization in North America. Also, the First Nations people had a stick-and-ball game as well played by the Mi'kmaq in eastern Canada where sticks made by them were used by the British soldier for their games too. So a real mix of culture coming together. But it was in the city of Montreal where the actual official organized game of hockey as we know it today began. On March 3, 1875, is when the first organized indoor game was played at Montreal's Victoria Skating Rink between two nine-player teams. What did they use for a puck? The puck back then was actually made from a flat piece of wood that was circular in shape, before the traditional hard rubber used today. It wasn't until 1876 that things really started to get organized and the Hockey Association was creating using England's field hockey organization's 6 of their 12 rules. Over the years the teams started to grow and the eventually they held the first "world championship" of ice hockey at Montreal's annual Winter Carnival in 1883. It wasn't called the Stanley Cup but called the Carnival Cup. There weren't three periods either, but the game was broken up into two thirty minute halves. As hockey grew there were more teams and more people came to watch.

How the NHL started

The NHL is the biggest and most popular hockey league in the world now and all started when after Canada's National Hockey Association decided to disband in 1917 and the result was the creation of the National Hockey League. In 1927 the league expanded into the US marketplace but the first original six teams where: The Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. How did it become 12? Well, the California Seals (later renamed the Oakland Seals and then the California Golden Seals), Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues brought the NHL from six to 12 teams. There are lots of trophies in the NHL too, but it's the Stanley Cup that is the championship cup. It is known to be the toughest trophy to win in modern day professional sports. The list of main trophies teams and players can win over the season and into the playoffs include: Hart Memorial Trophy, Vezina Trophy, James Norris Memorial Trophy. Calder Memorial, Trophy, Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. Frank J. Selke Trophy and the Jack Adams Award. The NHL league continues to expand with the latest team from Las Vegas called the Golden Knights who will be part of the Pacific Division. Today, Forbes estimates the average NHL franchise is worth $505 million, with multimillion dollar player contracts and millions in merchandising being made every year.