Alright I thought that with Hockey Day in Canada coming up I would do a piece on it and dive into the origins of the game we all love. I also got an idea from my fiancee to put a list of strange facts about the game at the end of this article, so any thanks for that piece go to her.
Now we can debate all day as to where our national passtime began, like whether it was in Europe where painter Pietr Brugel created a piece labeled "Hunters in the Snow" (circa 1565). This piece showed skaters carrying curved sticks. One of these skaters is depicted bringing his stick into contact with a small object on the ice. Or maybe it was in Sweden where it is known from the journals of Olaus Magnus (the last Catholic Archbishop of Sweden) that polished iron blades were used for skates in the Gulf of Bothnia area in the 1500's. Other experts on the sport trace the beginnings of the game to Mesopotamia, in the third millenium B.C. They point to Tablet XII of the Gilgamesh Epic (an ancient text from what is now known as Iraq) that show men with curved sticks trying to manipulate an object on a dirt surface. No matter where it started, hockey has been around for much longer than any of us could have imagined.
The first organized game of ice hockey, however, leads us to Montreal, where it has been endorsed by the International Ice Hockey Federation. There is documented proof in newspapers that an organized game between two teams with a recorded score was played at the city's Victoria Rink on March 3rd, 1875. This is the earliest description of an actual game being played with a recorded score. Of course as we all should have guessed the game ended in a brawl.
There has been more proof since then that strengthens Montreal's claim. This includes direct progression of the game. Some two weeks after the momentous game on March 3rd, another game was played at the same rink. The founding of the McGill Hockey Club in January 1877; The publication of written rules in February 1877; A highly publicized tournament at the Montreal Winter Carnival in 1883, as well as the founding of the Amateur of Hockey Association of Canada in 1886. So with this in mind, the first real structured game of ice hockey originates in our great nation of Canada.
Hockey Day in Canada is a once a year event that is meant to celebrate the game in Canada. This year it will also be available for all you fans in the states who have NHL Network. The event started in 2001 in Red Deer, Alberta. This year will mark it's ninth\
year anniversary. The event features lead commentators Ron MacLean and Don Cherry broadcasting from a remote location. This year it will be Campbellton, New Brunswick. It starts at 12:00pm EST. The events of the day include an NHL triple header featuring all six canadian teams. It will start with the Montreal Canadiens hosting the Ottawa Senators at 3:00pm EST. This is to be a battle of the opposites with the Canadiens on a big slide of late and the Senators surging forward. Game 2 is the Vancouver Canucks taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7:00pm EST. This game much like the first has a Canucks team on a roll (7-2-1) in their last ten and the sliding Maple Leafs (4-3-3) in their last ten. Both the Maple Leafs and the Senators are trying to make it into the playoffs, but being on the outside looking in and 13 points out of 8th place it will be a long hard climb with a little luck needed. The Canadiens and the Canucks are both in the playoffs trying to hold onto their spots as 9th place is 5 points or less away. The third game on tap will feature the always entertaing battle of Alberta. One of the fiercest rivalries in the league will come into play pititng the Edmonton Oilers versus the Division leading Calgary Flames. The Oilers are currently in 8th place and trying to climb in the standings while the Flames are in 3rd leading the Northwest by 8 points. (I will be doing a seperate preview of this game so be sure to look for it.) These games all have playoff implications and each one will be exciting to watch. As with every HDIC there promises to be lots of entertaining events in between and before the games so make sure to tune in for Canada's celebration to its greatest sport.
And like i promised above heres a lits of some strange facts and events in Hockey's History. (If anyone would like more information on any of these just let me know and ill get you the full story behind them)
-In the 1950 Playoff series the New York Ranger's were forced to use Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens as their home ice due to Madison Square Gardens being used for the circus. (Apparently it was more important back then.)
-A 1930 financially challenged Ottawa Senators team decided to sell their best player Frank "King" Clancy for $35,000 to the first team to come up with the cash. The Maple leafs wanted him but the board would only agree to $25,000 so GM Conn Smythe laid down a $200 dollar bet on a a horse race where the horse was 106-1 longshot which won. This awarded him with over $11,000, enough cash to buy the star player.
-On March 31, 1923 Frank "King" Clancy played every positon for his team. In those days players had to fill in for whatever gap was left when a player needed a rest or was injured and Clancy ended up playing both sides of defense and every forward position. He even played goalie since when a goalie got penalized back then it was their job to serve the penalty. So Clancy played 2 minutes of goal and never let one in.
-In 1924 after the Montreal Canadiens had won the Stanley Cup some players piled into a car with the cup to head to a party at coach Leo Dandurand's home. However they got a flat tire and the players jumped out to fix it setting the Stanley Cup on the sidewalk. After they fixed the tire they jumped back into the car and drove to the party leaing the cup behind. They got all the way there before realizing it and turned right around to get it. Lucky for them it was still there.
-On February 9th, 1972 after a hard fought 3-1 win against Vancouver Canucks, Philidelphia Flyers goalie Bruce Gamble complained he wasn't feeling well. When examined by a doctor he found out he had had a heart attack in the first period without his knowledge! Somehow he finished the game without knowing.
-The last player to wear number 00 before the league banned its use was Martin Biron in a call-up during the 1995-1996 season.
-In the 1974 draft Punch Imlach with Buffalo's 11th pick 183rd overall he selected a player that never existed! Imlach chose Taro Tsujimoto who he said played for the Tokyo Katanas in the Japanese League. It wasn't until weeks later that Imlach admitted that there was no such player and it was just a creation of his bored imagination and based on a name he found in the Buffalo area phone book. Buffalo was not allowed to make another pick and in the record books it is recorded as an invalid claim. Although the player enver existed he is still to this day, cited in Buffalo's official team media guide.
Thats everything for tonight guys i hope you enjoyed this read and if you would like any more information on the facts above or would just like to know any other strange hockey facts just message me. Don't forget to leave a comment.