History of Hockey

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The game of hockey can be traced back to the times of early civilization. Some reports state that the game of hockey originally known as the” ball and stick game” was played in ancient times and places as diverse as Rome Scotland Egypt and South America. The basic idea of the game was the same in all of these different places.

In the 17th and 18th century in England the game became a fiercely competitive and chaotic sport as villagers competed against neighboring hamlets. With nearly 100 players on each team the game became a matter of pride and manhood. Therefore it also became a very dangerous sport. One game of hockey could last for half a month and many players would end up injured or seriously hurt. There were umpires, but they were more like spectators who would only make a call if the team asked them to.

Eventually some common sense and a logical and organized approach for the game came into play with the revision of the rules. The Eton College of England drafted some rules to bring sanity into the game such as limiting teams to only 30 players. In the year 1875 the Hockey Association was formed. This association improved the rules even more, and even included giving the umpire authority in the game. This improved the safety, as well as the quality of the game.

So, the history of hockey shows that the game of ice hockey eventually evolved from the game of field hockey that had been played the world over for several hundred years. The version of ice hockey that we know today originated from the rules created by a Canadian, this man's rules were implemented in the first game of ice hockey played in Montréal Canada in the year 1875. A few years later in Montréal Canada official rules for the game of ice hockey were drafted at McGill University. By the early 1900s the sport of ice hockey had become prevalent in parts of Europe, the UK, the US and Canada. The modern International Ice Hockey Federation, that regulates the game worldwide, is based in Zurich, Switzerland.

November 15, 2008: Lawson Ice Arena, Michigan vs. Western Michigan.
November 15, 2008: Lawson Ice Arena, Michigan vs. Western Michigan.
Thanks to Greg-ography at flickr.com for the picture.

The history of the National Hockey League (NHL) actually begins with the National Hockey Assocation (NHA), formed in 1910 in Canada, which split into a couple of different associations before forming the NHL.

The first NHL season in 1917, started off very roughly. First, a team called the Bulldogs backed out. Then the Montréal Wanderers also quit in January of 1918. This essentially left the NHL with three teams to go for a championship. This first season for the NHL was also problematic due to the fact that the league was formed as a result of the split of the NHA. Owners of the teams in this league were not happy with Eddie Livingstone one of the team owners. Livingstone was not invited to join the NHL which led to many years of fighting and bickering.

Bruins vs. Devils 4/2/08 Prudential Center Newark, NJ.
Bruins vs. Devils 4/2/08 Prudential Center Newark, NJ.
Thanks to rubyswoon at flickr.com for the picture.

Frank and Lester Patrick were signed at $3000 each to the Millionaires team for the 1910 to 1911 season, kicking off the first bidding war in the history of the NHL. Player unrest was prevalent during the season because the unfit salaries.

Despite the rough start and all of the turmoil that the NHL faced in the beginning, like the game of hockey itself the NHL has risen out of the struggle to prevail and become one of the top sports organizations in the world.

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