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Saturday, May 23, 2009

History of Hockey: Early Years

The game of Hockey has been around from the time of early civilization. Some of the reports find the earliest origin of the game 4000 years back. Field hockey was reportedly played even before the birth of Christ. Basically known as the “ball and stick” game, it was played since ancient times in places diverse as Rome, Scotland, Egypt and South America. The game was referred to in different names but the basic idea of playing the game was the same. The most apt used term was “Hockie” by the Irish. Though the term was coined centuries ago, the word found its way through to the present generation.

In the 17th and the early 18th century England, the game acquired a fiercely competitive and chaotic form. Villages would compete against their neighboring hamlets and there were nearly 100 players in one team. The game was a matter of pride and manhood; so the game acquired a dangerous form. The game would last for half a month and many players would end up injured and grievously hurt. The umpires were there but they were more of mute spectators, who would make a call only if a team asked them to.

After some years, common sense and a logical and organized approach to the game came into play with the introduction of revision of rules. The game was limited to 30 players for each team. The Eton College of England drafted some rules to bring sanity to the game. The Hockey Association was formed in the year 1875 and some of the rules chalked out were implemented. The results were quite positive and more rules like giving the umpire enough authority were soon drawn to improve the quality of the game.

History of Ice Hockey

The game of ice hockey probably evolved from the game of field hockey that was played in Northern Europe for hundreds of years. The modern version of ice-hockey finds its origins in the rules laid down by a Canadian named J G Creighton. His rules were implemented in the first game of ice hockey played in Montreal, Canada in the year 1875.

In fact, the “rink” or the playing area for ice hockey was actually used in the game called “curling” in Scotland during the 18th century. Initially there were as many as thirty players for each side and the goals were two stones frozen on one end of the ice. The rules for the game of ice hockey were drafted at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in the year 1879. Ice hockey found its way to the US in the year 1893. By the early 1900s, the sport had become prevalent in parts of Europe including the UK.

Hockey stick history

The hockey stick was introduced in the early 1800s. The first stick was created of wood with a flat blade. In the 1920s, hockey players began to tape their sticks to increase the hold and strengthen the blade. The banana curve or the bend in the blade which we see today was developed during the phase between the years 1957-1980. A certain player named Bobby Hull broke a stick at a practice match and began to play around with the “bent” stick and found to his amazement that there was far more accuracy in his shots. In the early 1980s, the sticks were formed of metals. By the turn of the 21st century, there have been three types of hockey sticks-wood, composite (reinforced wood sticks) and aluminum. The aluminum hockey sticks are most often used today because of its light weight, durable nature and replaceable blades.

Olympic hockey history

The first year that Hockey was played in the Olympics was in the year 1908. Only men were permitted to play the game. It was only in the year 1980, that women got the opportunity to play Hockey in the Olympics. Ice hockey was played in early April of 1920 as a part of the Olympic Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium. The tournament was also famous for being the first World Hockey Championship. Canada was the clear cut winner in the championship. The first Olympic Winter Games are held in Chamonix, France, in the year 1924 with Canada winning all five games.

Canadian hockey history

Legend has it that a Canadian by the name of Pierre Lapin introduced the game of ice-hockey. He would implement a crooked stick to help him walk comfortably over the surface of the ice. This particular stick, also known as the first stick is now kept in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto. He swung the stick at a piece of a frozen beaver bladder and came up with the idea of ice hockey. The bladder fell short of a small bay which was an imitation of the goal post. Soon the whole idea developed into a game of ice hockey and many people began to play the game of hockey on the snow and icy area. The then Prime Minister Stanley Park decided to form a league of talented player and offer a prize to the winning team. A tea pot was offered as the prize. The prize soon began to set a trend for future games. In 1926, the National Hockey League (NHL) emerged unquestionably as the top league in North America and took official control of the cup. The tea-pot shaped prize now known as the Stanley cup is the most coveted trophy in the world of ice-hockey.

We have seen how Hockey has emerged as a clear winner through the ages. Just like the way our civilization has developed, so has our attitude towards the game. Today also, the game has the same amount of fierceness and raw passion synonymous with its traditional approach. However the passion is also matched with a drive to play the game in the true spirit of sportsmanship and healthy competition.

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