This post came to mind after reading Kim’s admission she is a Habs, (Montreal Canadiens) fan. To read her confession just head over here. I have been teasing Diana about being a Calgary Flames fan. The Oilers and Flames are a provincial rivalry, in hockey that has few if any equals. As many of my readers live in places where ice, is only found in their beverage, I thought I would explain hockey a little. The Montreal Canadiens use the French spelling of Canadians, as Montreal is the largest French speaking city in our bi-lingual country.
Hockey is first mentioned in 1363 in England as part of a list of banned sports. The word hockey is thought to have come from the Middle French word hoquet, which was the name for a Shepard’s hooked staff. The modern game has been part of the Olympics since the 1920 Summer Games. Yes you read that correctly, a winter game showcased during the the Summer Games. Luckily cooler minds prevailed and in 1924 hockey became a Winter Games sport where it has remained since.
The premier league in the world is the National Hockey League, which is normally referred to as the NHL. The NHL was originally an all Canadian league founded in Montreal in 1917, with four teams. Since 1924 the league has been bi-national with teams in Canada and the USA. Today there are thirty teams in the NHL, with seven in Canada and twenty three in the USA. The trophy the champions are awarded is called the Stanley Cup. The NHL has played games in other countries since 1938. That year the Montreal Canadiens played a nine game series in England and France, with the Canadiens winning the series with a 5-3-1 record. In 1959 the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers played a 23 game our through 10 cities in Europe, which was won by the Rangers with a 11-9-3 record. In 1975/1976 the NHL played the Russian Red Army team, and the Soviet Wings in what was called the Super Series, the Russian teams won the series with a 5-2-1 record.The NHL has continued with international games, and they have helped develop the sport world wide.
The objective of the game is to shoot a puck into the oppositions goal. Each team normally has three forwards, two defense man and a goalie on the ice. This number may be reduced due to penalties, and if the goalie is the penalized player, one of the other players on the ice will serve the time in his place. Also teams sometimes will pull the goalie and replace him with an extra attacker to score a goal to tie the game and force overtime. The game consists of three 20 minute periods. If the teams are tied at the end of regulation the game will go into overtime. Until the 1983/84 season except for playoffs the game ended in a tie. Since then a 5 minute overtime period has been played, but with only 4 skaters and a goalie on each team, instead of the normal 5 skaters and goalie. Since 2005/06 a shoot out has been used to determine a winner, with each team choosing three skaters to go one on one against the opposng teams goalie. If either team scores more goals than the other, they are declared the winner. However if they remain tied after the first three shooters, each team will continue to send out one player, until one team has scored and the other team hasn’t scored. During the playoffs there is no shoot out, rather a 20 minute period is played under sudden death rules, in other words first goal scored ends the game.
In 2003 the Edmonton Oilers hosted the first outdoor game in the NHL’s history. Played on a temporary ice surface at Commonwealth Stadium, the football stadium, the game attracted 57,167 spectators. The game was conceived to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oilers joining the NHL, and the 20th anniversary of their first Stanley Cup. The Montreal Canadiens were chosen as the opposition for the game, being the most successful team having won 24 Stanley cups. The Oilers even though a young team won 5 over seven years in the 1980/90s and lost a possible sixth cup in 2006 in the seventh and final game.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief introduction to my favorite sport, and if you want to know more check out the NHL website. Now it’s your turn let us know what your favorite sport is, and a little bit about it.