Ice hockey in Canada

Ice hockey in Canada
Skaters playing a game of ice hockey at Esplande Park in Quebec City
Country Canada
Governing body Hockey Canada
National team(s) Men's national team;
Women's national team
First played 1862
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions

Ice hockey in Canada dates back to the 19th century. The sport is very popular and played year-round and at every level.[1] The modern form of ice hockey began in Canada in the late 19th century, and is widely considered Canada's national pastime, with high levels of participation by children, men and women at various levels of competition.[2][3]


The contemporary sport of ice hockey was developed in Canada, most notably in Montreal, where the first indoor hockey game was played on March 3, 1875. Some characteristics of that game, such as the length of the ice rink and the use of a puck, have been retained to this day.[4][5]

Before the formation of the NHL the first professional ice hockey leagues was the Coloured Hockey League in 1895.

The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy in North American sports. Lord Stanley of Preston was appointed by Queen Victoria to be the Governor General of Canada on June 11, 1888. While governor, ice hockey was still just forming in Canada. He first got to see the game of hockey played at Montreal's 1889 Winter Carnival. During the carnival he watched the Montreal Victorias play the Montreal Hockey Club. Since then, he and his family became very involved in the game of ice hockey. His two sons, Arthur and Algernon, convinced their father to donate a trophy that would be considered to be a visible sign of the ice hockey championship, which was a silver bowl inlaid with gold. The trophy was first presented in 1893 and was called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. The name of the trophy was later changed to its more famous name, The Stanley Cup.[6][7]

Professional teams emerged after 1900. Five cities in the United States and Ontario formed the International Professional Hockey League (IPHL) in 1904. The American-based league was the beginning of professional ice hockey. The IPHL attracted high end Canadian players, depriving Canada of its best players. Although many Canadian amateur teams paid their players under the table, most Canadian hockey associations still stuck to the codes of amateurism. The IPHL ceased after three years, but that was long enough to spark the creation of a Canadian-based professional league, the Ontario Professional Hockey League, in 1908. Though some believe the IHL's short existence was due to lack of spectator interest, the primary reason the league failed was a loss of good players back to Canadian teams that by 1906 played in hockey associations, such as the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association, that allowed professionals to play alongside amateurs. The National Hockey League was formed in 1917.[8]

The violence of the sport instigated the Ottawa Silver Seven and Montreal Wanderers rivalry of 1907. Newspapers described hockey as a combination of "brutal butchery" and "strenuous spectacle," speaking to public perceptions and different ways of experiencing the game. Ideals of respectable, middle-class masculinity and rough, working-class masculinity co-existed within accounts of fast, skilled, rugged, hard-hitting hockey.[9]

During the 1920s the Winnipeg's senior hockey league for the 1919-20 season, the Winnipeg Falcons, featuring the Icelandic Canadians, became Canadian national champions and won the 1920 Olympic gold medal in Antwerp for Canada in hockey. With their devotion to Canada in World War I, their integration made this team a symbol of Canadian masculinity, unaffected by the ethnic stereotyping and discrimination that affected some other sports teams during the 1920s.[10]

During the Great Depression, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association was forced to re-evaluate its position on amateurism in ice hockey and to assess its relationship to the amateur sports infrastructure in Canada, which was headed by the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada. The lackluster performance of the Canadian national hockey team at the 1936 Olympics, over player availability forced radcaial changes on approaches to how the game was formulated in the country.[11]

Maurice Richard is considered one of the greatest hockey players Canada has ever produced especially in Quebec. Richard won two Hart Trophies as league MVP, and led the Montreal Canadiens to eight Stanley Cups[12]

In September 1972, Canada's best hockey players from the National Hockey League (NHL) played the elite amateurs from the Soviet Union in a friendly series. When Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau met his Soviet counterpart, Alexei Kosygin, in 1971, their discussions included increasing the hockey competitions between the two countries. Soon after, hockey hierarchies of both nations decided on a series of eight games, four to be played across Canada and four in Moscow. For Canadians, the Summit Series was intended to be a celebration of their global supremacy in ice hockey. The architects of Soviet hockey, on the other hand, had designs on surprising Canada and the world with their skill and claiming the Canadian game as their own.[13]

National and international competitions

Prominent trophies for national championships in Canada are the Memorial Cup for the top junior-age men's team and the Allan Cup for the top men's senior team. There are national championships in several other divisions of play. Hockey Canada is the sport's official governing body in Canada and is a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). A Canadian national men's team, composed of professionals, competes in the annual IIHF Men's World Championship and in the Olympics. Russia and U.S.A are considered the Canada national team major rival.[14][15]

Participation rates

Ice hockey is one of the most played sports in the country at youth level.[16][17][18]

The sport is facing increaseing competition for youth participation from sports such as Basketball,[19] Soccer,[20] [21] Field hockey,[22] and the cost of participating in the sport abroad.[23][24] Hockey Canada does a lot exporting the sport.[25][26]

Women's ice hockey

Women's hockey in Canada is growing.[27][27]

National identity

Ice hockey is so popular it is conflated with Canadian national identity.[28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40]

See also


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  5. "Why hockey isn't really our game: Canada's national sport was born on the frozen ponds of England, book reveals | National Post". Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  6. "Why hockey isn't really our game: Canada's national sport was born on the frozen ponds of England, book reveals". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  7. "Ice hockey not invented in Canada? That's cold, man". 28 May 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2016 via The Guardian.
  8. Daniel S. Mason, "The International Hockey League and the Professionalization of Ice Hockey, 1904-1907." Journal of Sport History 1998 25(1): 1-17.ISSN 0094-1700
  9. Stacy L. Lorenz, and Geraint B. Osborne, "'Talk about Strenuous Hockey': Violence, Manhood, and the 1907 Ottawa Silver Seven-Montreal Wanderer Rivalry." Journal of Canadian Studies 2006 40(1): 125-156. ISSN 0021-9495
  10. Ryan Eyford, "From Prairie Goolies to Canadian Cyclones: the Transformation of the 1920 Winnipeg Falcons." Sport History Review 2006 37(1): 5-18.ISSN 1087-1659
  11. John Wong, "Sport Networks on Ice: the Canadian Experience at the 1936 Olympic Hockey Tournament." Sport History Review 2003 34(2): 190-212.ISSN 1087-1659
  12. Melançon Benoît, Les Yeux de Maurice Richard: Une Histoire Culturelle, (2006)
  13. J. J. Wilson, "27 Remarkable Days: the 1972 Summit Series of Ice Hockey Between Canada and the Soviet Union." Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 2004 5(2): 271-280. ISSN 1469-0764 Fulltext: EBSCO; Markku Jokisipilä, "Maple Leaf, Hammer, and Sickle: International Ice Hockey During the Cold War." Sport History Review 2006 37(1): 36-53. ISSN 1087-1659
  14. "World Cup of Hockey: Canada, Russia renew their historic rivalry - NHL on CBC Sports - Hockey news, opinion, scores, stats, standings". 2016-09-24. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  15. Jake Simpson (2014-02-20). "There's No Real Olympic Hockey Rivalry Between the U.S. and Canada". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
  16. "5. Most played sports in Canada - Sport Participation in Canada, 2005". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  17. Gardner, Sam. "Daily Buzz: Blind ice hockey in Canada is growing popularity". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  18. "Is hockey really Canada's game or is that a Canadian myth? - Toronto Star". Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  19. "How Basketball Overtook Hockey As The Most Popular Youth Sport In Canada". Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  20. "Step aside, hockey - The McGill Daily". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  21. "Gordon: Why soccer will overtake hockey in Canada". 1 July 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  22. Kingston, ,Gary. "Field hockey gets no respect in Canada". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  23. Sturgeon, Jamie. "Canada's game? Hockey losing ground among cash-strapped families". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  24. "Hockey numbers decreasing in Canada: Survey". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  25. "What is the influence of hockey on girls in Canada and Pakistan?" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  26. "Ice hockey". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  27. 1 2 Joseph, Janelle; Darnell, Simon; Nakamura, Yuka (24 May 2017). "Race and Sport in Canada: Intersecting Inequalities". Canadian Scholars’ Press. Retrieved 24 May 2017 via Google Books.
  28. "Hockey is more than a game to Canadians". 29 January 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2016 via Reuters.
  29. Riches, Sam (12 January 2015). "When Sport Defines a Nation". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  30. Cousins, Ben. "Hockey: Canada`s Pass Time, Religion and Way Of Life". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  31. "Richard Wagamese on hockey, residential schools and our national identity". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  32. Berkshire, Andrew. "For Canadians, winning hockey gold is a relief". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  33. "Yanover: No Canadian playoff teams hardly spells hockey's end". 18 April 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  34. Wong, John Chi-Kit (25 July 2009). "Coast to Coast: Hockey in Canada to the Second World War". University of Toronto Press. Retrieved 19 October 2016 via Google Books.
  35. Ritchie, Andrew (1 March 2004). "Ethnicity, Sport, Identity: Struggles for Status". Routledge. Retrieved 19 October 2016 via Google Books.
  36. Moreau, Nicolas; Laurin-Lamothe, Audrey (12 August 2015). "The Montreal Canadiens: Rethinking a Legend". University of Toronto Press. Retrieved 19 October 2016 via Google Books.
  37. Poulter, Gillian (1 January 2010). "Becoming Native in a Foreign Land: Sport, Visual Culture, and Identity in Montreal, 1840-85". UBC Press. Retrieved 19 October 2016 via Google Books.
  38. Nicholson, Matthew; Hoye, Russell; Houlihan, Barrie (10 September 2010). "Participation in Sport: International Policy Perspectives". Routledge. Retrieved 19 October 2016 via Google Books.
  39. Hotakie, Alima. "Nazem Kadri, a minority no more". Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  40. "Big Read: Why Canada will always be a hockey country -". Retrieved 29 June 2017.


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