Little Bits of History

Puck You

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2013
1895 Montreal hockey team

1895 Montreal hockey team

November 26, 1917: The National Hockey League (NHL) is founded. The Montreal Canadians, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, and Toronto Arenas began play on December 19, 1917 with both Montreal teams winning their first games. The Canadians beat Ottawa 7-4 and the Wanderers edged out Toronto 10-9. Hockey, both field and ice, have been around for millennia. The modern form of ice hockey comes from Montreal. The first recorded organized indoor game was played there on March 3, 1875.

It became a college sport when McGill University Hockey Club was founded in 1877. The college teams aged and next the Amateur Hockey Association (AHA) of Canada was formed in 1886. The National Hockey Association (NHA) was founded in 1909 for Professionals. There were business disputes, owner and player disagreements and the NHA was abandoned and the NHL created at a meeting at the Windsor Hotel. The teams struggled financially at first but on the ice, they were supreme. They lost the Stanley Cup once, in 1925.

The NHL began expansion efforts for the 1924-25 season and looked across the border to Boston, admitting the Bruins as the first US team. The teams expanded to ten by the 1925-26 season. The Great Depression and WWII decimated the League and by 1942 they were once again reduced to six teams: Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black Hawks, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers. These teams are called the Original Six and were the only teams in the NHL for a quarter century. Today there are 30 teams in the NHL, 24 from the US and six from Canada.

The players’ equipment has changed over the years. Gear originally was rudimentary and consisted of skates and a hockey stick with team members wearing matching shirts. Early skates were shoes with a blade attached and sticks were tree branches. Eventually shin guards were donned but added little protection so players stuffed newspapers or magazines behind them. Goalies began wearing masks in 1959 with Jacques Plante taking heat for the sissy move. The last maskless goalie played in 1973. Players began wearing helmets, usually while recovering from head injuries, in the early 1970s. The last helmetless player was Craig MacTavish who retired in 1997.

“Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.” – Stephen Leacock

“Ice hockey is a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept.” – Doug Larson

“By the age of 18, the average American has witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television, most of them occurring during Game 1 of the NHL playoff series.” – Steve Rushin

“How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?” – Jacques Plante

“My other car is a Zamboni.” – Hockey Saying

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: In both Canada and the US, the game is called simply hockey, however in countries that also play field hockey, to distinguish the two games, it is called ice hockey. As played today, the teams usually consists of four lines which are made up of two forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie. The five members (forwards and defense) skate up and down the rink while the goalie protects the net from a score as the hockey puck passes inside. The goaltender has more specific padding than those skating around the rink. Hockey is Canada’s national winter sport. The game is mainly played in North America and Europe. There have been 177 medals awards by the IIHF World Championships and of those, 163 have been won by seven nations. Those countries are Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and the US. In the Olympics, 66 medal have been awarded and only six did not go to the above seven countries. All 12 and 36 INHF World Women’s Championships have gone to the seven countires with every gold medal in both competitions going to either Canada or the US.

Also on this day: Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
KV62 – In 1922, Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb.
Water – In 1805, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct opened.

Hockey is Rough

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 22, 2013
Clint Malarchuk injured on the ice

Clint Malarchuk injured on the ice

March 22, 1989: Ice hockey goaltender Clint Malarchuk  is hurt during a game. Malarchuk was playing for the Buffalo Sabres. They were hosting the St. Louis Blues. Steve Tuttle of St. Louis collided with Uwe Krupp of Buffalo in front of the goal. Tuttle’s skate blade caught Malarchuk on the neck and severed his jugular vein. Bleeding profusely, Malarchuk managed to leave the ice under his own power with the help of the team’s athletic trainer, Jim Pizzutelli.

Hockey is known for its violence and injuries are commonplace. Even so, the amount of blood on the ice was overwhelming. In the stands, nine people fainted and two others had heart attacks. Three of Malarchuk’s teammates vomited on the ice. The game was being televised and the cameras cut away as soon as they realized the extent of the injury. Malarchuk’s mother was at home watching the game. Malarchuk said he knew he was dying and didn’t want his mother to see him do so. He had someone call her and tell her he loved her and then sent for a priest.

Pizzutelli had been a medic in Vietnam and he is credited with saving Malarchuk’s life. He pinched the major blood vessel closed and did not let go until doctors arrived and began to suture the wound. Doctors said if the blade had hit just 1/8 inch higher, Malarchuk would have been dead within two minutes. Instead, they worked for 90 minutes and placed more than 300 stitches to close the wound. Malarchuk spent one night in the hospital and was back at practice 4 days later and back as goalie a week after the incident.

Malarchuk continued to play until 1992 and went on to coach the sport. The NHL does not require players to wear any sort of neck protection. In 1995, Swedish hockey player Bengt Akerblom was injured in a similar manner and died due to blood loss. On June 1, 1996 Swedish players were mandated to wear neck protection. On February 10, 2008 while the Florida Panthers were in Buffalo, Richard Zednik was also injured by a skate blade cutting his neck. He, too, survived.

“All I wanted to do was get off the ice. My mother was watching the game on TV, and I didn’t want her to see me die.” – Clint Malarchuk

“Doctors told me to take the rest of the year off, but there was no way. The longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be. I play for keeps.” – Clint Malarchuk

“A puck is a hard rubber disc that hockey players strike when they can’t hit one another.” – Jimmy Cannon

“Red ice sells hockey tickets.” – Bob Stewart

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Only two players from the NHL have died as a result of on-ice injuries. Howie Morenz (1937) died from complications from a broken leg, suffered on the ice while playing for the Canadiens. While recuperating in the hospital, he began complaining of chest pain and which may have been a heart attack. He tried to get up, but collapsed onto the floor and was found there, dead at the age of 34. Bill Masterson (1968) was moving the puck down ice when he was checked. He fell backwards onto the ice and struck the back of his head. He received a massive brain hemorrhage and died two days later at the age of 29. Akerblom played for a Swedish team when he was injured in the same manner as Malarchuk. Not as lucky, he bled to death at the age of 28.

Also on this day: Laser – In 1960, the laser was patented.
Flying Wallendas – In 1978, Karl Wallenda died from a fall.
Preschool Predicament – In 1984, the McMartin Preschool indictments were brought.