Oh Canada! series (3) – Ice Hockey & Wayne Gretzky
Canada Day is July 1st so to extend Canada’s birthday celebration, this week I bring you an “Oh Canada” series. I will feature some of the wonderful people, places, creatures and features that make Canada so special!
Today I share with you a little about the History of Ice Hockey and a beloved Canadian who’s changed Ice Hockey History forever – Mr. Wayne Gretzky.
Having immigrated to Canada from the Tropics in 2002, the sport of Ice Hockey was alien to me. I was first introduced to hockey via my husband’s stinky hockey gear. When he came home from a game, I always directed him to take his gear straight to the balcony so they may breathe in the open. I’ve been to a few of his games, and it appears to me as a fast and rough sport. I have many times turned down my husband’s invitation to watch a live NHL game with him. I am quite claustrophobic and it’ll be crowded and loud at the arena -that’s for sure- so he goes with his buddy Salman or Dean.
History of Ice Hockey:
It all started in C-A-N-A-D-A
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.
Read more on the history of hockey
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.
Canada’s Gift to the World of HOCKEY
Wayne Douglas Gretzky
Centre, Shoots Left, 6′ 185 lbs.
Born January 26, 1961
Born in Brantford, Ontario,Canada, Wayne Gretzky lived perhaps the most famous childhood of any athlete. When he was six years old, his father, Walter, built a rink in the family’s backyard, and it was there that Wayne skated for hours on end, every day, practising his skating, shooting and stickhandling and learning everything about the game from his dad. “It was for self-preservation,” Walter admitted. “I got sick of taking him to the park and sitting there for hours freezing to death.” From the time he was six, he played many leagues above his age. He scored only one goal in his first year, when he was playing with ten-year-olds, but each season his skills increased dramatically and he soon set scoring records that seemed preposterous, notably a 378-goal season in his last year in pee wee in Brantford. As he progressed, he earned the nickname “the White Tornado” because he wore white hockey gloves and because of his speed and skill. Each year he played at a higher level, and each year he maintained his superiority.
When he was 14, he decided that the pressure of playing in his small hometown was too great and jealous players and parents made him unhappy. He decided to move to Toronto and there he played for the Toronto Nats…Read more on Wayne Gretzky’s Bio(I don’t have enough room to post every single victory in the life of this amazing athlete.)
My husband has this to share about Wayne Gretzky:“I remember hearing a story from Wayne Gretzky on Hockey Night in Canada about how he learned a lot about the game from his father. His Dad had taken him to an NHL game and given him a pen and a piece of paper. He told Wayne to watch only the top player and trace everywhere he went onto the sheet of paper, disregarding all other players and action. At the end of the game, Wayne’s sheet of paper was heavily marked with the areas that the best player had spent the most of his time and that one could consider to be the key areas of the ice.”(by Michael Wortman)
FYI: “Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto”
Playing host to Wayne’s personal collection of memorabilia, Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto is in fact three places in one. The upscale dining room has a unique décor which highlights Wayne’s greatest moments, where our guests can enjoy great food and great, friendly service. The winning sports bar boasts 20 HDTV’s showing all sports, all the time. The fabulous Oasis Rooftop Patio is as individual as the restaurant, and welcomes guests to relax under the sun and stars from May to October(www.gretzky.com/restaurant)
** Watch the Legends of Hockey Gretzky video and learn who was religiously keeping his hockey memorabilia from the very start…
He shoots, he scores!