Any sport making it to the Olympics speaks volume about it. Similarly, ice hockey, a global sport, is a featured sporting event at the Olympics. The market is enormous for ice hockey, particularly in Canada, as per an estimate there are more than a million professional ice hockey players in the world.
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One of the most widely watched sports in the world and the most popular in Canada. This game features six players in a team competing to score more goals than the other. Players contest in an ice rink wearing skates with the objective of putting the puck across the goal line dodging the goalie.
Let’s take a look back at the origins of the game before it became a worldwide phenomenon.
How did it all start?
Research shows the origins go back to the 1800s in Nova Scotia. Micmac Indians used to play a similar game influenced by the Irish game called hurling, which featured a hurley and wooden block.
It then majorly spread through Canada via immigrants from Scotland, Ireland, and the British Army. With time, it adopted changes from field hockey due to similarities in playing behaviour. In the beginning, it was called shinty or shinny and then changed its name to hockey inspired by the French word ‘hoquet’. The term rink used dominantly in the game originated from the Irish game curling, which was also played on ice.
At first, ice hockey used to have 30 players a side looking to pass the ball through a goal-line made from the stones frozen into the ground. Yes, in the early days, the game was played with the ball and the puck was introduced later. It was first used in 1860 in Canada.
The early life of ice hockey
What we see today in ice hockey is nothing compared to the early days of the game. Gradually, as the sport moved indoors, it started gaining popularity, and initially, the rules were from field hockey.
The first official indoor game was played in 1875 in Montreal between university teams. However, the first organisation came into being in 1885 known as Amateur Hockey Association, which also limited the teams to seven players and then six including five playing field players and a goalie.
The turning point of the game was when governor-general Fredrick Arthur donated a cup to be awarded to the top Canadian team, the Stanley Cup. A three-foot silver cup is named after the governor-general himself known as the Lord Stanley of Preston. The Montreal Amateur Athletic Association won the cup for the first time in 1892-93. It was until 1926 that the cup was awarded to the winner of the challenge series, now it is lifted by the winners of the National Hockey League playoffs.
Who is the favourite to win NHL 2022?
In the quest for the Stanley Cup, 32 teams are divided into two conferences, Eastern and Western, with two divisions each. A total of eight teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs – three from each division and two wild cards, regardless of division positions. A best-of-seven series is then played to determine the winner of the Stanley Cup between the champions of each conference.
Although the Montreal Canadiens are the most successful NHL team with 24 championships, the Colorado Avalanche are favorites to win this season and the Stanley Cup betting odds support this argument.