Professional Ice Hockey has been a popular sport in the Western world for centuries. Today it is widespread throughout North America and Europe and played in other regions.
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While the origins of the game date back to 17th century England, modern ice hockey began in Canada in the early 1800s. The first games were heavily influenced by the Irish hurling and the English games of field hockey and soccer.
The first International Professional Hockey League began in 1904 in Michigan, soon followed by the National Hockey Association in Montreal. The National Hockey Association reformed into the National Hockey League in 1917, becoming the NHL that today’s fans know and love.
Professional hockey has grown worldwide, becoming a significant sport in Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA. Each of these and other countries throughout Eastern Europe has its own professional league and championships.
How Is Professional Ice Hockey Started?
A professional ice hockey game starts in the center of the ice with a face-off between the two teams. A referee drops the puck between two opposing players waiting in the center circle. These two players then scrap for the puck to win possession for their team.
What Are the Rules of Professional Ice Hockey?
The rules of professional ice hockey are relatively consistent across countries and leagues.
- Ice hockey is played in a rink with a goal at each end. The rink is divided into three parts, with a circle in the center. There are two other circles at each end of the rink, where opposing players face off after penalties.
- The object of the game is to score the puck into the opposing team’s goal. The entire puck must cross the goal line to be considered a goal. Whichever team scores the most goals wins the game.
- An ice hockey game is divided into three 20-minute periods. Each time the game stops, the clock stops, so a typical game lasts longer than the 60 minutes on the clock.
- Each team plays six people at a time but may have up to 20 people total on their team. One of the six players on the ice is typically a goalie, but teams may remove their goalie from the ice during the game. Players not on the ice remain on the bench until it is their turn to play.
- The goalie may not cross the center red line to the other half of the ice rink.
- Each player is equipped with a hockey stick and protective equipment. Typically, a hockey player’s equipment includes ice skates, a face mask, a helmet, gloves, and protective padding.
- Players may hit the puck with their stick or body, but only the goalie can handle the puck with their hands.
- A tie score at the end of the game results in overtime, during which the first goal scored wins the game.
- Body checking is allowed against the player with the puck, but not above the shoulders or in the back. Checking a player without the puck is a minor penalty.
- Players may not trip, hook sticks, or hold another player. Violating these rules results in a minor penalty.
- Minor penalties result in removal from the game for two minutes or until the opposing team scores a goal.
- Fighting or causing severe injury to another player can result in major penalties.
- Major penalties result in removal from the game for up to five minutes.
What Is Fighting in Ice Hockey?
Fighting in ice hockey occurs when two or more players engage in a physical altercation on the ice. This can happen for many reasons, such as perceived offense between players, frustration with the game, or general retaliation against an opposing team or player.
Fighting has long been considered a common and popular aspect of the game and is still permitted in professional leagues, with restrictions. Once a fight begins, uninvolved players must return to the bench. The fight is allowed to continue until the referee stops it.
The referee determines who started the fight (the instigator) and who won the fight (the aggressor). Each receives penalties as the referee deems fit. Occasionally, players will be fined or suspended for fighting.
What Are the Most Important Fights in Ice Hockey?
There have been many significant brawls in professional ice hockey history, especially throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
- 1936: Stanley Cup Final brawl between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.
- 1953: Bernard Geoffrion hit Ron Murphey in the face with his stick, knocking him unconscious, which resulted in a suspension from games against the Rangers that season.
- 1987: Ed Hospoday started a pre-game fight with Shayne Corson after he hit the puck into the goal, resulting in an entire-team brawl.
- 1996: Donald Brashear and Rob Ray started a brawl resulting in 20 ejected players.
- 2004: A fight that began between Donald Brashear and Rob Ray escalated until nearly every player was involved in their own tussle with an opponent.
- 2007: Georges Laraque and Donald Brashear had a quick but brutal fight.
What Are the Best Players of Professional Ice Hockey?
There have been many great players in the history of ice hockey.
- Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers) was the top scorer in NHL history.
- Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh Penguins) scored over 100 goals in six consecutive seasons, despite his battle with cancer.
- Bobby Orr (Chicago Blackhawks) was known for his high-scoring record as a defenseman.
- Maurice Richard (Montreal Canadiens) scored so many goals that the league names the top goalscorer award after him.
- Jean Beliveau (Montreal Canadiens) won the Stanley Cup in half of his seasons.
- Gordie Howe (Detroit Red Wings) scored 20 goals in 22 consecutive seasons in the NHL.
What Are the Best Moments of Professional Ice Hockey?
Ice hockey is a fast-paced and exciting game, so it’s no surprise that the sport’s best moments have gone down in history.
- 1980: Against all odds, the US team defeated the Soviet team in the Olympics, a feat known as the “miracle on ice.”
- 1970: Bobby Orr scored the game-winning goal in overtime of the Stanley Cup final.
- 1999: Wayne Gretzky played his final game as everyone on the ice and in MSG celebrated his record-breaking career.
- 1952: Bill Mosienko scored three goals in 21 seconds.
- 2010: Patrick Kane scored a “phantom” overtime goal resulting in the first Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup win in four decades.
- 2000: Ray Bourque finally lifted the Stanley Cup after a successful 20-year career without winning the championship.
Who Are the Best Professional Ice Hockey Antrenors?
Few people have as much to do with the success of a great team as the coach, many of whom stand out against others in ice hockey history.
- Scotty Bowman won the most games of any coach in NHL history, with 1243 wins and nine Stanley Cups.
- Al Arbour coached the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cups in the 70s and 80s.
- Dick Irvin made the playoffs in 24 of 27 seasons and won Stanley Cups in the mid 20th century.
- Toe Blake coached the Montreal Canadiens to five consecutive Stanley Cups and eight total during the 50s and 60s.
- Pat Quinn won 684 games over three decades of coaching, although he never won a Stanley Cup.
- Joel Quenneville has won 754 games and has led the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups.
What Are the Best Professional Ice Hockey Teams?
There are many excellent professional ice hockey teams, but these stand out as the top.
- The Montreal Canadiens hold the record for the most Stanley Cups with 24.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs are next with 13 Stanley Cups.
- In third place are the Detroit Red Wings, with 11 Stanley Cups.
- The Boston Bruins have 6 championships.
- The Chicago Blackhawks also have 6 championships under their belt.
What Are the Best Professional Ice Hockey Leagues by Countries?
Professional ice hockey leagues exist worldwide. These are the best leagues to follow.
- The National Hockey League is the top league to follow for teams across the USA and Canada.
- The Kontinental Hockey League is the strongest ice hockey league in Europe, including 27 teams across the continent.
- The Swedish Hockey League consists of 14 teams in Sweden.
- The Liiga is the top ice hockey league in Finland.
- The Czech Extraliga is a major league based in the Czech Republic.
- The National League A is the top league to follow in Switzerland.
- Germany has the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, a popular league founded in the 90s.
What Are the Exercises That a Professional Ice Hockey Player Should Perform?
Professional hockey players need to follow a regular workout routine that includes cardio and strength training. Popular routines among professional ice hockey players have the following.
- Regular cardiovascular training
- Lunges (front and side)
- Squats (single leg, barbell, hack)
- Bench Press
Hockey players should focus on their lower body muscles for improved skating, such as their quads, adductors, glutes, and hamstrings. To better their balance and stability, they should also focus on their core muscles, such as the obliques and rectus abdominis.
Do Professional Ice Hockey Players Use Sports Psychology?
Yes, professional ice hockey players use sports psychology to reset after mistakes, focus on the game, and visualize success. Professional hockey players also use sports psychology to improve their self-confidence, play more aggressively, and do better overall.
Do Professional Ice Hockey Trainers Use Mental Imagery?
Yes, professional ice hockey trainers use mental imagery to prepare for their games and to learn new skills in practice. Hockey trainers encourage visualization of desired results or mastering new skills to help hockey players improve their game.