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6 Things: The big 1-4-0

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Happy birthday hockey!

This past Tuesday came and went like every Tuesday does; we’re past Monday, but not mid-week yet – keep on keepin’ on. Yet unbeknownst to me, there was a celebration to be had, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper pointed out.


On March 3, 1875, the first recognized indoor ice hockey game took place at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal between teams made up of members from the skating club, including McGill University students. Interesting, I know. Tell me more! Sure.

Here are 6 Things you should know about hockey – the good, the bad and the unusual.


It seems like just yesterday that first hockey game was played, but it was actually 51,134 days ago; 1,227,216 hours, 73,632,960 minutes and 4,417,977,600 seconds have passed since indoor organized hockey was born. It was a Wednesday, if memory serves correct, and law clerk James Creighton arranged for two nine-player teams to compete in a 60-minute game featuring goalies, referees and a wooden puck. The Montreal Gazette even announced the game beforehand and wrote a game report like no other: “At the Rink last night a very large audience gathered to witness a novel contest on the ice.” Who won this momentous game? I have no idea. “...notwithstanding the brilliant play of Captain Torrance's team Captain Creighton's men carried the day, winning two games to the single of the Torrance nine.” Either way, it was the start of something big.


As a 10-year-old, Wayne Gretzky scored 378 goals and collected 139 assists 69 games with the Brantford Nadrofsky Steelers; in 1952 Billy Mosienko set the record for fastest hat trick in a single game at 21 seconds, which totaled 10 per cent of the goals he ever scored; Henri Richard of the Montreal Canadiens won 11 Stanley Cups between 1956 and 1973 giving him the most of any player (Jean Beliveau won 10 as a player, seven as an executive – most combined Cups); over the course of 820 NHL games, Val Fonteyne picked up only 26 penalty minutes, all minors, for an average of one every 63 games; perhaps the coolest record in league history: five goals, five ways from Mario Lemieux (pictured above), who scored at even strength, on the power play, shorthanded, on a penalty shot and into an empty net as the Penguins beat the Devils 8-6 on December 31, 1988.


According to Stephen Cole in the book Xtreme Hockey, NHL players can reach speeds in excess of 40 km (25 miles) per hour, meaning if a player were to skate for 30 minutes in a game, they’d burn 6,000 calories and could lose up to 15 pounds. Although individual puck possession isn’t officially tracked, it’s believed the average player has possession of the puck for 30 seconds during a game; add these two stats together and the importance of playing without the puck comes to light. As The Great One once said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Totes WG.


Some of the best sports movie ever are hockey thrillers, namely MVP: Most Valuable Primate and H-E Double Hockey Sticks. Sure, you could argue Slap Shot or Miracle are better hockey flicks, but I don’t see any chimpanzees on skates in those movies. I rest my case. There’s no arguing hockey’s place on the silver screen, however, and were it not for a hockey fan by the name of Martin Jay Sadoff, one of Hollywood’s most notorious killers wouldn’t be as frightening. In the first two films of the Friday the 13th series, Jason Voorhees (pictured above) didn’t wear a goalie mask; it wasn’t until Friday the 13th Part 3 that he dons the infamous mask. Sadoff, a 3D effects supervisor on the third film, had a bag of hockey gear with him on set and during a lighting check, he threw his goalie mask on Voorhees instead of having makeup applied. The original mask didn’t fit, but another was made and to this day remains one of the most recognizable faces of terror.


Before reading about the history of the Gordie Howe hat trick, I was under the impression one would have to accomplish a feat numerous times to earn a nickname. This is not the case, apparently. The year was 1955, the player was Mr. Hockey (pictured to right with a young Wayne Gretzky). Howe, a 27-year-old Detroit Red Wings forward, scored a goal, had an assist and dropped the gloves against the Boston Bruins. Legend has it this is one of the only, if not the only, time in his career he accomplished the trifecta, making it quite bizarre the feat was named after him. ("I spilled wasabi on my shirt one time, people!") Although this is not an official stat, Gordie Howe hat tricks are tracked by the Society for International Hockey Research, among others, and according to their findings, Rick Tocchet is the all-time leader in Gordie Howe hat tricks with 18.


Winning the Stanley Cup, the most famous sports trophy, is an honour many teams never enjoy. The players who win the Holy Grail do more than just hoist it – get ready for this. The Stanley Cup has been kicked across the Rideau Canal, showered with, applauded on The Late Show with David Letterman, raced on jet skis and snowmobiles, pampered in hot tubs and saunas, dented, stolen, lost and forgotten, while the bowl of the Cup has been used for eating cereal and ice cream, in a baby’s baptism, filled with raw clams and oysters, to burn papers, as a horse’s feedbag and accidently as a baby’s toilet. And those are just the stories that have seen the light of day, who knows what’s gone on with the Stanley Cup behind closed doors. Only in hockey.

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