From cow poop and live mascots to broken teeth and Cup snacks—the world of hockey is as interesting as the sport itself.
To give you a better idea of how the game developed through the ages and how popular it is across the world today, we rounded up the most fascinating facts about hockey.
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Hockey history facts
1. The true origins of hockey are still uncertain.
Stick and ball games have been around since civilisation started, so we may never know where hockey really originated from. However, based on Egyptian carvings, the game can be traced back 4,000 years in the past, while history shows that similar games were played in Ancient Greece, China, Rome and Ireland. There is even evidence to suggest that the Aztecs played the game centuries before Columbus sailed to the Americas.
2. The first hockey rules were implemented in 1875.
Until then, as hockey facts and history show, the game was quite chaotic and violent. Hockey was commonly played in 17th and 18th-century English villages where whole hamlets would compete in a fierce match that often involved 100 people. The first rules of hockey, which limited the game to 30 players and gave more authority to the umpire, were drafted by the Hockey Association that was formed in the UK in 1876.
3. The first indoor ice hockey game was played in Montreal.
Ice hockey as we know it today originated in Canada. In fact, the first organised hockey game was played at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal on March 3, 1875. The teams had nine players each, with the majority of the participants being McGill University students. The match was organised by Canadian J.G.Creighton, who laid down most of the rules of modern ice hockey.
4. Ice hockey was actually introduced at the Summer Olympics.
Interestingly, tournaments in ice hockey, facts and history about the sport reveal, were first introduced at the Summer Olympics in 1920 but moved to the Winter Olympics program in 1924. The first women’s tournament was played at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.
Interesting Stats and Facts About Hockey
5. There are 82 ice hockey games in a regular season.
A regular season in the NHL, which typically starts in October and ends in April, sees 82 games. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020/2021 season consisted of only 56 games.
Based on the latest data from the NHL, the 2021/2022 season, set to start in October 2021, will feature the regular 82 games, but the league will be expanded to 32 teams instead of the usual 31. The Seattle Kraken will be the latest addition to the NHL.
6. The NLH made $4,37 billion in revenue from the 2019/2020 season.
The average revenue per team, on the other hand, amounted to $140.9 million for the same season. The majority of NHL’s revenue comes from television and media rights, whereas the second biggest revenue stream is generated from home games. In fact, it is reported that over a third (36.6%) of the NHL’s revenue for a season comes from attendance at games.
7. An average of 17,456 people go to a hockey game in the US.
Based on 2018/2019 stats and NHL hockey facts, the average attendance at regular season games stood at 17,456. However, as the 2019/2020 season was cut short due to Covid-19 restrictions, the number of people going to games reduced as well. Thus, average attendance fell to 17,423, while total attendance declined from 22.19 million to 18.81 million.
When it comes to teams, the Chicago Blackhawks have the highest average attendance per game—21,441.
8. The NHL has the lowest attendance of the five major North American sports.
Compared to other sports, hockey is actually at the bottom in terms of average per game attendance. In this category, football takes the lead with an average of 66,479, followed by America’s national pastime—baseball (28,317) and Major League Soccer (21,310).
9. The average cost of an NHL ticket is $98.17—the second-highest on the market.
Supporting your favourite hockey team during a live match doesn’t come cheap. Tickets in the NHL are the second most expensive on the market, preceded by NFL tickets at $121.76. However, the NFL has just eight regular-season home games, whereas the NHL has 41, meaning that when added up, season hockey tickets are much more expensive.
10. NBC’s last season with the NHL achieved an average TAD of 391,000 viewers.
The average total audience delivery from the latest NHL season reached 391,000 viewers on NBC and NBCSN. This is the lowest TAD on record since the partnership between NBC and NHL started ten years ago. The highest viewership, on the other hand, was noted in the 2012/2013 season, i.e. an average of 590,000 viewers.
Judging by the latest stats and facts about hockey, the opening game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, watched by an average of 1.73 million people, was the most popular of the 2020/2021 season.
11. The NHL is big on social media.
The League account of the NHL has 6.3 million followers on Twitter and 4.64 million on Facebook. The Chicago Blackhawks are the most popular on both platforms, with 2.4 Twitter fans and 2.76 million Facebook followers.
12. The New York Rangers are the most valuable franchise team in the NHL.
Valued at $1.6 billion, the New York Rangers are the biggest franchise in the League. Next in line are the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, valued at $1.5 and $1.3 billion, respectively. According to Statista, the average value of an NHL franchise is around $635 million.
13. The NHL will start two new partnerships in the next season.
Following the end of the ten-year contract with NBC, NHL awarded broadcasting rights to ESPN and Turner Sports for the upcoming seven-year cycle. The NHL also announced that they are partnering up with Betway, making this the brand’s first deal with a professional sports league in the US and Canada.
14. The NHL holds outdoor games as well.
Fun facts about ice hockey tell us that not all games are held in the arena. The first outdoor ice hockey game took place in 2003, but this practice grew into a tradition in 2008. Since then, the National Hockey League has held at least one outdoor game a year.
For the League’s 100 birthday, the NHL held two outdoor matches: one on January 1 between Detroit and Toronto and another on December 16 between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens. The latter was a rematch of one of the first games ever played in the League—the December 19, 1917 game, which matched the Canadiens and the original Ottawa Senators.
15. The record for most shots in an ice hockey game is 92.
This record was set by the Montreal Maroons in their 1936 game against the Detroit Red Wings. However, since this match took place before the NHL started keeping track of shots on net, the official record for most shots in a game (88) is held by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team managed to set the record in 2020 when they played against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
On the other hand, figures and facts about hockey reveal the record for most goals scored during a single match is held by the Montreal Canadiens in their 16-3 win against the Quebec Bulldogs in 1920.
16. Canada has won the most gold medals in hockey at the Olympics.
The fact that Canada outshines other countries when it comes to Olympic gold medals in hockey is no surprise. After all, ice hockey has been the nation’s official winter sport since 1994.
Facts about Canadian hockey show that the country has won 9 gold medals in men’s hockey and four in the women’s tournaments, bringing the total to 13. The Soviet Union is ranked second with seven gold medals (all in men’s hockey), whereas the US is in third place with four gold and 11 silver medals.
17. The game for the gold medal at the 2010 Olympics was the most-watched television broadcast in Canada.
The match between Canada and the USA in 2010 was one of the most spectacular moments in hockey history. An estimated 16.6 million Canadians, or half of the country’s population at the time, watched the entire game.
Fun Hockey Facts for Kids
18. There is only one time-out in an ice hockey game.
During a hockey game, each side is allowed only one timeout of 30 seconds. Accordingly, the players and coaches must use the brief half a minute to make game-changing choices.
Unlike the NBA and NFL, in ice hockey, the timeout must be used during a normal stoppage in play, so NHL players lose the benefit of having the clock stop during a timeout.
19. A hockey team was named after a Disney movie.
The Anaheim Ducks from California were named after the popular 1992 Disney movie The Mighty Ducks, in which an ice hockey team of young players makes it through difficult situations to win the game. The team, which was owned by Disney, was initially named the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim; however, after it was sold in 2005, the name was shortened to the Anaheim Ducks.
20. Fans of the Detroit Red Wings often throw octopuses onto the ice at games.
This weird custom, facts about hockey reveal, started in 1952 when two brothers and fish store owners, Pete and Jerry Cusimano, threw an octopus onto the rink for good luck. At the time, an NHL team required eight wins to get the Stanley Cup and the octopus, with its eight tentacles, perfectly symbolised the needed wins. Sure enough, the Red Wings won the game, starting a tradition that has lasted to this very day.
21. Hockey is one of the most fast-paced sports.
Not only is hockey a thrilling and dynamic game, but it also features incredibly fast players who make even faster shots. In fact, in ice hockey, players blast shots that can go 100 miles per hour or even more. Currently, Zdeno Chara holds the NHL record for the fastest shot with 175.1 km/h.
22. The most common shot in hockey is the wrist shot.
ApproThe most accurate of the five shots in ice hockey and the first one taught to kids is the wrist shot. Some of the players best known for their wrist shots include Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin, Quebec Nordiques’ former MVP Joe Sakic, and the great Wayne Gretzky.
Facts About Hockey Players
23. Bob Orr was the first hockey player to sign a million-dollar contract.
Orr, already the highest-paid hockey player at the time, made history when he signed a contract with the Boston Bruins for a total of one million dollars. Even though the contract paid $200,000 spread over five years, plus endorsements, it was still the first seven-figure deal in the League.
Technically, the first million-dollar contract was signed by Bobby Hull, who received the money in 1972 as part of a ten-year $2.75 million deal.
24. Wayne Gretzky is the all-time leading scorer with 61 NHL records.
When he retired in 1999, the Great One had 61 NHL records, 40 regular-season records, 6 All-star records and 15 playoff records. No wonder he has been called the best hockey player of all time by the media, professional coaches and the NHL itself.
25. At 160 cm, Roy Woters was the shortest player in the NHL.
Nicknamed “Shrimp”, Woters was a goalkeeper in the 1920s and 30s. Despite his height, he was a very successful player, appearing in 484 games and getting a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. By contrast, Zdeno Chara was the tallest player. Standing at 205.7 cm tall, facts about hockey reveal that Big Zed also has the fastest slapshot in the League. He has won the NHL’s hardest shot competition five times, while his blast of 108.8 mph at the 2012 All-Star Skills Competition is yet to be defeated.
26. Two NHL players were traded for one dollar.
The first trade happened in 1990 between the New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres and involved right winger Ray Sheppard. Despite the fact that the Rangers got Sheppard for one dollar, he had a reasonably successful career, scoring 24 goals and 47 points in 59 games before moving to Detroit.
The second trade-off took place three years later when the Detroit Red Wings got Kris Draper for one dollar. Draper, however, went on to be one of the team’s best players, helping Detroit win the Stanley Cup four times.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews was the highest-paid in the latest NHL season.
Making a total of $16 million from salary and endorsements, Auston Matthews was the highest-paid player in the 2020/2021 season. His team, the Toronto Maple Leafs also spends the most on player expenses—in 2019/2020 alone, they allocated a whopping $99 million on salaries for players. Statistics and facts about NHL hockey show that teams spend an average of $77.42 million in a season just for players salaries.
28. Only 43 players have scored five or more goals during a single ice hockey game.
Scoring five or more goals during an NHL game is a great accomplishment that has been achieved a total of 59 times in the history of the League. Actually, only one player, Joe Malone, managed to score a record of seven goals in a single game. Other stats and facts about ice hockey show that Malone was also the first player to score at least five goals in a game, while the most recent player to accomplish this feat was New York Rangers player Mika Zibanejad in 2020.
Facts About Hockey Pucks
29. Some of the earliest hockey pucks were made from cow dung.
In the early days of hockey, players would use frozen cow dung patties as a puck. Sometimes stones or wood pieces would be used. Later, pucks were made of cut-up rubber balls or tire rubber, but these were short-lived because they kept splitting in two.
The modern-day hockey puck is made of vulcanised rubber. It has a diameter of three inches (7.2 cm) and is about 5.5 ounces heavy.
One of the fun facts about ice hockey pucks is that they are frozen before the game to prevent them from bouncing during play. Another fun fact: hockey pucks are only made in four countries: Canada, Russia, the Chezch Republic and China.
30. The hockey puck celebrates its birthday on February 7th.
The hockey puck has been present in the game practically from its inception. The word puck, on the other hand, was not. This word was introduced for the first time on February 7, 1876, in the Montreal Gazette. Thus, the NHL considers this date to be the hockey puck’s birthday.
31. Around twelve pucks are utilised in a single hockey game.
This is because the pre-frozen hockey pucks melt quickly and must be replaced throughout the match. Although twelve is the average number of pucks used in a game, matches with as many as 22 have been played. There are also games where only one puck was used—the last match was in 1979, and the puck from the game proudly sits on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Facts About Hockey Sticks
32. Hockey sticks date back to the 1830s.
The oldest hockey stick is traced back to the mid-1830s. It was made from sugar maple wood by William “Dilly” Moffatt. However, there is evidence to suggest that the first stick was actually made by the Mi’kmaq people of Nova Scotia who are believed to have played hockey as early as the start of the 19th century.
The Mi’kmaq people started producing hockey sticks commercially in the mid 19th century. Their Mic-Mac stick, sold by the Starr Manufacturing Company, was the best-selling hockey stick in Canada throughout the first decade of the 20th century.
33. Carbon fibre is the most commonly used material for hockey sticks.
Carbon fibre is the most common material used for the manufacturing of hockey sticks. This material is considered ideal due to its light weight and good mechanical features. Other materials used for hockey sticks include fibreglass, wood and aluminium.
34. Back in the day, hockey sticks were not curved.
Hockey sticks were flat for at least 130 years before the curved blade was introduced. Legend has it that it was Chicago Blackhawks player Stan Mikita who first came up with the curved blade. According to interesting facts about hockey sticks history, Mikita started experimenting with bent blades along with his teammate Bobby Hull. The duo started using these “banana blades” in games, and the results were more than impressive.
Mikita, widely recognised as one of the best offence-defence players ever, scored 541 goals during his career. Hull, on the other hand, scored a total of 610 goals in the NHL and 303 in the World Hockey Association.
Facts and Stats on the Stanley Cup
35. The Stanley Cup was first awarded in 1893.
The Stanley Cup was commissioned in 1892 and awarded a year later to the Montreal Hockey Club. It was actually named after the Canadian Governor-General, Lord Stanley of Preston, who donated the trophy to the country’s best amateur hockey club.
The Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy given to the winner of a professional sports franchise in the US and Canada and one of the most important championships in the world of hockey.
From hockey facts and history, we learn that the Stanley Cup has been presented to the NHL’s playoff champion every year since the 1914-15 season. The only two exceptions occurred during the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1919 and during the 2005 NHL lockout.
36. 15 women have had their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.
The first woman to get her name engraved on the famous Stanley Cup was Marguerite Norris in 1955 as the President of the Detroit Red Wings. The most recent woman to receive this honour was Colorado Avalanche’s Senior Director of Hockey Administration, Charlotte Grahame, whose name was added in 2001. Her son also had his name engraved on the trophy in 2004 when he won the Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
37. The Stanley Cup has served multiple purposes.
Over the years, some strange things have been done to the Stanley Cup.
Mario Lemieux threw it in a pool, while Guy Carbonneau from the Dallas Stars threw it off a balcony. More fun facts about hockey show that Maurice “Rocket” Richard tried to drink from it, chipping a tooth, and Sylvain Lefebvre baptised his daughter in it. The Stanley Cup even travelled all over the world, from Europe to Russia and Japan.
As well as a trophy, the Stanley Cup regularly serves as an eating bowl. Thus, players have used the trophy to drink champagne and eat anything from M&Ms, ice cream, chicken wings and meatballs as part of their celebrations.
38. The Montreal Canadiens have the highest number of Stanley Cup titles.
One of the oldest teams in the world of hockey, the Montreal Canadiens have more Stanley Cup wins than any other team. The Canadiens have won the Cup 24 times, including five times in a row between 1956 and 1960. Their biggest competition, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have the second-highest number of wins—a total of 13.
Hockey is an incredibly dynamic sport, both for those who play it, the fans that follow it and the punters who love to place bets on this fast-paced game. But as the stats and facts about hockey above show, it is also a sport with a long history, quirky traditions and committed players that is guaranteed to win the hearts of sports fans everywhere for many years to come.