Ice Hockey Goes Indoors – Montreal 1875


1893 – Indoor Hockey Game – Victoria Skaking Rink. Montreal Canada

With the National Hockey League  now scheduling a nostalgic Winter Classic out-door hockey game annually on New Years Day, it seems appropriate to take a look at when and how hockey went “in-doors.” Not surprisingly, the modern game of hockey found life and roots in Montreal, Canada. In 1994 Canada’s parliament finally passed a law making ice hockey (indoors or out) the official winter sport of Canada.

On this day – March 3, 1875 – indoor ice hockey makes its public debut in Montreal, Quebec. After weeks of training at the Victoria Skating Rink with his friends, Montreal resident James Creighton advertised in the March 3 edition of the Montreal Gazette that “A game of hockey will be played in the Victoria Skating Rink this evening between two nines chosen from among the members.” Prior to the move indoors, ice hockey was a casual outdoor game, with no set dimensions for the ice and no rules regarding the number of players per side. The Victoria Skating Rink was snug, so Creighton limited the teams to nine players each.

…ice skating was popularized by skating on sharpened animal shinbones in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, and games played on ice included a Dutch version of golf and an on-ice version of hurling, an Irish stick-and-ball game. Ice hockey was initially thought too dangerous a game to play, as the ball was difficult to control on the ice. For the 1875 Montreal game, the ball was replaced with a wooden disc, now known as a puck. The disc was less likely to fly off the ice, and was less dangerous to both players and spectators. Creighton also instituted an early off-sides rule, mandating that there be no forward passing ahead of the player with the puck. The Montreal Gazette reported the next day that the first ice hockey game at Victoria Skating Rink attracted 40 spectators. Ice hockey then caught fire in Montreal, and in 1877 Creighton published rules to the game, known as Montreal Rules. Canada’s now legendary national passion for ice hockey was ignited, and the new sport began to spread across the country. (My bolds)

Hockey is a popular sport at all levels today –  from the local Mini Mites and PeeWees to high school, college and  Olympic and of course – the NHL  professionals. Local fact:  

One of the very first indoor sports facilities ever built for ice hockey, the Boston Arena built in 1910, is still in existence today, on the grounds of Boston’s Northeastern University, and is still used for ice hockey in the 21st century.

Sources: This Day in History – The History Channel; Wikipedia etc.