A Brief History of Hockey’s Home

This THW Archive piece was initially printed in Dec. 2012.

And the music from the skating rink drifts throughout the city …

All internationally, the ice rink has turn into a house away from dwelling for scores of hockey gamers and followers. From the sushi-serving confines of the Air Canada Centre in Toronto to the frozen metallic bleachers of your native area, in addition to the big selection of out of doors areas in between, ice rinks are a spot the place the sport might be realized, considered and cherished by of us of all ages and backgrounds.

They’re a reminder that each one you really want is a patch of ice, a stick, a puck and a web to benefit from the recreation all of us love a lot.

The Early Ice Rink

The idea of skating is claimed so far again some 3000 years, and is believed to have originated in Finland. It was the Dutch who got here up with the thought of including edges to ice skates within the thirteenth or 14th century; these skates have been made of metal, with sharpened edges on the underside, a primary development that has stayed largely the identical since then. The Dutch made use of skates on their intensive system of canals and waterways, and the exercise was identified to be loved and utilized by many throughout Europe.

ice rink for hockey
First Indoor Hockey Game Played in 1875 (THW Archives)

While the idea of the ice rink has turn into synonymous with the sport of hockey, it was first related to one other winter sport. Scottish in origin, ‘rink‘ literally means ‘course‘, and it was used to describe the area where the game of curling was played. In the early days, ice rinks were natural in composition, meaning that a frozen body of water was used to host the games, and it wasn’t till a lot afterward that cooling expertise was developed to create synthetic and indoor ice rinks.

First Indoor Hockey Ice Rink

Variations of each curling and hockey had been performed for a lot of generations previous to the naming of the taking part in space, however the origins of the fashionable, indoor ice rink might be traced again to Montreal, the place the first organized indoor game was performed on the Victoria Skating Rink in 1875. While the floor dimensions of the rink have been principally what you’d discover at an NHL rink immediately ( 85 ft × 200 ft or 26 m × 61 m), the organizers of that first recreation made the clever resolution to make use of a puck as a substitute of a ball with the intention to defend spectators from flying objects in lieu of the now conventional boards. Located in central Montreal, it was dwelling to the Montreal Winter Carnivals of the nineteenth century, and was additionally the placement of the primary Stanley Cup playoff video games in 1894. The Victoria Skating Rink was offered in 1925, and immediately the positioning is dwelling to a parking storage.

Victoria Skating RInk
1870 skating carnival in Victoria Rink (Wikipedia)

The early twentieth century noticed the daybreak of skilled hockey and the opening of a number of new ice rinks round North America, most notably the Mutual Street Arena in Toronto (1917–1931), the Montreal Arena (1911–1918), and the Aberdeen Pavilion in Ottawa, which stays one of the oldest surviving indoor ice hockey venues on this planet (regardless of not having hosted a recreation for a number of years).

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The most well-known of the early ice rinks that hosted skilled hockey groups belonged to the “Original 6”: the primary Madison Square Garden in New York (1926–1968), the Boston Garden (1928–1995), the Montreal Forum (1926–1996), Maple Leaf Gardens (1931–1999), Chicago Stadium (1929–1994) and the Olympia in Detroit (1927–1979). While these historical cathedrals of hockey are with us no extra, they have been locations of pilgrimage for a lot of hockey followers through the years, and their reminiscences reside on regardless of having been razed or became grocery shops.

The Ice Rink Today

Ice Skating on the Rideau Canal
Skating on the Rideau Canal (Eric Titcombe / Flickr)

At current, there are 30 ice rinks unfold throughout North America that NHL groups name dwelling. The oldest such constructing is the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (1972), adopted by Rexall Place in Edmonton (1974) and Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (1979). Most NHL groups have rinks that have been constructed within the Nineties or 2000s, the latest of which might be present in Pittsburgh (Consol Energy Center – 2010) Newark (Prudential Center – 2007) and in Winnipeg (MTS Centre – 2004). That area in Winnipeg can also be the NHL’s smallest, with a most capability of 15,004; the largest rink might be present in Chicago, with a United Center that boasts a most capability of 22,428.

Europe has its fair proportion of hockey rinks as properly, most notably the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, the O2 Arena in Prague, the Megasport Arena in Moscow and the PostFinance-Arena in Bern.

But with the arrival of the lavish indoor area comes sure mythology behind the out of doors variations, and folks all around the world flock to them to take pleasure in an open-air skate or a recreation of shinny. Winnipeg and Ottawa are privy to 2 of the world’s greatest and most well-known out of doors ice rinks: the Red River Trail and the Rideau Canal Skateway, each of which are a magnet for 1000’s because the climate permits.

The NHL Returns to the Outdoor Ice Rink

Hockey followers have additionally gone wild over the thought of out of doors hockey video games lately, as evidenced within the reputation of the Heritage and Winter Classics. Rinks have been arrange in soccer and baseball stadiums, and have been filled with followers desperate to recapture that pond hockey nostalgia.

While the Big House version of the Winter Classic was postponed as a result of 2012 NHL lockout, an outside recreation this previous fall offered maybe the last word backdrop, an ice rink which will by no means be topped. On Friday, Sept. 14, and Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, the Austrian-based Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (EBEL) held an occasion referred to as “Arena Ice Fever — Pula MMXII,” which featured a pair of video games on the Pula Arena, an almost 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheater.

Winter Classic Coverage
The scene on the 2011 Winter Classic Alumni Game (JJohnson/THW)

The two video games have been the primary identified group sports activities occasions held on the historical venue, and the primary ice hockey video games in historical past to be held in an amphitheater setting. The dwelling group for each video games was KHL Medvescak Zagreb (the Zagreb Bears), a Croatian-based EBEL group. The visiting group for the primary recreation was the EC Vienna Capitals, whereas Olimpija Ljubljana from Slovenia provided the opposition in the second match.

Whatever the setting, there definitely is a few romanticism concerned when the subject of the ice rink pops up, and lots of a music and poem has been written on that very subject. Prior to the 2003 Heritage Classic at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium (the primary regular-season NHL recreation to be performed open air), the CBC aired this tribute to the ice rink by Canadian songwriter David Francey, who, in a full-circle second, hails from the nation of Scotland, the place the rink first acquired its identify.

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