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Hockey History: The Time Line, 1917-1945

A brief ice hockey history. Part one: From the first games to the Original Six.


February 1936: The Canadian ice hockey team at the 1936 Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Canada won silver in the ice hockey tournament.
General Photographic Agency / Getty Images
Early to mid-1800s:
Ice hockey as we know it is first played in either Windsor, Nova Scotia, Kingston, Ontario or Montreal, Quebec, depending on who you believe and how you read the evidence.

The first known rules are published by the Montreal Gazette.

The Amateur Hockey Association of Canada is formed, with four teams in Montreal, one in Ottawa and one in Quebec City.

1889 or 1892:
The first women's hockey game is played in Ottawa or Barrie, Ontario.

Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston and Governor-General of Canada, donates a trophy to be called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. It will be known more commonly as the Stanley Cup. The first winning team is from the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, champions of the AHAC.

The first artificial ice rink is opened in Baltimore.

College athletes from the United States and Canada play the first international series of matches, with the Canadians winning all four games. College and club teams in the Eastern U.S. soon take up the game.

The Winnipeg Victorias become the first team from Western Canada to win the Stanley Cup.

Late 1800s and early 1900s:
North American ice hockey appears in European countries, taking its place alongside similar games such as bandy.

The goal net is introduced.

Five teams in the United States and Ontario form the International Hockey League, the first league of professional teams. It last three seasons.

The Montreal Canadiens play their first game after joining a new league called the National Hockey Association.

Teams in Western Canada form the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. The league introduces several innovations: Blue lines are added to divide the ice into three zones, goaltenders are permitted to fall to the ice to make saves and forward passing is allowed in the neutral zone.

The 60 minute game is divided into three 20 minute periods.

The number of players allowed on the ice is reduced from seven to six per team.

The Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association win Toronto's first Stanley Cup.

The Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA become the first American-based team to win the Stanley Cup, after the Cup's trustees rule that teams outside Canada can compete for the trophy.

Four NHA teams reorganize to form the National Hockey League. A new team, the Toronto Arenas, wins the first NHL championship, going on to defeat Vancouver of the PCHA for the 1918 Stanley Cup. The Arenas will become the St. Patricks in 1919 and the Maple Leafs in 1927.

An ice hockey tournament is played at the Summer Olympics. It will later be declared the first World Ice Hockey Championship. Canada wins.

Foster Hewitt calls the first hockey broadcast for radio, an intermediate game between teams from Kitchener and Toronto.

The Boston Bruins defeat the Montreal Maroons 2-1 in the first NHL game played in the United States.

The NHL increases the regular season schedule from 24 to 30 games. Players on the first place Hamilton Tigers refuse to compete in the 1925 playoffs unless they are paid for the extra games played. The players are suspended and the team is subsequently sold to become the New York Americans.

Ice hockey debuts at the Winter Olympics, with Canada winning the gold medal.

The New York Rangers, Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Cougars (later renamed the Red Wings) join the NHL.

The Western Hockey League disbands and sells most of its players to the new NHL teams, leaving the NHL as the undisputed top hockey league in North America.

The first offside rule is introduced.

Ralph Bowman of the St. Louis Eagles scores the first penalty shot goal.

The New York Americans defeat Toronto 3-2 in the first game to be broadcast coast-to-coast in Canada.

Great Britain wins the Olympic gold medal, marking Canada's first significant loss in international ice hockey.

The first rule to deal with icing is introduced.

The Brooklyn Americans withdraw from the NHL. For the next 25 years the league will be comprised of the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Bruins, Rangers and Black Hawks, now known as "the Original Six."

The NHL season begins in October for the first time.

Next Pages -
Hockey Timeline, Part Two:
The Richard Riot, the Zamboni, the Miracle on Ice
Part Three:
The Russian Arrival, the Women's Game, the Lockout

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