Just like any other sport, hockey has been subjected to significant changes over time
and is usually guided by the economic forces of demand and supply. Any new initiative or
commission in the sports industry is often back-tested to ensure that the demand for this
initiative is substantial. Similarly, before hockey became professional sport, there was
evidentiary support that Hockey was in high demand and that this sport would be a massive
success. The Early Professional Hockey should be given substantial emphasis because of its
significant financial and cultural implications on Canada’s history.
Early Professional Hockey
Ice hockey, which is a refined version of ‘stick-and-ball games’, is as old is civilian.
The historical origin of ice hockey is a matter of controversy. Archaeological evidence
illustrates that ball and stick games were prevalent during 400s BCE in Greece. The game
spread and developed simultaneously with civilization 1 . The Chamiare (shinty) is regarded as
the first game to be played in Scotland. Ice hockey in Canada can be traced back to early
1800s at King’s College School, Windsor. The National Hockey League (NHL), according to
history.com, was incepted on December 19, 1917 2 . The NHL was composed of five (5)
franchises namely the Ottawa Senators, the Canadiens, and the Wanderers (both of
Montreal), the Toronto Arenas (known at the time as the Toronto Hockey Club) and the
Quebec Bulldogs. However, the 1904 international Pro Hockey League is normally regarded
1 Smith, Brandon J. "Ice Hockey Origins, Growth and Changes in the Game." The People History. Accessed July
15, 2020. http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/icehockeyhistory.html.
2 "A Brief History of Ice Hockey." Pure Hockey. September 3, 2019. Accessed July 16, 2020.
as the first professional hockey. The Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the National Hockey
Association (NHA) emerged later.
The scene for professional hockey officially changed forever in 1904 when Jack
Gibson, born in Ontario in 1880, who was a great hockey player, relocated to Michigan to
learn dentistry in Detroit in the early 1900s. He constructed a squad called the Portage Lake
hockey team in 1902. The Portage Lake hockey team was granted a novel stadium by a local
businessman James Dee, who endowed a prodigious number of funds in the team. The
Portage Lake team was remarkably talented, ousting the majority of their challengers in the
next couple of years 3 . This was set up by the circumstance that Gibson had been recruiting
and scouting Canadian stars to join and play for the team, even proposing to compensate
them. In 1904, The World Championship which was a two-game series, guided Dee and
Gibson to create the International Hockey League, the first professional hockey league 4 .
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) declared that the first organized
hockey was played in Montreal on 3 March 1875. In 1877, set rules for playing hockey were
re-modified to address logistical difficulties. The Montréal version omitted England’s
Hockey Association (HA) rules related to goal scoring, stick description, and field size. The
Canadians re-adopted the flat disc which was initially used in the mid-18 th century. There
were other essential changes made by Canadians such as reducing the number of players from
nine (9) to seven (7) 5 .
World War II had significant implications on spot and hockey was not spared. Hockey
players were killed during the war while others were intensively affected physically,
3 Martel, Jean Patrice. "Origins of Ice Hockey." The Canadian Encyclopedia. February 6, 2019. Accessed July 15,
4 "National Hockey League (NHL) Opens Its First Season." History.com. August 30, 2010. Accessed July 15, 2020.
5 Smith, Brandon J. "Ice Hockey Origins, Growth and Changes in the Game." The People History. Accessed July
15, 2020. http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/icehockeyhistory.html.
emotionally, and psychologically 6 . However, new teams composed of soldiers popped up
later. The war re-oriented social structure making it easy for women to play hockey and enjoy
other rights 7 . Women’s hockey was of high quality and this attracted significant attention
from key stakeholders. Despite the effects of the war, the Canadians travelled to participate in
the Stanley Cup series in 1919.
Significance of Hockey in Canada’s History
The sport of hockey and it’s rich history had an enormous effect on the way that
Canadians lived life financially and culturally. Several cities with hockey teams would
generate a special sense of pride among the residents of that city which they can represent. It
would give Canadians an identity
Hockey's popularity throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s skyrocketed and
subsequently, this directed to immense financial success for those in this sport such as the
owners of amateur athletic clubs. Hockey events would appeal to large crowds who would
stipend top dollar to be entertained. Exhibitions conducted during WWII earned soldiers nice
profits 8 . For instance, Conn Smythe earned approximately $ 6,706 (current, $135, 000) after
playing hockey. The financial benefits of hockey attracted the attention of NHA who
eventually created a team of hockey players from the 228 th battalion. Hockey would
historically pave the way for several Canadians to lead a great life for generations to come.
6 John Matthew Barlow, ‘Scientific Aggression: Commercialization, Class, Irishness, and Manliness in the
Shamrock Hockey Club of Montreal, 1895- 1901’, as found in John Chi-Kit Wong (ed.), Coast to Coast: Hockey
in Canada to the Second World War, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division,
7 "A Brief History of Ice Hockey." Pure Hockey. September 3, 2019. Accessed July 16, 2020.
8 John Wong, ‘Boomtown Hockey: The Vancouver Millionaires’, as found in John Chi-Kit Wong (ed.), Coast to
Coast: Hockey in Canada to the Second World War, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing
The sport of Hockey would provide an identity financially and culturally for Canadians.
Furthermore, to add to the history of this fulfilling sport of Hockey and its rich history, in
1909 there were several new professional leagues and teams created which would only
signify the demand that truly existed in this sport and its level of interest amongst Canadians.
With this interest, there were leagues created such as the Eastern Canada Hockey
Association, Canadian Hockey Association, and the National Hockey Association.
In sports, financial performance depends on the extent of attendance. Attendance
formed a critical component during the development and organization of leagues such as the
National Hockey Association and the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). The
commercialization of hockey and its leagues thereof resulted in increased efforts to improve
attendance rate. The game took a different outlook in the 1950s during to introduction of
three innovations namely television, the invention of the Zamboni, and facemask. Increased
ownership of televisions resulted in increased broadcasting of hockey games. The revolution
of television and its application in broadcasting live games increased the spectator base and
eventual financial impact on the parties involved. Smythe managed to sell three years’ worth
of games for approximately $450,000 (currently, 3 million dollars) to Imperial Oil. The
abrupt flow of finances resulted in what is known as the Panic of 1907. The 1907 bankers’
panic, Panic of 1907, or Knickerbocker crisis is three weeks of the financial crisis that
affected the United States.
The innovation of the Zamboni had a far wide impact on the Canadian’s economy.
The demand for the ice smoothing tractor (Zamboni) created by hockey games coerced
manufacturers and suppliers to tap into this new business model to fill the gap. The Zamboni
machine was used to prepare playgrounds before the onset of actual hockey games. The
invention of plastic facemask further impacted the Canadian economy positively. The
improvement in the game performance of an individual while wearing a facemask created a
demand which would channel more revenue to the country. The expansion of teams in
response to attendance increased TV programs airing hockey games and demand for essential
equipment had a significant effect on Canada’s economy and financial base.
Today, the economic activities which are directly or indirectly related to hockey game
accrue Canada approximately $11.2 billion per annum. Such economic activities include
tourism, capital investments, spectator related activities (e.g. tickets, merchandise or
souvenirs), corporate activity (marketing or sponsorship), professional players, facility
operations, federations, and participation (registration). These activities will guarantee the
country's intangible and tangible financially-related benefits.
The Canadian unceasing devotion to hockey as a national sport influenced their
attitudes, behaviour, and values. Hockey was considered as a national sport in Canada.
Canada is therefore culturally associated with Hockey. Canadians learn about the nature and
principalities of this game at their tender age through the concept of socialization. Skills and
cultural traditions for playing hockey are normally transferred from one generation to another
through socialization 9 . Hockey has, therefore, become an ideological art or work affiliating
Canadians or articulating a sense of Canada. Historically, hockey informs and is informed by
the historical interpenetration of politics, values, identities, and ideas.
Cultural implications of hockey and its significance thereof can be understood by
briefly reviewing the three historical periods; amateur hockey in Canada, professionalization,
and mediatisation, and integration of hockey into the transnational entertainment industry.
9 Gruneau, R., & Whitson, D. (1993). Hockey night in Canada: sport, identities and cultural politics. Garamond
Each period presents conjunctural complexity of cultural and social determinations regarding
hockey. Slogans such as ‘the Canadian specific’ and ‘our common origin’ reflect the cultural
implications of this game. The development and growth of the modern communication
industry facilitated the denotation of hockey as a collective national identity.
Aspiring Canadian hockey players tend to learn about the sacrifices, values, and
attitudes associated with this sport at an early age. They are socialized on the importance of
been tough, developing polished technical skills, and playing with an injury (e.g. pain,
bruises, or broken teeth). Individuals are normally forced to sacrifice their family life in
pursuit of the game. Hockey has been culturally institutionalized in Canadian society to
reinforce and perpetuate the prestigious stature of the successful players. The commercial
influence perpetuated by the NHL reformed significantly Canadian amateur hockey making it
possible for an individual to develop a different mind-set that this is a serious work-like
enterprise. A universal draft system was specifically designed to oversee the transition of
players from one level to another during their life span.
The value of success, according to Canadian society, is therefore interplay of
perceived vigorously competitive quality. Hockey plays easily internalized this value of
success forming bases an orientation to a major professional career such as hockey player.
The Canadian amateur hockey players attain a commercialized orientation as soon as they
start learning or practicing the game. They become acquainted with the rules of the game and
future implications on a personal level. They develop a specific culture that rhymes with the
national identity and overall expectations of Canadian society.
Media Coverage and Hockey
An analysis of professional hockey and amateur in Canada helps in understanding the
relationship between mass media, sport, and popular culture. The coverage of the Stanley
Cup challenge games by the Canadian newspaper facilities interpretation of cultural
meanings associated with hockey in Canadian society. The championship games attracted
different participants and Canada’s top hockey teams. In their endeavours to cover the
Stanley Cup activities, newspapers created various narratives of manhood, regional rivalry,
hockey, and civic identity 10 . The matches ignited public discussion about such issues and the
functionality of hockey in creating a vigorous Canadian nation. The hockey played a critical
role by acting as symbols of community spirit and civic pride.
The redefinition of Canada’s national popular culture was facilitated by the media
coverage, especially during the Stanley Cup series. A newspaper was used as a focal point for
articulating issues and developments in the world of sport. The emergence of television
became the principle means by which people used to learn about the sport, interpret, and
derive sense out of sports activity 11 . Media was therefore at the forefront in instilling a sense
of civic pride. Media coverage created a connection and community of followers and fans of
sports. A unified world of sports embraced both professional and amateur sports inclusive of
athletes, leagues, and teams.
Early professional hockey was associated with the social significance of
commercialized leisure, mass culture, and the world of sport. There was an increasing interest
in hockey games and socio-cultural history fostered by media coverage of major game
matches. Canadian sports history has been influenced by major social relations 12 . The specific
identities associated with hockey reflect extensively the Canadian culture and society at large.
10 Mason, Daniel S., and Gregory H. Duquette. "Newspaper Coverage of Early Professional Ice Hockey: The
Discourses of Class and Control." Taylor & Francis. January 23, 2007. Accessed July 15, 2020.
12 Lorenz, S. L. (2015). Media, culture, and the meanings of hockey. The International Journal of the History of
Sport, 32(17), 1973-1986.
Based on this discussion, it can be deduced that the boom of this sport created a culture to
Canadians that could shape its future in the long run.
The Early Professional Hockey deserves substantial focus because of its significant
financial and cultural implications on Canada’s history. Ice hockey has a rich and
controversial history. Professionally, the match conducted on 3 March 1875 in Montreal is
normally regarded as the first one in history. Early Professional Hockey is associated with
cultural and financial significance in Canada’s history. For instance, the boom created the
Knickerbocker Crisis in 1907, the improved the financial status of players and other
significant stakeholders, and impacted the Canadian economy positively.
"A Brief History of Ice Hockey." Pure Hockey. September 3, 2019. Accessed July 16, 2020.
"National Hockey League (NHL) Opens Its First Season." History.com. August 30, 2010.
Accessed July 15, 2020. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/national-
Gruneau, R., & Whitson, D. (1993). Hockey night in Canada: sport, identities and cultural
politics. Garamond Press.
John Matthew Barlow, ‘Scientific Aggression: Commercialization, Class, Irishness, and
Manliness in the Shamrock Hockey Club of Montreal, 1895- 1901’, as found in John
Chi-Kit Wong (ed.), Coast to Coast: Hockey in Canada to the Second World War,
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2009).
John Wong, ‘Boomtown Hockey: The Vancouver Millionaires’, as found in John Chi-Kit
Wong (ed.), Coast to Coast: Hockey in Canada to the Second World War, (Toronto:
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2009).
Lorenz, S. L. (2015). Media, culture, and the meanings of hockey. The International Journal
of the History of Sport, 32(17), 1973-1986.
Martel, Jean Patrice. "Origins of Ice Hockey." The Canadian Encyclopedia. February 6, 2019.
Accessed July 15, 2020. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/origins-
Mason, Daniel S., and Gregory H. Duquette. "Newspaper Coverage of Early Professional Ice
Hockey: The Discourses of Class and Control." Taylor & Francis. January 23, 2007.
Accessed July 15, 2020.
Smith, Brandon J. "Ice Hockey Origins, Growth and Changes in the Game." The People
History. Accessed July 15, 2020.