South End Boy: Growing up in Halifax in the tumultuous 30s and 40s

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Creighton solved the problem by creating a "flat, circular piece of wood," the first hockey puck. After practicing for about a month, Creighton staged a public exhibition of the sport on March 3, While some praised the new sport, others decried the violence in the game. As the sport's popularity skyrocketed in Montreal in the late s, the official rules of the sport were created, the Montreal Rules, in Injured players could now be replaced, team sizes were set at seven a side down from eight and the rink's measurements were now made standard.

McGill University at which James Creighton studied law established the first university hockey team in , and the s saw an explosion of teams. The first hockey leagues formed in the mids, while the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada AHAC , which began in , was the first national hockey organization.

Stanley was taken with the game, and helped to form a team, the Rideau Rebels and a league, the Ontario Hockey Association which formed in Two years after the formation of the OHA, Stanley created the concept of a regional competition and gave a cup to be awarded to the victor, the Dominion Challenge Trophy. In , it was decided the cup would never become the property of any team and was renamed the Stanley Hockey Championship Cup. While the cup, about the size of an association football, has undergone several cosmetic changes over the years, the Stanley Cup is still awarded to the champion of the National Hockey League today.

The Manitoba Hockey Association was formed in , and first competed for the Stanley Cup four years later.

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In their first attempt at capturing the Cup, the Winnipeg team defeated their counterparts from Montreal, the first team the Cup winners didn't come from Montreal , and the reports of the victory came down in hockey's first play-by-play, done by telegraph. The Cup continued to be awarded, year after year, to teams mainly from Montreal, the hockey capital of the world.

However, the Halifax team had come west with the practice of putting up fishing nets on the back of the metal posts that served as goals. The tradition stayed, and the first goal nets were born. While the amateur athletic clubs who played organized hockey were made up of upper class men, hockey leagues and teams formed among both the middle and lower classes, often by banks or mining companies for example. Women also played early organized hockey, forming their own leagues by the turn of the century.

Its creation was spurred because the white leagues wouldn't allow black players. Early hockey, however, was also plagued by excessive violence. In two cases, one in and another in , hockey players were put on trial after blows that killed other hockey players. Both times the players were found innocent, but the press and many in the country including the juries called on legislation to be enacted that would curb the violence.

Hockey's success also led to gambling on the sport. However, despite all the money coming from the sport, almost none was going to the players.

The leagues in Canada and the U. That all changed in Jack Gibson, born in Ontario in and a hockey star there, moved to Michigan to study dentistry in Detroit shortly after the turn of the century. After setting up a practice in Houghton, Michigan, Gibson formed the Portage Lake hockey team in Gibson's team was given a new arena by local businessman James Dee, who invested a great deal of money in the team.

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The Portage Lake squad was exceptionally good, beating most opponents over the next two years. This was helped by the fact that Gibson had been recruiting Canadian stars to come play for the team, offering to pay them. The success of the two game series - called the World Championship - led Dee and Gibson to form the International Hockey League, the first professional hockey league. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. As the league experienced early success, players from Canada swarmed over the border, drawn by the prospect of being paid to play hockey. Canadian hockey finally responded with the creation of the Ontario Professional Hockey League in , which helped persuade some Canadian stars to cross back over the border.

In the other Canadian hockey leagues, players were now being paid quietly, drawing even more back to the country, and between the Canadian hockey leagues now paying their talent and a recession, the International Hockey League folded in Doran and the rest of the owners. The others owners folded the league only to start a new one, the Canadian Hockey Association, shutting out Doran.

As a result, Doran's Montreal Wanderers formed a new league of their own, the National Hockey Association, with small town teams from Haileybury, Cobalt and Renfrew, while adding a new team by forming the Montreal Canadiens, an all French-Canadian team. The biggest star of the new league and its wealthiest was Fred Taylor, who had played in the IHL before going back to Canada to play for the Ottawa Senators. At the time, that salary was more than double that of the Canadian prime minister. However, the pricey players spelled trouble for the league, and the NHA by was suffering heavily in financial terms, with small town teams Renfrew, Cobalt and Haileybury all dropping out, and two Toronto teams taking their place.

Hockey had never really caught on on the west coast of Canada, primarily because there was so little natural ice that formed. The Patricks solved this problem by building the Vancouver Arena, the world's largest artificial ice arena which had previously been Madison Square Garden in New York.

The first pro hockey game ever played west of Ontario and Michigan was in , and the Patrick brothers had made it possible by ensuring they lured players west with plenty of money, poaching many from the NHA. The Patricks had created a truly international league. In , the Portland team became the first American team to play for the Stanley Cup, losing to the Canadiens in a five-game series, and the next year, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to win the Stanley Cup.

In , the Patricks debuted numbered uniforms and allowed goalies to drop to their feet in order to make saves. The next year, they came up with the concept of zoned hockey, creating the blue lines, and allowed forward passing in those zones.

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As Canada entered the war it was still under British control, and went to war when the U. However, play went on, and new teams started to pop up - soldier teams. Units put together teams made up of their soldiers, and exhibitions were often played, some of them earning nice profits for the soldiers. That caught the attention of the NHA, who put together a team from the th battalion and made them a member of the NHA during the war. Before the war, women in Canada could neither vote nor own property; once the war began and women went to work, those things changed.

And although women had been playing hockey almost since the sport began, the war gave women's hockey a far bigger spotlight, and they flourished, with some rumors circulating that the pro men's leagues were even going to consider signing some of the top female stars. While that never came to fruition, it underlined the quality of the women's play. They would go on to win more Stanley Cup than any hockey team in history. Yet, that first victory was overshadowed by severely low attendance figures; the war hurt hockey greatly, primarily in the pocketbook.

However, when the Canadiens travelled to Seattle to play the Stanley Cup the next year, with the Metros taking the Cup, it helped revive some interest in the sport, and as the world exited from world war, hockey recovered. Ironically, however, the only Stanley Cup series ever cancelled after a full season had been played came just a year after the war ended, when, in , the series was shut down due to the flu epidemic. Though world hockey had been around for the vast majority of the 20 th century, its quality was not very high.

Stuck at the top, stuck at the bottom

Canada and the U. Though the Olympics that year were not well attended - held in Antwerp, the majority of the public could not put together enough money to attend - hockey was a huge draw, with the Canadians winning handily. In response, Livingstone transferred ownership of his team to a Toronto arena ownership group; when the Quebec Bulldogs had to shut down, the other owners allowed Toronto into the fold of their new league, the National Hockey League NHL.

The NHL, after its first season, quickly moved to become the premier professional league in hockey, naming itself pro hockey's governing body. Patricks Livingstone's old team and the Ottawa Senators. The NHL, wanting to branch out to the U. The Americans debuted at the newly built Madison Square Garden which replaced its predecessor in After two years, the new league the Western Hockey League finally folded, and the Patrick brothers sold off their two remaining teams to owners from Detroit and Chicago.

The NHL had truly taken form, and established itself as the premier pro hockey league in the world. The NHL also added more trophies to its case, awarding them each year. After the WHL folded, the Prince of Wales trophy was presented to the regular season champion, while the Stanley Cup was given to the playoff champs. Years later, in the '60s, when the league expanded, the Wales trophy would play a different role. David Hart, father of Cecil Hart, who managed the Canadiens to three Stanley Cup wins, donated a trophy to the league to be awarded to the player considered most valuable to his team.

Its first winner was Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators. Nighbor also received the first Lady Byng Trophy.

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In , Lady Byng, wife of Canada's governor general, invited Nighbor to dinner, impressed by his play. After asking Nighbor if he thought the NHL would accept the trophy to be awarded to the most gentlemanly player and Nighbor answered that he thought the NHL would , Lady Byng awarded the trophy to Nighbor. The award is still given today to the player who shows the most sportsmanship, again as chosen by the PHWA. Georges Vezina, who had played goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens for years, collapsed on the ice in the season, suffering from tuberculosis.

He died a year later. At the end of the ''27 season, Leo Dandurand, Louis Letourneau and Joe Cattarinich, owners of the Montreal Canadiens, gave the trophy to the league, awarding it to the goalie of the team with the fewest goals against it. In , the Vezina was changed, awarded instead to the goaltender considered to be the best in the league as determined by the PHWA. With that money, and by gathering other investors, Smythe bought the Toronto St. Patricks, renaming them the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Smythe also built a new arena in Toronto, vowing to win the Stanley Cup within five years. Though he had some initial success with the fans, he needed a star player as well; he found him in Frank Clancy. Clancy was a huge star in hockey, and when the cash-strapped Ottawa Senators put him up for sale, Smythe put together the money to sign him by putting his race horse, at odds, in a single race, winning the money necessary to ink Clancy.

The Great 30's Depression had hit in both Canada and the U. The Philadelphia Quakers who had been the Pittsburgh franchise suspended operations for a year in , but never returned. The Ottawa Senators did the same that year, returning for the season, but in moved to St. That franchise only lasted one season, then folded. The Montreal Maroons, who had shared hockey's capital with the Canadiens for years, went out of business in Many hockey players also left Canada and the U. The exodus that resulted from the Depression helped raise the level of play in international hockey as many of the players shared their hockey knowledge with the locals in Europe.

However, unlike before, public outcry eventually worked against them. As most of the military teams stayed at home for the early part of the war, the public thought it outrageous that hockey players essentially got deferments. The military responded by almost immediately sending the soldier teams to war. Still, many enlisted players never had to fight overseas; the Montreal Canadiens in particular largely escaped the conflict because of a loophole in the system, which allowed them to stay home if their jobs were considered essential to the war effort.

The Toronto Maple Leafs would have mostly done the same had Conn Smythe not been so devoted to the military. With the Canadiens able to stay at home, they dominated the early part of the s in hockey. This domination was helped by the addition of a young player from Montreal named Maurice Richard. The man who eventually earned the nickname "Rocket" was a scoring machine: in the Stanley Cup Finals, Rocket Richard scored five goals…in one game, including three in the first period alone known as a natural hat trick.

The next year, Richard would become the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games, a record that would stand for over 30 years. Richard would go on to be the first NHL player to record goals in a career.

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The brainchild of NY Rangers coach Frank Boucher and Boston Bruins coach Art Ross, the red line, which divides the rink in half, was put in place so players could now pass the puck out of their own zone which had previously been illegal.

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