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06-14-2005, 10:10 PM
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Kritter471
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This is the section on the history of American ice hockey in non-traditional markets (a.k.a., the southern and western portions of the United States) that I'm writing for a college class. It's so much more information than you asked for and not cited, but I can give you my references if you question where I found the information.

"One cannot under understand the history of American ice hockey in non-traditional cities without knowing the basics of ice hockey history. Most historians agree that ice hockey originated in the chilly northern regions of Great Britain and France as a winter version of the popular game of field hockey. The first independent sport to resemble ice hockey was a Dutch game known as kolven, which can be traced back to the 17th century. A similar also became popular among the English under the name bandy in the 1820s, which eventually became known as hockey. The name probably came from the French word hoquet, which means “shepherd’s crook” or “bent stick,” and referred to the bent shape of a traditional hockey stick. The game itself has changed very little in the overall concept and goals, although many of the rule variations have changes over time. The rudimentary game was brought with both the British and French settlers to Canada in the mid-1800s and even found its way into the United States. Early paintings that show ice hockey being played are not only from Nova Scotia, but from the state of Virginia as well. Nevertheless, the winter climate north of the 49th parallel proved the ideal location for ice hockey to develop first as an outdoor sport and finally as an indoor competition.

Of course, this history is fraught with controversy, as residents of Nova Scotia claim hockey was created from an Irish game called hurley in the early 1800s at King’s College School in Windsor, Nova Scotia. According to many Canadians, author Thomas Chandler Haliburton wrote of students playing hurley on ice at the age of four. In this version of ice hockey history, the game was brought to ports around Halifax and along the edge of the Great Lakes by soldiers, who always sent back to Nova Scotia for the latest equipment and rule changes made by their schoolboy comrades. This version of the events does not account for the work “hockey,” though one would assume it would still come from the French word hoquet, although this time the name would come from the French-speaking Quebecois rather than the French themselves. Several other versions of how hockey was created exist in Canada, but most experts agree that it was either an import from Europe or some sort of meshing between the French/English game of bandy and the Canadian version of ice hurley that led to a sport recognizable as modern ice hockey.

The first indoor game was played in Montreal, Canada in 1875, prompting the Quebecois to declare the city the birthplace of hockey. In 1877, seven McGill University students created the first seven organized rules for ice hockey. The first hockey league in North America, a four-team venture, was launched in Kingston, Ontario in 1885 and smaller leagues quickly developed in all the major Canadian cities of the time, with some extending into the northern United States such as Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota. And in 1892, Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada donated a silver bowl purchased from a London silversmith to two trustees, giving them specific instructions on how to conduct a tournament in order to award the trophy to the best amateur hockey team in Canada. The Montreal AAA of the American Hockey Association were the first team awarded the trophy as the champions of amateur hockey from 1892-1893.

The Stanley Cup continued to be awarded to the Canadian amateur hockey champion until 1908, and in the meantime, the first professional hockey league was being developed. That league was the International Pro Hockey League, founded in 1904 around the rim of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. That league only lasted until 1907, but in 1909, a second league was formed – the National Hockey Association, a league made up of professional Canadian teams who competed for the Stanley Cup. And in 1911, a second professional league, the Pacific Coast Hockey League, came along. Originally consisting of three teams from western Canada, the PCHL incorporated the first three American professional hockey teams during its 13-year existence – the Portland Rosebuds (1914-1918), the Seattle Metropolitans (1915-1924) and the Spokane Canaries (1917-1918). The Rosebuds became the first team to compete for the Stanley Cup in 1916. The next year, the Metropolitans became the first American team to capture the Cup. The PCHL dissolved in pieces, with two teams migrating to the Western Canada Hockey League. Two teams from the WCHL eventually ended up in the United States, as their version of the Portland Rosebuds became the Chicago Blackhawks while the Victoria Cougars were reincarnated as the Detroit Red Wings, both in the newly formed National Hockey League. Both teams are still in existence, but the paths of each have taken a very divergent turn recently. The Blackhawks are controlled by a notoriously miser-like owner who refuses to compete for players within the current economic system and even employs a National Football League-style television blackout rule, wherein the Blackhawks are not shown on local television unless their arena is sold out. These hard-line tactics have alienated the fans of the Blackhawks to the point that a once dominant franchise now struggles to draw fans. Conversely, the recent success of the Detroit Red Wings has alleviated the financial and attendance struggles of the 1980s, and local fans and national media have dubbed the city “Hockeytown.”

The National Hockey League was founded in 1917 with five Canadian teams that had formerly played in the NHA. In 1924, the NHL added the Boston Bruins to its slate of teams, the first American franchise in the league. The Bruins were an expansion franchise and, although they met with very little success on the ice, they drew very well, to the delight of their owner, Boston grocer magnate Charles Adams. They won their first Stanley Cup only five years later, defeating the New York Rangers. The Rangers were part of a large American expansion in the new league which included the Rangers (1926-present), Blackhawks (1926-present), Red Wings (1926-present) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1925-1931). Four of these American teams (Chicago, Boston, Detroit and New York), along with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, survived the growing pains of the young league through the 1930s and 1940s and formed the so-called Original Six franchises in 1943 that would comprise the National Hockey League until 1967. These teams became intimately involved in the framework of their city, much like the early baseball teams, as cities attempted to establish a civic pride and superiority. The Canadiens were the league’s premier franchise, dominating both coverage and championships, but all six teams were vibrant within their cities and developed a cult-ish fan following.

During that time frame, a vast network of minor league teams rose and fell across the United States and Canada. Leagues formed as early as the 1920s and were often in cites that had other, better known professional teams playing there. One of the earliest recorded American minor leagues (as the records kept for these leagues are often non-existent, it is impossible to say which minor league was the definitive first) was the American Hockey Association, which began as a six-team (with only five functional teams) league around the Great Lakes in 1926. But just two years later, the league expanded to include a team from Oklahoma, the Tulsa Oilers, which were a part of the AHA until it folded in 1942. Tulsa may not seem like an obvious choice, but many of the oilmen from Alberta had started to immigrate to the new oil fields in the south and took the sport with them. Teams from Oklahoma City (1933-1935), Fort Worth (1941-1942), Kansas City (1927-1942) and Dallas (1941-1942) were also a part of the AHA, each marking a unique venture of ice hockey into the southern United States. The rival American Hockey League was established in 1940 and because an established player by concentrating its teams in the small towns in New England and the Upper Midwest. And at the same time, small Pacific Coast leagues tried their hands as well, each failed after a five to ten year run .But other smaller leagues continued to keep ice hockey vibrant in the south and west through the 1940s and 1950s, establishing the roots for a vast chain of minor leagues that still exist across the regions today. These minor leagues thrived on a cross of gawking curiosity from fans and the same cult-ish following, albeit on a smaller scale, that developed around the NHL teams of the era. The leagues that survived were the ones that saw the limits of their own fan base, and were distinctly regional by design, developing local rivalries that drew in fans. The key for these leagues seemed to be finding competition among teams fans were familiar with – two of the most successful leagues were the ones based in almost exclusively California and Texas, respectively."

Exit into section about the 1967 expansion and beyond...

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