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The History of Hockey Relive great moments in hockey history and discuss how the game has changed over time.

Origins of Greatness

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07-29-2012, 02:12 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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Origins of Greatness

Everyone has heard the childhood stories of Guy Lafleur and Wayne Gretzky. How Guy would sleep in his equipment and Wayne would play livingroom hockey with his grandmother while watching HNIC. While examples like this are not necessary to making it in the NHL, it certainly helped in the development of these two hockey icons. Mostly, it demonstrated their love of the game at an early age. I began this thread as a way to collect stories like this, as there are numerous out there. I am particularly interested in the stories of European and Russian players, but feel free to add a unique tidbit about anyone in hockey history.

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07-29-2012, 03:58 PM
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Killion
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...well, "back in the day" when hockey could be enjoyed by all regardless of economic station, the vast majority of NHL'ers & pro's came from backgrounds (climatically & economically) that today seem almost Dickensian. All kinds of stories about players using cow patties as pucks, mismatched skates & sizes, rolled up newspapers & catalogues as padding. Coming from larger families, money extremely tight. I mean, you take a look at the backgrounds of the games greats pretty much from about pre-1980 & its almost the polar opposite from the players post 1980 in any given draft year. Hockey has become a rich mans sport, out of reach but for only the wealthier families in urban centers, rural districts. There are exceptions of course, however on the whole, not many. Almost as if economic recession or lower income households were the forges in which greatness was once created. Hardscrabble, innovation & making do with less the Mother of Invention. Goes a ways to explaining Soviet & Russian player production as well as the northern European countries of particularly Finland, hit hard during WW2, the Swedes and of course the Czechs', all nations who have produced some of the greatest players (and teams) in the history of the game.


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07-29-2012, 08:21 PM
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pappyline
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Interesting. Growing up in the 50's in the snow belt of Southern Ontario, we were all passionate about the game. If we could find a patch of ice we used it but that was dependent on the weather. If you had a nice cold winter you could skate from November to March. Even the community rink had natural ice and it was in constant use. Not only for hockey but also figure skating & public skating. For organized house league hockey you paid a buck for the season which gave you a 1 hour game every saturday. If you made a town team you got extra but at no cost, Sure wasn't a rich person's game then. Open to everybody. IMO, this is why Canada produced the best players. Passion & cheap.

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07-29-2012, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
Interesting. Growing up in the 50's in the snow belt of Southern Ontario, we were all passionate about the game... IMO, this is why Canada produced the best players. Passion & cheap.
... pretty much. By about 1980 or so however, certainly in Toronto, the free outdoor rinks once plentiful had all but disappeared as the Baby Boomer population aged, enrolments at elementary schools where most of these rinks were located tapering off, budgets cut, no more water bills & boards, lighting & per diems to the people who flooded them etc; eventually many schools closed down altogether.

Fee's for amateur, from House League to Rep, what they now call AAA (which in the 50's, 60's & 70's was AA, A & B) in the GTHL ranging from maybe $45 to $80 tops for the season. I have a cousin in Leaside with 3 boys, 2 AAA & 1 AA, and today he drops around $10,000 per kid per season on Registration Fee's, Practice & Travel etc. There arent any community rinks in the immediate vicinity, their experience of shinny limited to the road, maybe the odd time taking a 5mile hike to the nearest artificial outdoor rink at odd hours for a game of pickup. Some of the smaller centers, like Paris, Brantford etc do still provide affordable programs, leagues; outdoor rinks of natural ice, but there few and far between.

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07-29-2012, 09:04 PM
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Killion what you say is so true and hockey has become a more elitist sport of late much like Tennis due to the costs.

A parallel thing has happened with the sons of former NHL players playing in elite type of programs like the BWC here in the lower mainland for instance, which has been around for years but is producing even more NHL talent than ever before.

When I was growing up most "stars" or "superstars" came more from small towns with less distractions for boys when growing up, or at least that was the perception.

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07-29-2012, 09:14 PM
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Here in rural Manitoba in the spring, we would get a major melt in March. The fields would be a vast lake. Then it would get cold again for about a week and the lake froze over. You could skate for a mile. Best week of the year. This was all after organized hockey had ended, which is another thing of the past I hear.

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07-29-2012, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Killion what you say is so true and hockey has become a more elitist sport of late much like Tennis due to the costs.
... ya its interesting. The first major "star" if you will that came out of Vancouver was John Ferguson Sr. His Dad died when he was 9 & his mother brought up John alone in the hardscrabble patch of East Vancouver out by the PNE. Then a couple of decades later, in the 80's, Joe Sakic of Burnaby, Brett Hull who lived in North Van along with Kariya, areas that were/are decidedly middle to upper middle class, the North Shore & as you mentioned the BWC providing excellent though somewhat pricey programs & leagues, from House to Rep. Today, theres no way a single mother living in East Vancouver could afford to enrol one of her kids in hockey, however, they might be able to do so if living in Penticton, Kimberley, Fort St. John or one of the smaller cities throughout the interior. Whistler & Kelowna maybe not so much, but elsewhere I would think so.

and yes LBD, Global Warming. Shorter winters. Natural ice hard to come by.

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07-29-2012, 11:10 PM
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I started out on Bobskates when I was four. Double runners for you newbies. Skated on the hard packed snow on the sidewalk. I got my first pair of single blades, Daoust Skates, when I was five, handed down from my brother. Cardboard toes and my Dad stuffed newspaper in the toes and said that I would grow into them. Four of us lived in a one bedroom apartment with a common single bathroom that we shared with three other apartments on the main floor of the building. We were poor. I never skated on an indoor rink till I was twelve. We moved into a two bedroom house when I was eight and we had a community club that was two and a half blocks from our house. It was outdoors. I would put my skates on at home and walk to the rink if the warming shack was closed. I was at the rink every day. When we played hockey on the street, we would sometimes use the horse turds, delivered to us from the horse drawn milk wagon, for pucks.

I was very driven and eventually I was fortunate enough to be on the ice with some of the best hockey players and officials in the world.

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07-29-2012, 11:26 PM
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Cheese Cutters

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhhofr View Post
I started out on Bobskates when I was four. Double runners for you newbies. Skated on the hard packed snow on the sidewalk. I got my first pair of single blades, Daoust Skates, when I was five, handed down from my brother. Cardboard toes and my Dad stuffed newspaper in the toes and said that I would grow into them. Four of us lived in a one bedroom apartment with a common single bathroom that we shared with three other apartments on the main floor of the building. We were poor. I never skated on an indoor rink till I was twelve. We moved into a two bedroom house when I was eight and we had a community club that was two and a half blocks from our house. It was outdoors. I would put my skates on at home and walk to the rink if the warming shack was closed. I was at the rink every day. When we played hockey on the street, we would sometimes use the horse turds, delivered to us from the horse drawn milk wagon, for pucks.

I was very driven and eventually I was fortunate enough to be on the ice with some of the best hockey players and officials in the world.
Called Cheese Cutters in Montreal, attachables. Young 3, for a couple of weeks then regular skates from the community center. Loaners that pre schoolers used until school let out. Advantage having big feet at an early age.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_skate

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07-30-2012, 12:55 AM
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Killion
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhhofr View Post
I started out on Bobskates when I was four.
... ja, I started out skating on a pair of double runners carved from the metatarsal bones of a horse from my childhood home at L'Anse aux Meadows. Fondly do I remember games of shinny against the Skraelingers up & down what you now call the St.Lawrence Seaway. My brother Lief?. He got a breakaway pass from me up around Quebec City, last we ever saw of him. I guess he just kept skating, stickhandling until he hit the Bay of Fundy and open water. He never could keep his head up.

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