The history of hockey is similar to that of golf as it basically is rooted from any game that involved a stick and a ball or rock which have all been played for thousands of years. Very rough and crude forms of these games have been taking place for thousands of years throughout Europe, Egypt and South America that have formed hockey history.
Hockey began to form clearer roots throughout England in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds. These were treacherous games that often combined the entire village versus another village and teams could often have up to a hundred players and the players often played through major injuries and endured several days of these games.
The sport that we are more familiar with today began to form at Eton University in England when they actually began to formulate rules around 1860. Then the first Hockey Assoc. in the history of hockey was formed in 1875 which clarified more rules.
Further growth of the sport was spawning in North America as new settlers came to the continent. Montreal was credited with the first organized game in the history of hockey that was played in 1875 by college students. The students then formed more associations and leagues and created new rules at the same time.
The game continued to grow in popularity and became so popular that Montreal offered the first World Championship of Ice Hockey in 1883. European hockey continued to grow at the college level while a number of universities formed fierce rivalries.
Some dramatic rule changes were applied that helped progress the game to a field of eleven players while hockey equipment began to evolve as well. The use of safety equipment to include pads, helmets, mouth pieces and protective eye shields have dramatically improved from the early days of hockey history. It was not uncommon to not even wear head gear until the last few decades.
The international appeal of hockey grew tremendously due to the Olympic Games. It was first played at the Games in 1924 and only allowed male teams. Canada was a safe bet to win the gold medal as they won the first six out of seven golds. From the mid fifties to the eighties the Soviet Union dominated. Although the US won its first gold medal in hockey history in1960 it was the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” where our college amateur team went on to beat the heavily favored Russians that spurred a growth in Americas appetite for hockey.
The NHL as we know it today was formed in 1917 and consists of 30 teams 24 of which are from America and the remainder in Canada. The bulk of the players come from Canada, Europe and America. There is also an International Association called the International Hockey Federation which was formed in 1908 and continues today by hosting some of the largest international ice hockey tournaments. These two organizations have helped to form and govern hockey as we know it today. The sport has grown a lot from twigs and balls to a major international activity that produces billions in revenue each year and has some of the most amazing athletes on the planet, so goes the history of hockey.