Throughout time, Canada has always had a strong bond with the sport of hockey.
Whether it’s sitting in a bar on a cold snowy night watching Hockey Night In Canada, debating who the best NHL player is of all time, or playing shinny with friends, there is no disputing that hockey’s popularity has never wavered over the true test of time.
Canadians have always taken special pride in watching Team Canada truly dominate during international play. Team Canada proved superior as they dominated amateur men’s hockey from 1920-1950, and weren’t really challenged until 1972 when Canada barely eked out gold in what was the eight and final game of their much anticipated eight game Team Canada Summit Series match-up against the Soviets.
Since then, Canada has always iced a powerhouse squad during international competition which once again paid off in 2002 when they won hockey gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Canada’s past on-ice dominance in international play, along with the cold winter climate and accessible outdoor rinks, are a huge reason why Canadians have always been so enthusiastic about hockey.
Through the decades, Canadians have also had the privilege of cheering on such powerhouse Canadian franchises such as the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
Popular books have been written on what’s termed, ‘The Battle of Alberta,’ which detailed the intense playoff wars in the 1980’s between the Smythe Division rivals Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. Needles to say, these playoff series drew enthusiastic sold out crowds in both Edmonton and Calgary.
Meanwhile arenas were also solid out in the other five Canadian markets when they staged some deep playoff runs which included some storied playoff series between the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens and in more recent times the Leafs vs. Senators in what was called ‘The battle of Ontario.’
The Winnipeg Jets have yet to win a Stanley Cup, but that has not stopped their fans from rallying around the team come playoff time and staging what is called the white out, where all fans come to the arena in white.
According to statistics released in 2019, the only sport in Canada which has more people participating then hockey is golf.
Throughout time, various Canadiens have been fascinated by such hockey icons as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard, Gordie Howe, Patrick Roy and more recently, Connor McDavid to name just a few who have or are currently dominating the sport.
Gretzky, otherwise known as “The Great One,” is considered by many to be the NHL’s all- time greatest player. Usually the debate is between Gretzky and another Canadian icon in former Boston Bruins/Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Bobby Orr.
Following the 1999 season, when Gretzky hung up his skates, he was the proud owner of 61 NHL records. During his career which saw him play for the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers, Gretzky finished up as the leagues all times greatest scorer with 894 goals along with 2,857 points. During his prime, Gretzky starred in Edmonton where he led them to four Stanley Cups.
Regarding Orr, knee injuries unfortunately shortened his career as he played in only 657 games, where he scored 270 career goals along with 915 points. Known for his explosive skating and offensive instincts, Orr is best known for his heroics on May 10th, 1970 when at the Boston Garden, he scored the Stanley Cup winning goal against St. Louis Blues goalie Glenn Hall. His best year cane in the 1970/71 campaign when he dominated by scoring 37 goals, 139 points along with a whopping +124.
All these years later, people are still debating about which one is the number one all time player.
Today, hockey has been described as being a central part of one’s community. Players from different religious and ethnic backgrounds have come together.
Mainly, hockey has always been the national pride, and a big part of Canadian culture and national pride.