Hockey can be looked upon as just a game, but to millions of fans it extends far beyond just a game to provide entertainment,
and inspiration. Every year, hundreds of thousands of hockey players both young and old, strap on the skates and take to the ice,
dreaming about one day playing in the ultimate arena - the National Hockey League.
The game of hockey originated in Canada around 1855, when the game on ice was first played with a puck rather than a ball, distinguishing
it from field hockey. Through the years the objective of the game still remains the same; to score by playing a hard rubber disc,
the puck, into one of the nets placed at opposite ends of the rink). The players control the puck using a long stick with a
curved blade at one end. A typical hockey team consists of 22 players with atleast two goaltenders. Each team is allowed to
have a maximum of six skaters on the ice. The goalie wears special equipment such as goalie skates and is the only player allowed to
stop the puck with his/her hands, though any players on the ice can use their bodies to do the same.
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League (NHL) was officially formed in 1917 with six teams; the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa
Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, Toronto Arenas (or Blueshirts), and a team from the 228th Battalion who were stationed in Toronto. Over
the years the NHL has grown from the initial set of six teams to the current league that has thirty franchises across Canada and the
United States of America. In 1893, the Stanley Cup was established as the trophy for the Canadian senior championship. By 1926 it
had became the award for the winner of the National Hockey League playoffs. The Stanley Cup is the ultimate hockey prize, bar
none. Many a young hockey player has dreamt of drinking from Lord Stanley's mug or atleast imagined scoring the game winning
goal while playing street-hockey.
This league holds many highly skilled players from all over the world, most of them being Canadian. Traditionally they have always been mainly Canadian but more recently American and European players have dramatically increased over the years. Sidney Crosby a Canadian captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins was named the best NHL player in 2014 at the ESPY awards. He led the league in scoring 104 points in the previous season (2014) and has done so for many years before. Those who are interested in online betting on the NHL
will know Crosby’s team are not the favourites to win the Stanley Cup this year despite Crosby’s wizardry.