UNITED STATES—Modern ice hockey differs greatly from what it used to be in the 1980s and 90s. And if we go back a little, the scenario was even different. However, the origin of the game is unknown, but it is an evolved version of the conventional field hockey game played in Northern Europe in the 18th century.

The Origin

The first game of ice hockey was played by McGill University students in Montreal, Canada, under Creighton’s rules in 1875. It was James Creighton who devised the rules for modern ice hockey. The match was organised in the Victoria Skating Rink between nine players per side and was played with a circular piece of wood.

Further, the McGill University hockey club was the first ice hockey club formed in 1877, followed by the Quebec hockey club in 1878 and Montreal Victorians in 1881.

Formation of the league

Around the year 1880, the number of players on each side dropped from nine to seven. The number of teams also increased, so much so that the first world championship of ice hockey was played in Montreal as part of the Winter Carnival that year. The Carnival Cup was awarded to McGill after winning the tournament.

It laid the base for the NHL because, in 1886, the teams that participated in the Winter Carnival formed an association known as the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada and organized a season where they all challenged the existing winners.

Stanley Cup

The origin of the Stanley Cup was out of a need. The Governor General of Canada, Lord Stanley of Preston, enjoyed watching ice hockey and first attended the Winter Carnival in 1888.

However, in 1892, the winners or the best team had no recognition, so he bought a silver bowl and awarded the Montreal Hockey Club as a trophy. What we now know as the Stanley Cup was called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup then.

The Changing Times of the NHL

The NHL has given some iconic athletes to the world in the 1980s and 1990s. The legends of that time have become an inspiration for the younger generations. But the gameplay was completely different and not to the way it is currently played.

What are the differences?

The defense and goalie did the bare minimum to get involved in the game. They were mainly there to try and make it hard for opponents to score. There was no forecheck, and goalies could not stop easy goals, while the opponents’ offence had all the time to score points.

Today’s games appear stronger than they were in the ’80s and ’90s. The players of today seem to be bigger, faster, and possess more skills than those from previous decades. Year-round conditioning is now a must for players under coaching strategies. It brings the NHL odds into the game and keeps the audience hooked to the game.

The equipment has also changed, including the goalies’ pads, which are much bigger, and players now use composite sticks, allowing them to hit the puck with increased power and accuracy.

The comparison of the slap shot that was designed to take the puck to initiate the offence is of no use. Now, almost every player can hit the puck with extreme pace, and it is not labelled as an ability of a player.

The defense line is much more active and has more responsibilities. Every team at least has one player at the back to take the puck to the offence.


Of course, the popularity of ice hockey is rising, and more developments are taking place to bring in more interest in the people. As we progress, the use of technology will surely change the way players play in years to come.