10 Bizarre and Unbelievable facts about ice hockey
Widely referred to and joked about as little more than a brawl on ice, ice hockey is rife with stories that are so ludicrous that it’s hard to associate them to a top professional sport. Enormously popular in North America and Eastern Europe, ice hockey continually inspires and attracts millions of spectators who turn up throughout the season to witness “The Fastest Game on Earth”.
It’s only fitting that a sport that involves full teams of burly men flying across ice while knocking the stuffing out of each other with wooden sticks produces its fair number of nutty stories; these are the very best.
1. Bang for your buck
In a shocking move, the likes of which we’ll never see in the Premier League transfer window, Winnipeg Jets sold Kris Draper to the Detroit Red Wings for the measly sum of $1.00. Worse still, Draper went on to play over 1,000 games for his new side scoring 161 goals.
2. “The Great One”
Widely considered the best ice hockey player in history, Canadian Wayne Gretzky retired with a staggering 2,857 career points (over 1,000 more than the next player) and more assists than any other player had total points. No wonder he’s called “The Great One”.
In fact, if you removed every one of Gretzky’s 894 career goals (another record), he’d still be the leading league scorer thanks to his almost 2,000 assists.
3. Can I have a volunteer from the audience?
In the NHL, should both of a team’s keepers be injured and unable to play, the team can draft a keeper from anywhere, even the crowd.
4. Grassroots sport
Before ice hockey was a professional sport, the game was played with frozen cow dung rather than a vulcanized rubber disc.
5. Bad reputation
Tiger Williams is a player who lived up to his name. Over the course of his professional career he spent an unbelievable 2.7 days, or 3,966 minutes, in the penalty box. Considering he played shy of 400 games, that’s roughly one major penalty per professional game played.
6. The adventures of the Stanley Cup
The NHL championship trophy has been taken to a strip club twice, been kicked into a frozen canal by drunken players, thrown into a bonfire and lost at an airport.
7. You had one job!
There are 24 engraving errors on the Stanley Cup, ranging from humble typos to relatives names snuck into the team roster.
8. Goal of the season
A Swedish player once scored a goal by skating behind the keeper with the puck stuck in his hockey trousers and squatting in order to let the puck fall out of his trousers and into the goal.
9. Fire and ice
One of the most bizarre ice hockey incidents involved a player being set alight after a puck struck a matchbook in his pocket, igniting his uniform. He was unharmed thanks to being quickly extinguished by his teammates.
10. Beware, low flying objects!
Only one animal has ever been killed during an NHL game, which is probably one too many come to think of it. The incident took place during a game in the 1970s when Buffalo Sabres player Jim Lorentz saw a bat flying across the ring and decided (don’t ask us why) to take a swing at it. He killed the unlucky mammal making history, for all the wrong reasons, by doing so.