How Has Hockey Changed Over The Years? [Facts!]

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Hockey is a traditional, yet very popular sport in Canada and around the world. It is known for its speed, strength, and rough play. Although the sport is more than 100 years old, it has recently gained popularity, especially in the last decade.

Hockey has changed quite a bit over the years, both in terms of the equipment and the way the game is played. This article will go over some of the changes and how they have changed hockey as we know it.

The Equipment

The most recognizable and iconic piece of hockey equipment is of course the puck. Although there are several different styles of pucks, for the most part, they all follow the same design principals.

Pucks were originally made of leather or cloth. They had an upright, spherical shape with a flat bottom. Puck sizes and shapes have changed over the years, but the basic design has remained the same. Modern pucks are much lighter than their predecessors and are made of a synthetic textile called Dacron. This makes them about 40% lighter than they were in the early 20th century. Modern pucks are also about 1.5 inches in diameter, rather than the earlier versions’ 2 inches. This has made them easier to control and maneuver for the players.

The Ice

The other major component of hockey is of course the ice. The game was first played on ice blocks in Montreal in the 1870s. Since then, the surface requirements have changed. In the early 20th century, artificial surfaces were first used, made of cork and rubber. Later, concrete was the preferred surface treatment, and it still is today. The texture of the ice has also changed. It used to be fairly rough, especially in the winter. Now, ice makers use technology and additives to make the ice smoother, which improves the game’s speed and skill element.

The Stadiums

A stadium is where the game is played, and it is where the fans are, too. The first hockey stadiums were built in North America in the early 20th century and were considered grand, revolutionary spaces. They were made of wood and steel, with stands composed of rows of wood and steel I-beams. After a few decades, larger than life, open-air hockey stadiums were born, with the Canadian game giving way to the American game.

The Roles Of Players And Coaches

While the equipment and the surface have changed, the roles of the players and the coaches have not. The sport is still largely played by larger and stronger individuals, as the name would suggest. However, positions have changed, with today’s hockey players being much more agile than their counterparts of yesteryear.

Most notably, today’s players are much more comfortable taking shots from the point-blank range than their predecessors were. Take a look at the top 10 highest scoring seasons of all time, as of October 2020.

10th highest – Wayne Gretzky (1981–82) – 272 goals
9th – Guy Lafrance (1961–62) – 259 goals
8th – Pavel Bure (1988–89) – 256 goals
7th – Max Bentley (1935–36) – 255 goals
6th – Joe Malone (1914–15) – 254 goals
5th – Maurice Richard (1936–37) – 251 goals
4th – Mike Bossy (1981–82) – 240 goals
3rd – Bobby Hull (1953–54) – 235 goals
2nd – Mario Lemieux (1988–89) – 214 goals
1st – Wayne Gretzky (1978–79) – 212 goals

Even though the positions have changed, the way the game is played has not. The sport still follows the same basic principles of speed, skill, and strength. The biggest changes have come in the way fans view and participate in the game. Many hockey fans now follow the sport from their smartphones, using apps and social media to keep up with the latest news, scores, and stats.

This article will go over some of the significant changes that hockey has undergone over the years, as well as how they have changed the game as we know it.

A Few Minor Changes

The most recognizable and iconic piece of gear in hockey is, of course, the puck. While the equipment and the ice have changed, the way we look at pucks has not. The design of the puck has always been fairly consistent, with a few small variations here and there.

In terms of size, early hockey pucks were larger than they are today. They had a maximum allowed weight of 12 ounces, as opposed to the current 6 ounces. In addition, early hockey pucks were made of more durable materials, as they could get pretty rough during play. Finally, while today’s pucks are bright yellow for visual identification, they used to be green or orange.

The Leather Bag

In the early 20th century, leather bag makers started making hockey bags for players and officials. These bags were primarily used to keep track of gloves, handwarmers, and other equipment during the game. The leather bags were distinctively shaped to fit the different positions on the ice, with the shoulder straps and the handles designed to fit over the player’s arms. This made them much easier to transport during the game. After a while, bags started becoming more functional. They started serving as a storage unit for the players’ equipment, as well as a place to keep track of the game’s stats. Currently, leather hockey bags remain a popular choice among fans, teams, and players, especially now that they are made of synthetic materials instead of animal skin.

The Uniforms

Hockey is a very popular sport in Canada, so it is only natural that the teams and their players would want to sport their own unique look. Over the years, the uniformity of the sport has become less and less about following the standard set by the NHL, with many teams choosing to go their own way and create something unique.

In the early 20th century, the uniforms of hockey players were basically a long-sleeved jersey with pants. Back then, the only difference between a hockey and a baseball uniform was the color; the home whites for hockey players and the browns and yales for the batters. These days, the uniforms of hockey players can look like anything, as long as it is on the NHL’s list of approved designs. The best part of this is that the equipment and the ice are quite versatile, so it is possible to create a unique, custom-made look that suits the game’s tempo perfectly.

Red And White Vs. Blue And Yellow

Hockey has always been a battle between the red teams and the blue teams. The rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs goes back to the 1800s, with the teams first meeting in the winter of 1894. This is most likely because the colors of the two teams are similar (red and white vs. blue and yellow), but it is also thanks to the league’s scheduling rules at the time, as the two teams never played in the same season. This tradition has continued throughout the years, even with the creation of all-new teams such as the Calgary Flames, who make their debut in the 2020 NHL season.


While the equipment and the roles of the players and the fans have changed, the way the game is played has not. Thanks to technology, today’s hockey players have access to a lot more information than their predecessors did. With the invention of the hockey-mapped GPS, it became possible to track the positions of the players and the puck, as well as receive live updates during the game, all from the comfort of a coach’s or an assistant’s smartphone. This has made a significant difference in the game, especially since technology can also be used during practice sessions to improve the players’ skills.

In the old days, hockey was mainly played on outdoor rinks spread across the country. It was not uncommon for the grass to grow above the players’ skates. In addition, the lighting of the day was often inadequate, which made it more difficult for the coaches to see what was going on. While today’s rinks are still located outdoors, especially in the Canadian winter, they are much closer to the perfect indoor dimensions and the lighting is much more consistent. This has allowed the game to grow and evolve, becoming more refined and polished as a result.

With continued improvements to the technology, everyone from the players to the spectators will benefit from the enhanced experience.

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