What Is Hockey Day In Canada? [Expert Guide!]

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It may not be as popular as soccer or baseball, but hockey is played and followed in Canada more than any other winter sport. The National Hockey League (NHL) is especially popular, and has been a prominent part of mainstream culture in Canada for years. As a result, December has been declared Hockey Day in Canada every year since 2014. The holiday recognises the immense contribution that hockey has made to Canadian culture, and pays homage to the skill and grit that is quintessential to the sport.

Why Was Hockey Day In Canada Initially Spurned As An Idea?

Hockey Day in Canada was initially spurned as an idea in 2014, when Justin Trudeau’s government suggested the date for a national day of mourning for many Canadians. The backlash was swift and severe, with people protesting the day and threatening to boycott all celebrations relating to the winter sport. One opinion piece summed up the backlash perfectly:

“It is sad to see how many people are against hockey on social media. As a nation, we should be proud of our game! Celebrate it! Hockey has given us so much and it still gives us much joy and excitement. We should not ruin it for ourselves and those who love the game,” writer Peter Nowak said at the time.

The backlash was such that even some NHL team owners were against the idea of Hockey Day. Dean Lombardi, then-president of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, suggested that the league could even move their playoff games to a different day. The suggestion was met with scorn from fans, who continued to protest the day.

Hockey Is A Life-learning Journey For Many Canadians

It was only a few years ago that many Canadians had little to no exposure to hockey. The sport had largely been played by elites in Canada and in other parts of the world. It was not uncommon for hockey to be referred to as ‘foreign’ or ‘elitist’, terms that are no longer used in popular culture. Thanks to the spread of hockey culture in Canada through grassroots initiatives and social media, as well as through the efforts of influential figures in the community, this is no longer the case.

Hockey is now popular across all social classes in Canada. It is a life-learning journey for many, which has made it a bit more difficult to pinpoint exactly when and where hockey was born in Canada. The earliest records of the sport in Canada date back to the 1800s, with the first organized hockey league being the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) in 1876. The game continues to grow in popularity every year, with over a million people playing in hockey leagues across the country in 2018. This is up from just over 900,000 in 2017 and over 800,000 in 2016. Many more are involved in casual play, which means there are more than a million hockey players in Canada right now. This is according to Hockey Canada, the governing body of the sport in Canada.

How Is Hockey Day In Canada Different From Other Sports’ National Days?

The main difference between Hockey Day in Canada and other sports’ national days is that there is no set date for hockey’s day of mourning. This is largely thanks to the fact that the backlash against the day was not as violent as others. It is also likely that certain figures within the hockey community, including players, coaches, and team owners, lobbied hard to ensure that Canada’s biggest winter sport was not forgotten on December 6, the date set for Hockey Day in Canada. Some people may still choose to mourn the death of hockey that day, but it is not required.

What is also different about hockey‘s day of mourning is that the sport’s biggest event, the NHL All-Star Game, is played a day after the actual holiday. This is to ensure that people have had time to ‘mourn’ and ‘celebrate’ the occasion in a more fitting manner. It is an important distinction because it shows how the NHL, and sports in general, use the occasion to teach children about a diverse range of cultures and lifestyles through the lens of sportsmanship and fair play.

The Impact Of Hockey In Canada

Thanks to the cultural influence of the NHL, many Canadians are now familiar with hockey. The sport has had a massive impact on Canadian culture, especially in the country’s biggest cities, where many minor hockey leagues have sprung up to provide the next generation of players with a competitive outlet. Many Canadian kids spent their formative years playing hockey, which has had a lasting impact on the country.

Hockey has brought with it a new era of multiculturalism, with many players, coaches, and administrators in the NHL, as well as the OHA and other hockey leagues, coming from diverse backgrounds. The game has been an important step in breaking down barriers, promoting inclusivity, and teaching people about different cultures. It is a credit to the powerful influence and impact that hockey has had on Canadian culture that this day was originally proclaimed as Hockey Day in Canada, but that it continues to be observed and supported each year, even if the sport itself, as we know it, was not officially established in this country until a century later.

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