In the late 19th century, boots and blades were sold separately and put together using leather straps or keys. The introduction of a spring-clamping mechanism around 1880 made assembly easier. Permanent fastenings were later used in order to give greater stability. Tube skates were introduced in the early 20th century. Eventually, the boot would develop into a full leather incarnation with steel blades. Leather would give way to plastic, and soon to a hybrid of materials offering the ultimate in strength and mobility became the norm.
In the late 19th century, boots and blades were sold separately and put together using leather straps or keys. The introduction of a spring-clamping mechanism around 1880 made assembly easier. Permanent fastenings were later used in order to give greater stability. Tube skates were introduced in the early 20th century. Eventually, the boot would develop into a full leather incarnation with steel blades. Leather would give way to plastic, and soon to a hybrid of materials offering the ultimate in strength and mobility became the norm.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Evolution of the Ice-Skate

The evolution of the ice-skate.

CHIN

© Hockey Hall of Fame


Jim Roberts

Jim Roberts wearing the trend-setting "Tuuk" skate. In the 1970's Montreal Canadien Jim Roberts became the first NHLer to wear the skate blade known as "Tuuks." When his high scoring teammates Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and Jacques Lemaire soon followed, the floodgates opened for the popular blades so common today.

CHIN

© Hockey Hall of Fame


At the turn of the century, following the example set by goaltenders, players started to wear shin guards - first as padding sewn into their stockings, then thicker padding fastened with elastic bands. As the game sped up and shots became harder, shin pads evolved into the shatterproof plastic versions common today.
At the turn of the century, following the example set by goaltenders, players started to wear shin guards - first as padding sewn into their stockings, then thicker padding fastened with elastic bands. As the game sped up and shots became harder, shin pads evolved into the shatterproof plastic versions common today.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Originally, there were no gloves for hockey. Players would either wear winter gloves or play barehanded. Gloves specifically for hockey first appeared around 1904 and took a few years to gain acceptance. Gauntlets, as they became known, started to become popular by 1915.
Originally, there were no gloves for hockey. Players would either wear winter gloves or play barehanded. Gloves specifically for hockey first appeared around 1904 and took a few years to gain acceptance. Gauntlets, as they became known, started to become popular by 1915.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

From "Gauntlet" to Glove

From "gauntlet" to glove - much has changed in a century.

CHIN

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


In the early days, sticks were short, heavy and made from one piece of wood, much like field hockey sticks. Eventually, they became longer, lighter and made from two pieces, and would also be manufactured from other materials. Today, sticks are made of fibreglass, aluminium and/or graphite, offering improved longevity and flexibility. Another innovation saw replaceable wooden blades that could be attached to aluminium or fibreglass shafts.
In the early days, sticks were short, heavy and made from one piece of wood, much like field hockey sticks. Eventually, they became longer, lighter and made from two pieces, and would also be manufactured from other materials. Today, sticks are made of fibreglass, aluminium and/or graphite, offering improved longevity and flexibility. Another innovation saw replaceable wooden blades that could be attached to aluminium or fibreglass shafts.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Jerseys have also evolved from thick wool turtleneck sweaters to loose fitting, lightweight jerseys. In 1902, the player’ numbers and, decades later, their names, were put on the backs of their jerseys.

In the mid 1970’s "tie-downs" or "fight straps" were introduced. The tie-down consisted of a small strap sewn inside the jersey that could be fastened to the players’ pants so that it was impossible to pull his jersey up over his head.
Jerseys have also evolved from thick wool turtleneck sweaters to loose fitting, lightweight jerseys. In 1902, the player’ numbers and, decades later, their names, were put on the backs of their jerseys.

In the mid 1970’s "tie-downs" or "fight straps" were introduced. The tie-down consisted of a small strap sewn inside the jersey that could be fastened to the players’ pants so that it was impossible to pull his jersey up over his head.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Team Sweaters

Team sweaters continue to change and evolve.

CHIN

© Hockey Hall of Fame


The first player credited with wearing a helmet was Boston Bruins’ rookie defenseman George Owen in 1928. Owen had played football at Harvard before joining the Bruins and he wore his leather football helmet when he joined the NHL.

Despite a career-ending head injury to "Ace" Bailey in the 1933-34 season, helmets didn’t become common for many decades. On January 13, 1968, Minnesota North Star centre Bill Masterson struck his head on the ice during a game against the Oakland Seals. He died forty-eight hours later. This tragedy led to many players wearing helmets, though they were still in the minority.

By the 1970’s, it was mandatory for junior and college players to wear helmets, but not until the 1979-80 season did the National Hockey League pass a rule stating all players joining the league after that point had to wear a helmet.
The first player credited with wearing a helmet was Boston Bruins’ rookie defenseman George Owen in 1928. Owen had played football at Harvard before joining the Bruins and he wore his leather football helmet when he joined the NHL.

Despite a career-ending head injury to "Ace" Bailey in the 1933-34 season, helmets didn’t become common for many decades. On January 13, 1968, Minnesota North Star centre Bill Masterson struck his head on the ice during a game against the Oakland Seals. He died forty-eight hours later. This tragedy led to many players wearing helmets, though they were still in the minority.

By the 1970’s, it was mandatory for junior and college players to wear helmets, but not until the 1979-80 season did the National Hockey League pass a rule stating all players joining the league after that point had to wear a helmet.

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Craig Mactavish

Craig MacTavish won three Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and one with the New York Rangers in his career. When Craig Mactavish retired following the 1996-97 season, he entered the history book as the last player ever to play in the NHL without a helmet.

CHIN
Musée de la civilisation, Hockey Hall of Fame, Museum of Canadian Broadcasting, National Film Board, Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Investigate the role that hockey plays in Canada’s national identity
  • Explore the history of hockey in Canada
  • Investigate how the evolution of hockey equipment used by Canadian hockey players improved the quality and safety of the game.
  • Explore the evolution of the rules of hockey in Canada
  • Identify significant people involved in hockey in Canada
  • Identify historically significant arenas and rinks in Canada
  • Describe the involvement over time of Aboriginal peoples in hockey

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