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10 Things: Turning points in Montreal sports history

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  1. March 3, 1875: The first organized game of indoor ice hockey was played at the Victoria Skating Rink on René-Lévesque between Drummond and Stanley, where the Sheraton Hotel now stands. Civil engineering student James Creighton organized the game, and many of the players were McGill students. The current standard dimensions for a hockey rink are still the same as those of Victoria Rink.
  2. 1891: A McGill alumnus had a hand in the creation of another major sport: Basketball. James Naismith was working at a Massachusetts YMCA in 1891, and was instructed to invent an “athletic distraction for rowdy kids trapped indoors by the harsh winter.” The rules of basketball have changed significantly since Naismith’s original game, but it is now one of the most popular professional sports around the world.
  3. 1929: The name “Redmen” was used for the first time to describe McGill sports teams. The origin of the name is a topic of debate. Regardless, the name stuck and has since been an integral part of McGill’s sports identity. McGill women’s teams adopted the “Martlets” moniker in 1976.
  4. 1978: The Formula One Canadian Grand Prix moved to Île Notre-Dame in Montreal, where it has been held every year since. In 2005, the Canadian Grand Prix was the third most-watched sporting event worldwide, behind only Super Bowl XXXIX and the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final. The race attracts over 300,000 spectators each year, 25 per cent of whom are from outside of Quebec.
  5. August 12, 1994: The 1994 Montreal Expos held a Major League Baseball-leading 74-40 record when a players union strike cut the season short, cancelling the playoffs and World Series. This hurt the Expos’ campaign for a new stadium, and the team owners decided not to invest in retaining star players such as Larry Walker and Moisés Alou. Attendance declined over the next decade and financial troubles compounded, prompting the team to move to Washington D.C. in 2005 to become the Nationals.
  6. 1995, 1996: The Winnipeg Jets and the Quebec Nordiques moved from Canadian cities to cities in the United States, exemplifying a gradual league-wide shift in the NHL to the American market. The Montreal Canadiens are the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup, having done so a record 24 times up until the 1992-1993 season. This accounts for a whopping 25.3 per cent of all championships contested since the founding of the NHL.
  7. 1996: The Baltimore Stallions CFL expansion team moved to Montreal to re-establish the Montreal Alouettes. Montreal had been without a CFL team since the 1987 season and had not had much success on the field since the 1970s. In more recent years, the Alouettes have been a dominant force in the CFL with seven Grey Cup appearances between 2002 and 2010, as well as four titles.
  8. 2005: Marty the Martlet is chosen as the official kilt-wearing mascot of both the McGill Redmen and Martlet teams by a student vote. He was officially unveiled at the 2005 Redmen football homecoming game.
  9. 2005-2006: The McGill administration cancelled the last two games of the Redmen football season following public revelations of inappropriate hazing that younger members of the team had been subjected to. The team struggled in the seasons following their suspension, winning a total of only three games from 2007 until 2011, including four winless seasons.
  10. 2012: The Montreal Impact joins Major League Soccer and become Montreal’s first top-tier soccer franchise. The Impact has won two CONCACAF Champions League-qualifying Canadian Championships in the last two seasons, representing Canada in both competitions. The squad has been key in growing the sport both within Québec and Canada as a whole.

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