10 things you didn’t know about hockey

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1. This year marks a new era in the NHL. As part of the league’s conference realignment, the Winnipeg Jets are back in the Western Conference after a 17-year absence, and the Detroit Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference after a 20-year stint in the West.

2. There are also new rules in the NHL introducing hybrid icing and restricting the size of goalie pads. These are designed to increase scoring and player safety. In addition, players are now being penalized for taking off their helmets when fighting, as concerns about brain injuries have increased. Last year’s most penalized team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as the perennially tough Philadelphia Flyers will have to adjust to the new rules if they want to succeed.

3. The average NHL player travels at over 20 mph in most game situations. The fastest players often top-out above 30 mph on a daily basis. To give some perspective, Usain Bolt has never sprinted above 27.79 mph. But if you think that’s fast, just wait till you hear how fast the …

4. … World Record for hardest slap shot is. The rocket shot clocked in at an astounding 114.13 mph and occurred at the 2012 KHL All Star Game Skills competition in Latvia. The hardest shot ever recorded in the NHL came off Boston Bruin Zdeno Chara’s 108.8 mph shot. He also happens to be the tallest NHLer, standing 6 feet and 9 inches tall …

5. … In contrast, current Caroline Hurricanes left winger Nathan Gerbe holds the honour of shortest active player in the NHL. The Michigan native stands at 5’5”, which hasn’t held him back from scrapping with the local giant, Chara, himself. Gerbe also holds the distinction of having scored two goals in five seconds against the New York Islanders, proving that size doesn’t matter

6. Since 2008, the NHL has held outdoor games every season. Teams have faced off at Fenway Park (Boston), Ralph Wilson Stadium (Buffalo), Wrigley Field (Chicago), Heinz Field (Pittsburgh), and Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia). These Winter Classic games routinely draw crowds of upwards of 40,000 fans willing to brave the elements to enjoy their favourite sport in its purest form. But that doesn’t compare to the crowd that showed up for…

7. … The Big Chill at the Big House. On Dec. 11th 2010, Michigan took on rival Michigan State in the NCAA in what is considered the largest attended hockey game in history. Over 110,000 fans were at the game and saw current New York Rangers winger Carl Hagelin score two powerplay goals to lead Michigan to a convincing 5-0 victory over the Spartans.

8. In June, the Stanley Cup will be handed out for the 86th time in the NHL era. 2004-2005 was the only season Lord Stanley was not awarded, as the season was cancelled due to the player lockout. Weighing in at 35 pounds, the Stanley Cup is one of the heaviest and most recognizable trophies in all of sports and was once hoisted by…

9.  McGill alumnus Mike Babcock in 2008 when he coached the Detroit Red Wings all the way to the Stanley Cup. Babcock was not the first former Redmen to win the Cup, as Lester Patrick guided the New York Rangers to glory in 1933. In 2010, Babcock won gold with Team Canada in Vancouver, finally bringing Olympic hockey gold back to Canada. In high-pressure games, Babcock is often seen sporting his lucky McGill tie behind the bench.

10. Canadians make up 52.6 per cent of all players in the NHL, which includes about 363 players on current NHL active rosters.Twenty-eight out of the 58 rookies in the league this year are Canadian. Roughly 600,000 males register with Hockey Canada every year. Taking age into consideration, a young Canadian male’s chances of playing at least one NHL game are one in 4,100.