1908 When the Ontario Professional Hockey League was created in 1908, Canada adopted professional hockey. By that point, Canada had established itself as the global center of hockey. The OPHL became one of the most successful leagues in North American sports, attracting many top international players who were looking for alternative seasons to earn a living.
Hockey has its origins in England and Germany, but it is in Canada that it has become one of the world's most popular sports. In the early years there was not much difference between the different varieties of ice hockey, but over time the rules changed to make the game more offensive-minded. This led to the development of "high-speed" hockey, which is the version we know today from Canada.
Canada's national sport was born when several independent organizations began holding winter games around 1875. The first official "national" championship was held in 1890, with Montreal's Royal Albert Edward Club defeating a team from Toronto's Victoria club by a score of 3-1. Today, the Canadian Hockey Association (CHA) is the only organization licensed by the NHL to hold national championships. It runs the annual National Hockey League (NHL) Cup tournament, which this year featured Vancouver winning its second title in three years over Ottawa's league-leading team.
The National Hockey League (NHL) was created in Montreal in 1917, and by 1926, it had absorbed the majority of the other leagues and held sole control of the Stanley Cup. Until the late 1880s, when a Montreal business began making hockey sticks, most players manufactured their own. The first commercially made stick was probably sold by Eddie Livingstone of Montreal. He hired American Joe Sullivan to design a better stick and offered them for sale under the name "Livingstone".
Sullivan's stick design proved popular and enabled the business to grow. In 1920, they produced a stick that became known as the "Sugar" line due to its distinctive black and white color scheme. In 1937, they introduced an all-synthetic stick called the "Flexible" which became very popular and has remained so ever since.
Today, some sticks are even designed specifically for use by one player and then discarded when he changes teams, allowing him to have a new one each season. These are called "trade-ins" or "warm bodies."
The modern hockey stick is a product of Canadian woodworker George Armstrong (1877-1957). He patented his design in 1910 and it became widely used following the introduction of the NHL in 1926. Before that time, players usually used ash or maple trees for their sticks.
The Canadiens were founded in 1909 as one of the founding clubs of the National Hockey Association, the NHL's antecedent (which was formed in 1917). In the 1915-16 season, the Canadiens won their first Stanley Cup, triumphing in a dramatic five-game series against the Portland Winterhawks (Ore.) of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Playing with just eight players for most of the series, the Habs overcame two 3-0 deficits and three overtime losses to win it all.
In 1920, after four seasons in the league, the Canadiens left to join what would become today's New York Rangers. The next year, the Ottawa Senators moved to Montreal and took over the franchise rights. But they didn't play a game until the 1926-27 season when they defeated the Rangers 4-3 in a double-overtime playoff game at home. The Canadiens have been playing in the NHL ever since.
In 1939-40, during World War II, hockey was cancelled due to lack of players and fans. When the war was over, the Canadiens were back in the league. And they've been winning ever since!
Currently, the Canadiens are the most successful team in the history of the NHL. They have 12 Lord Stanley's trophies, more than any other team. Their record is 594-255-113 (.724 wins percentage).