Hockey is one of the things that people most closely associate with Canada. It’s right up there with maple syrup and the maple leaf under ‘things you think about when you think of Canada’.
A CBC News report from 2013 confirmed that hockey is one the most popular sports in Canada, with 1,239,000 people over the age of 15 (of all genders) saying that they play ice hockey. The only sport that is played by more adults in Canada is golf, which is played by 5.2% of Canadian adults compared to ice hockey’s 4.4%.
But what is it that makes ice hockey so well-loved by Canucks?
The History of Hockey
Canada’s love of hockey partly stems from the fact that the great sport was (partly) created in this very country. British soldiers and other immigrants to Canada brought with them their stick and ball games; while these games may have been designed to be played on grass in warmer climes, the immigrants adapted the games to play them on ice and frozen lakes.
As the sport took off, in 1893, Canada introduced the Stanley Cup as an amateur championship before opening it up to professionals in 1906 and then to players in the United States in 1914.
Canada is incredibly proud of its hockey-playing history, with the Candian Museum of History hosting a hockey exhibition in 2017 to celebrate various historical aspects of the sport.
Canucks are also incredibly competitive when it comes to ice hockey, helped by the proliferation of local teams. The NHL (National Hockey League) includes seven Canadian teams overall: the Vancouver Canucks, the Edmonton Oilers, the Calgary Flames, the Winnipeg Jets, the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are +600 in the latest NHL betting odds for the Eastern Conference. Just over 80% of Canadians watch ice hockey every week, according to a survey conducted in 2010.
Fans will regularly discuss their team’s best strategy as well as who the most effective players are. While spirits can run high, that’s just part of the joy of being an ice hockey fan.
Great for Tourists
It’s not just the locals who love ice hockey, however. Ice hockey is also kept popular by the many tourists who visit the country each year. Visiting an ice hockey game in person is one of the most highly recommended activities to do when taking a trip to Canada. Even with minimal hockey knowledge, tourists soon get sucked into the competitive fun too!
Combined with the local history of the sport (e.g. that exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History) and there are plenty of opportunities for people from out-of-town to learn more about and to enjoy the sport.
Canada has such a long and rich history with ice hockey and it is embedded in the country’s culture. Canada may be synonymous with the sport (it is also the national winter sport) but this country has every reason to be proud of that.