The Sabres were in Montreal last night and I got to thinking about the game itself.  What’s the most important element of the game other than the players?  It’s the ice.  At the beginning of a game the ice is clean and the players call it fast.  It’s smooth and hard allowing the players to skate, pass and shoot easily.  But as the period and game move along the ice gets rough.  The puck gets harder to pass – it bounces more, so the players start to play a little more careful, often making the safer play.

There really has been talk over the years of replacing real ice with some kind of artificial surface to make the game more consistent because ice varies from rink to rink.  In the NHL some buildings are notorious for having bad ice.  A survey of NHL players a few years ago rated Edmonton as having the best ice.  Teams in the south had the worst because of the high humidity.  Florida was dead last.  Buffalo was rated at 11th best. 

The ideal ice temperature for playing hockey is 16 degrees F.  Figure skaters prefer the ice slightly warmer – 22 degrees F because it gives them more control and is a little softer for their landings when they jump.

When hockey was first played they used just about anything that happened to be laying around….a piece of wood, a can, a rock.  The first indoor game was played with a ball, but it bounced around too much.  Somebody came up with the idea of cutting off the rounded edges – kinda like cutting the ball into thirds and they basically created what today is the hockey puck.   

The first rubber hockey puck made its debut in Montreal in 1875.