The History of the Hockey Puck
People often inquire about hockey history, but not often do people learn about the history of the pieces that make a sport what it is. Most of you know who invented hockey, or even where it was originated, but do you ever stop and think about the puck?
The history of the word puck can be traced back to pouke in the 1300’s with the Old English meaning of the word devil and later the verb to poke. In Shakespeare’s Mr. Robin Goodfellow, the puck was a mischievous witty spirit in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” who was constantly getting into trouble, by “poking people the wrong way” if you may. So the word “puck” we know now literally came from the old English word to poke.
The first hockey pucks were made from wood and cut from the branches of trees. Before the modern day puck was invented in 1860, hockey players had been using a Hurley ball, which was uncontrollable and cumbersome on the ice due to it bouncing all over the ice. Also man y times a block of wood was used when the Hurley ball was not available, this alone brought about its own set of issues. However depending on your source of information some would claim that in 1875, students at Boston University sliced a rubber ball in half to make a puck. Another version places its origination in Montreal Quebec, Canada. Victoria Rink owner of one of the first indoor ice rinks (where the terminology originates) allegedly sliced a rubber ball in half. In any case, the first “recorded” use of a flat disk was in Montreal in March 1875.
In the early years of hockey history, pucks were made by gluing two pieces of rubber together many times made from recycled tires. Because of the way they were constructed, the pucks could split when they hit the goal post. During the 1931 and 1932 seasons, a puck with sloped, beveled edges was used. Midway through the season complaints by players and teams had escalated so, that it led to the return of the original design of the puck.
Though there was really no official professional puck until the 1990-1991 season, the basic design from the early 1900s remained basically the same. Today hockey pucks are flat, solid, black disk shaped objects made from vulcanized rubber. Regulation National Hockey League pucks are black and are 3 inches in diameter, 1 inch thick and weighing 5 or 6 ounces. On the edges a series of diamond shape slightly raised bumps have been molded to it. The diamonds give a taped hockey stick something to grip on to when the puck is shot. The design of NHL regulation pucks were regularized in 1940 by Art Ross. Although pucks remained basically the same from the way they were originally designed, Ross’s innovations made a puck that was easy to manufacture and acted with better consistency when used in play.
Hockey is one of the few sports that through the years have not deviated much from its original form thus making it still to this day one of the few rare pure sports. Keep hockey history alive and well!