Hockey is one of the roughest, fastest, and hardest hitting sports on the planet. Players dart around the ice at speeds approaching 30-mph engaging in thunderous collisions that rattle brains and break bones. The blood-thirsty crowds always rise to their feet in anticipation at the first sign of fisticuffs. It was like that even before hockey teams began to compete for the Stanley Cup.
The NHL formed in 1917 with four teams. Nearly one-hundred years later, the NHL boasts 30 teams and expansion is imminent. That’s not to say that the NHL hasn’t seen its fair share of failures. Several franchises have folded or had to relocate and it has endured many scandals. These ingredients have made for a rich history filled with interesting characters, epic rivalries, and incredible stories. Lots of incredible stories. Some so incredible that the legitimacy of those stories are in need of verification. Is it fact or is it an urban legend? These stories have been told and repeated so many times that they are taken as fact. Don’t believe it when someone claims that Wayne Gretzky holds the record for most goals in a single game. Or, that no women have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup. There are countless myths and misconceptions. Here are the Top 12 craziest NHL urban legends.
12 Ulf Samuelsson Ended Cam Neely’s career
Ulf Samuelsson is one of the most vilified players in league history. The Swedish defenseman was known for his dirty play and his cheap-shot artistry. His most memorable play was his vicious knee-on-knee hit of Boston Bruins star Cam Neely during game 3 of 1991 Conference Finals. This is largely blamed for ending Neely’s career, but it isn’t that simple.
Neely played a very physical style, but according to Cam’s own medical professionals, it was an unrelated degenerative hip issue that would eventually bring an end to the Boston star’s career. He would attempt a comeback in 1998, but it was not to be.
11 Winning a Fight Boosts the Team’s Momentum
10 Jacques Plante was the First Goalie to Wear a Mask
9 The Original Six Were the First Teams in the NHL
8 Wayne Gretzky Never Fought
7 The Gordie Howe Hat-trick
6 A Team that Touches the Conference Championship Trophy Won’t Win the Stanley Cup
One of the first memorable occasions of a hockey player refusing to touch a conference championship trophy was when Eric Lindros wouldn’t even acknowledge the Prince of Wales Award in 1997. Did superstition pay off? No, “Big E” and the Flyers were swept by Detroit.
5 The ‘H’ in the Montreal Canadiens logo stands for ‘Habitants’
The Montreal Canadiens jersey sports one of the most recognizable logos in sports. The letter ‘C’ with the inlaid ‘H’ has been around for 100 years. A common belief is that the ‘H’ stands for ‘habs’ or ‘habitants’. The myth was propagated in 1920 when the owner of Madison Square Garden, Tex Rickard, told reporters that the ‘H’ stood for ‘habitants’. People bought the explanation and it has been generally taken as fact since.
There’s just one problem. It’s not true. The ‘H’ actually stands for ‘Hockey’. The design evolved when the Montreal organization changed their name from Canadiens Athletic Club (CAC) to Le Club de hockey Canadien. The new logo was pretty much identical to the old one except the ‘H’ for ‘hockey’ replaced the ‘A’ for ‘athletic’ in the center of the ‘C’.
4 Helmets Prevent Concussions
3 Nobody Really Gets Hurt in Hockey Fights
2 The Miracle on Ice Won the US Men’s Team the Gold Medal
1 The Majority of NHL Players are Canadian
Before the 1980s, Canadians accounted for over 80% of the NHL’s players. American's made up 12% while the Swedes had the third largest representation at 3%. By 1990, the American presence had grown to just over 17% while the Canadian cast fell to 74%. Throughout the 90s and the millennium, the NHL saw a steady decline in Canadian players. By the 2014-15 season, Canadians made up 51.8% while American players made up nearly 25%. Swedish players again ranked third, this time with 7.6%. The 2015-16 season has seen Canadians making up less than 50% of the leagues total players for the first time in history. The numbers of Swedes in the NHL continues to grow as do the number of Russians, Czechs, and Finnish players. American players remain a steady force at about 25%. It is true that Canadians still account for the largest number of players in the league, but they no longer make up the majority of all players.
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