Friday, December 31, 2010

Questions that arose while offline

I'm back from the finals of the Great Lakes Invitational hockey tournament in Detroit, where the University of Michigan bested Colorado College 6-5 in a sloppy, but dramatic, game. UM scored the first goal just half a minute into the game and later went up 2-0, then let Colorado College tie the game by the end of the first period. Trailing the Wolverines 4-3 entering the third period, the Tigers scored two goals to take a 5-4 lead and make the home fans squirm in their seats. But fickle Fortuna gave Michigan a pair of late goals, with six and four minutes left in the game, reversing the outcome and filling Joe Louis Arena with great joy and relief. Sports are such a strain on the soul.

While watching the game, several questions came up in conversation and no answers were available until I could get home and access the invaluable Wikipedia. So here, for no particular reason, are answers relating to a pair of random hockey questions:

* The Joe Louis Arena was constructed in 1979 and seats 20,000 spectators.

* We all know that the Original Six hockey teams in the NHL are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The next six? The Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Oakland Seals, and St. Louis Blues, who all joined for the 1967-68 season.

* The first indoor hockey game was played in -- are you ready for this? -- 1875, in Montreal. In one crucial respect, it was even the first true hockey game: the puck was invented just for this match! Hockey was still played with a ball, but there were concerns over spectator safety. So the ball was replaced by a flat block of wood that, it was reasoned, would stay down on the ice (on Thursday night, one puck flew high enough to clear the tall net at the end of the rink, to the complete astonishment of a young first-time spectator behind me).

Also surprising is learning that, while popular in New England, hockey wasn't much known in Canada at the time. Who would guess such a thing? And curling was invented in Scotland - all the great Canadian games turn out to be imports!


Ed Darrell said...

Is that a photograph, or a drawing -- and is it of the 1875 game?

Curious because the incandescent light wasn't made commercially viable until after 1879. So, assuming those to be electric lamps: Arc lamps? Do you know?

Now we're way, way offline.

Scott Hanley said...

There's a Wikipedia article for the Victoria Skating Rink, which indicates that it was initially illuminated by gas. Reportedly, it became the first electrified building in Canada, but that would have been later.

The ice was created naturally, through the simple expedient of introducing water into an unheated building during a Montreal winter. It appears that artificial rinks had already been invented in England, but didn't arrive in North America until the 1890's.

According to the metadata for the image, it's a composite photo from a match in 1893 at the same rink. I think it's a drawing done from a photograph, at a guess. The lighting couldn't have been bright enough for the slow films of the day, but the quality of the light falling on the ice looks photographic. Those washed-out highlights are typical of photographs, which have a smaller tonal range than the human eye. Except for blinding lights, people don't experience tonal contrast like that.

On the other hand, only the nearby spectators show any detail; the rest of the people are portrayed with vague shapes and bright blank ovals to represent faces. So I think it's a drawing, but working from some photographic help.

James Hanley said...

Thanks for the answers. I'm not surprised Philly and St. Louis were in the first expansion, although I'm surprised it was so late. Pittsburgh surprises me a little, and L.A. would really surprise me as an entrant in the first expansion except that, as noted, it happened so much later than I would have expected (I would have wagered Philly and St. Louis in the league since the '40s or '50s.)