Another Season of Skatey-stick
was the ice and skates, with many of the rules being the same including the use of the “bully.” “Bullying” was far distant from today’s definition, meaning opposing centers would meet at center ice and bang their sticks together three times before touching the puck to initiate play. The modern faceoff, as we know it, was introduced in 1913 and some believe this important rule change was one of the first demonstrations of anti-bullying and to this day we are concerned about bullying in hockey.
A year before the faceoff was adopted, there was another major change that is still in effect to this day: the number of players on the ice. The seven players allowed on the ice included the goalie, two defencemen, three forwards and a seventh player who was a “rover” between defence and forward. At that time, the “bench” was only one or two players, so the strategy was to have the rover stay on the ice but resting after a rush. With both sides using the same strategy, it was obvious a change should be made. I have played many outdoor shinny games where there were as many as 20 players a side. They ranged in age from five to 75 years of age without team colours and it was magic. I do not see the NHL adopting that change…hmm maybe for overtimes. Even back in the early days, equipment improvements were a factor in some rule adaptations. As a result, the modern version continues to improve. Up until the 1917 season, goaltenders were not allowed to drop to the ice while making a save. If they did, they were penalized for the infraction. This major rule change not only improved the game immensely, it now allowed goalies to still be “stand-up” guys while dropping to their knees to make the save. I know a lot of goalies who are still stand-up guys… perhaps a little crazy, but still stand-up guys. Crazy comes with being a goalie.
The 1911 season saw a change that is still as much a part of hockey as sticks and skates. That was when they divided the hour-long game into three 20 minute periods. Up until then, the game was two periods of 30 minutes, with enough time at halftime for a coffee and a cigar. Sadly, there was no halftime show or wardrobe malfunctions. My old-timer’s hockey begins this week and I doubt if there will be any rule changes to speak of, but there will be one rule that will remain the same for us old guys, as it should for the youngsters.
Just have fun!