Ice hockey, referred to simply as hockey in Canada, the United States, and most of Europe including Finland, Sweden, Russia and the Czech Republic is a team sport played on ice. It is one of the world's fastest sports, with players on skates capable of going high speeds on natural or artificial ice surfaces. Though played on six continents, ice hockey, as a participatory and as a spectator sport, is most popular in nations in which the climate is sufficiently cold as to permit natural, long-term seasonal ice cover; Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, Russia, and the United States have dominated international competition, claiming 47 of the 48 gold and silver medals awarded in the men's and women's competitions at the Olympic Winter Games.
Ice hockey is one of the four major North American professional sports, represented at the highest level by the National Hockey League. It is the official national winter sport of Canada, where seven of the 30 NHL franchises are based; Canadian-born players, though, outnumber American-born players in the NHL by a factor of three (30 per cent, additionally, come from outside North America).
The sport is played on a hockey rink. During normal play, there are six players, five positional players and one goaltender, per team on the ice at any time, each of whom is on ice skates. The objective of the game is to score goals by shooting a hard vulcanized rubber disc, the puck, into the opponent's goal net, with the goal nets placed at opposite ends of the rink. The players may control the puck using a long stick with a blade that is commonly curved at one end. Players may also generally redirect the puck with any part of their bodies, but the kicking of the puck into the goal is prohibited.
Jacques Plante (born January 17, 1929 in Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel, Quebec; died February 27, 1986 in Sierre, Switzerland) was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender. He played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1953 to 1963, winning the Stanley Cup six times, of which five were all in a row. He first retired in 1965, yet he returned to play for the expansion St. Louis Blues in 1968. He was later traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1970, and to the Boston Bruins in 1973. He joined the World Hockey Association first as a coach and general manager for the Quebec Nordiques, then goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers. He finally retired from playing in 1975. Plante is considered one of the most important innovators in hockey. His most recognizable contribution is the goalie mask; he was not the first one to use it in a regular National Hockey League (NHL) game, as Clint Benedict use a crude leather one in 1929, but he was the first to use it on a regular basis. Plante was the first goaltender to regularly play the puck outside of his crease, thus aiding his defencemen. He also popularized the notion of goaltenders instructing his players from behind, as the goaltender usually has the best view of the game. Plante was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978. He died in Geneva, on February 27, 1986, after succumbing to a heart attack; he was already dying of stomach cancer. He was buried in Sierre. (more...)
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