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.
The New Jersey Devils are a professional ice hockey team based in Newark, New Jersey. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League. The Devils have won the Stanley Cup three times, in 1995, 2000, and 2003. The club was founded in Kansas City, Missouri in 1974, moved to Denver, Colorado after only two seasons, and then settled in New Jersey in 1982. Under current general manager Lou Lamoriello, the Devils have made the playoffs in 17 out of 19 seasons, including each of the last 10. Since their move to New Jersey, the Devils have played their home games at the Continental Airlines Arena. They have rivalries with their trans-Hudson neighbor, the New York Rangers, and with the Philadelphia Flyers, as either the Devils or Flyers have won the Atlantic Division title every season since 1995. (more...)
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