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.
Howie Morenz (June 21, 1902 – March 8, 1937) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. He played centre for the Montreal Canadiens (in two stints), the Chicago Black Hawks, and the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL). Prior to joining the NHL, Morenz excelled in the junior Ontario Hockey Association, winning the Memorial Cup, the championship for junior ice hockey in Canada. Once in the NHL, he became one of the most dominant players in the league, setting several league scoring records. Considered one of the first stars of the NHL, Morenz played fourteen seasons in the league. He was a member of a Stanley Cup winning team three times, all with the Canadiens. Morenz consistently finished near the top of league scoring, placing in the top ten leading scorers ten times in his fourteen seasons. For seven straight seasons, Morenz led the Canadiens in both goals scored and points. Three times in his career Morenz was named the most valuable player of the league, and he led the league in goals scored once and points scored twice. He was named to the NHL All-Star Team three times. Morenz died from complications of a broken leg, an injury he suffered in a game. After his death, the Canadiens removed his jersey number from circulation, the first time the team had done so. When the Hockey Hall of Fame opened in 1945, Morenz was one of the original twelve inductees. In 1950 the Canadian Press named Morenz the best ice hockey player of the first half of the twentieth century. (more...)
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