ice hockey

ice hockey
a game played on ice between two teams of six skaters each, the object being to score goals by shooting a puck into the opponents' cage using a stick with a wooden blade set at an obtuse angle to the shaft.

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Game played on an ice rink by two teams of six players on skates.

The object is to drive a puck (a small, hard rubber disk) into the opponents' goal with a hockey stick, thus scoring one point. A game consists of three 20-minute periods. The first true ice-hockey game was played in 1875 between two student teams at Montreal's McGill University. The National Hockey League, consisting of U.S. and Canadian professional teams, was organized in 1917. Hockey was introduced at the Olympic Games in 1920. It is a very aggressive game, and the puck is often taken from a player by means of a hit to the body, called a check. Some contact, such as checking from behind and slashing with the stick, is illegal and draws a penalty. See also Stanley Cup.

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▪ 2009


North America.
      Unique European bookends framed an eventful, compelling 2007–08 season for the National Hockey League (NHL). The league opened the season with a pair of games in London between the Anaheim Ducks—the defending Stanley Cup champions—and the Los Angeles Kings. The games, both sold out, were the first regular-season NHL contests to be played in Europe. The season ended with league commissioner Gary Bettman presenting the Stanley Cup to superb Swedish defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (Lidstrom, Nicklas ), whose Detroit Red Wings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins four games to two in the best-of-seven final. It was the first time that a European captain had led his team to an NHL championship. The season belonged to Detroit, which romped in the regular season, winning the President's Trophy as the NHL's top team and the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup in 11 seasons. The Red Wings had a record seven Swedes in their lineup, including Lidstrom, who won his sixth Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman.

      Ice hockey fans throughout the league were treated to the emergence of several young stars, a wave of talent that suggested that the NHL would be able to serve up an entertaining product for the foreseeable future. Washington Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin, arguably the NHL's most exciting player, turned the regular season into his own personal showcase and filled his trophy case as a result. The 22-year-old Russian topped the league in goals with 65 (well ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers' Ilya Kovalchuk, who had 52) and in points with 112, edging out fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins, who finished with 106. That earned Ovechkin the Maurice Richard Trophy for goal scoring and the Art Ross Trophy for points. He continued his hardware haul at the NHL awards gala, where he was presented with the Hart Trophy for being the best player in the league and the Lester B. Pearson Award for being the best player, as decided by fellow players.

       Sidney Crosby, the phenomenal 20-year-old Canadian, had another strong season and helped Pittsburgh emerge as a Stanley Cup finalist two seasons after it had finished 29th in the 30-team league. When Crosby missed 28 games with an ankle sprain midway through the season, however, it was Malkin, only 21 years old himself, who stepped up to keep the Penguins surging. During the games Crosby missed, Malkin recorded 20 goals and 26 assists for 46 points.

      Other clubs, such as Montreal, Washington, Philadelphia, and Chicago, made huge strides owing largely to the contributions of young talent. Montreal, with stellar play from rookie goaltender Carey Price, surprised many with a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference. Washington jumped to 3rd place in the East from 14th the previous season. Philadelphia moved from last in the entire league into a play-off spot. Chicago, in the play-offs only once in the previous decade, moved toward respectability with two of the NHL's top freshmen in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Kane was named the league's Rookie of the Year.

      While those teams climbed, one of the most dramatic falls belonged to the Ottawa Senators, who had been Stanley Cup finalists the previous season. The Senators started the season by winning 15 of their first 17 games and created expectations that they would win the East, but instead they fell apart, narrowly qualified for the play-offs, and were swept by Pittsburgh in the first round.

      One of the highlights of the season was an outdoor New Year's Day game played at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium between the hometown Sabres and the Penguins. It was the NHL's second regular-season game to be played in the elements and the first in the U.S. The game, played in periodic snow and won by the Penguins 2–1 in a shootout, attracted a crowd of 71,217, setting an NHL attendance record for a single game. The league planned to stage another outdoor game at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Jan. 1, 2009, featuring the Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks.

      A number of big-name players changed teams as free agents at season's end. Among the changes, Marian Hossa left Pittsburgh to sign with Detroit, Wade Redden jumped from Ottawa to play for the New York Rangers, and Brian Campbell departed San Jose for Chicago. The NHL also said goodbye to some stars. Dominik Hasek, one of the greatest goaltenders of the modern era, retired from Detroit. Trevor Linden (Vancouver), Glen Wesley (Carolina), Dallas Drake (Detroit), and Sami Kapanen (Philadelphia) also hung up their skates. Jaromir Jagr, who led the NHL in scoring five times during a brilliant career, departed the Rangers to sign with Russian team Avangard Omsk. On a sad note, blossoming defensive prospect Luc Bourdon of the Vancouver Canucks died in an off-season motorcycle accident.

      Despite an ownership controversy in Nashville and a guilty plea by Anaheim owner Henry Samueli to a felony charge of lying to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the NHL continued to see revenues rise. That meant the salary cap for teams rose to $56.7 million from $50.3 million. The league's board of governors also discussed potential expansion, but no plan was put in place.

       Canada hosted the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world championship in men's hockey for the first time but could not take advantage of home ice to repeat as gold medalists. In a brilliantly played gold-medal match in Quebec City on May 18, 2008, Canada led historic rival Russia by two goals, 4–2, with just over 11 minutes remaining. The tremendously skilled Russians, however, came at their Canadian hosts in waves, and goals from Aleksey Tereshchenko and Ilya Kovalchuk pushed the game into overtime. In that extra time, Rick Nash, a hero in Canada for his scoring exploits at the previous year's tournament, received a delay-of-game penalty. During the subsequent power play, Kovalchuk rocketed a snapshot over Canadian goaltender Cam Ward to ignite an on-ice celebration.

      Canadian winger Dany Heatley scored 12 goals in nine games in the tournament and was named Most Valuable Player. He played on a line with Nash and Ryan Getzlaf that scored 21 goals in nine games and was a force for Canada throughout the tournament. Russia's Yevgeny Nabokov was named the top goaltender. Finland defeated Sweden 4–0 to win the bronze medal.

      It had been 15 years since the Russians last won a world championship. This tournament showed the depth of talent in Russia, as 14 of the gold medalists were players from Russian club teams rather than the NHL. Even Canadian fans had difficulty being too upset at the outcome. They had just witnessed an exhibition of hockey at the highest level, unfolding at high speed with tremendous playmaking. “It was such a spectacular match,” commented Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov. “The whole world won.”

      At the women's world championship, held in Harbin, China, the U.S. beat Canada 4–3 in the final on April 12. It was the second world title for the Americans as the Canadians could not match the speed and skill of their North American rivals. When the teams met earlier in the tournament, the U.S. won 4–2, and the Americans carried that momentum into the final. U.S. captain Natalie Darwitz was the scoring hero for the gold medalists. She had a pair of goals in the final and was named the top forward at the championship. Jenny Potter and Angela Ruggiero scored the other goals for the U.S., and goalie Jessie Vetter was outstanding for the winners. Sarah Vaillancourt, Jennifer Botterill, and Katie Weatherston scored Canada's goals. Finland won the bronze medal, beating Switzerland 4–1.

      At the IIHF under-20 tournament, staged in the Czech Republic, the Canadian teenagers did what the country's men's and women's teams could not: take home the gold medal, though they needed overtime to do it. Canada defeated Sweden 3–2 at the CEZ Arena in Pardubice when Matt Halischuk jammed in a goal in extra time. It was Canada's fourth consecutive championship at the junior level and its 14th in 26 years. Russia defeated the U.S. 4–2 to capture the bronze medal.

Paul Hunter

▪ 2008


North America.
 The National Hockey League (NHL) charted new territory during the 2006–07 season as the Stanley Cup was captured for the first time by a franchise based in California. Meanwhile, a teenaged phenomenon emerged as the face of the league.

      The Anaheim Ducks, an expansion team that entered the league in the 1993–94 season as the Disney-inspired Mighty Ducks, won the league championship with an impressive play-off performance that culminated in a victory over the Ottawa Senators by four games to one in the best-of-seven final series. In the clinching game, at Anaheim on June 6, 2007, the Ducks delighted a sellout crowd of 17,372 by using their tenacious defense, physical dominance, and timely scoring to cruise to a 6–2 victory. Ottawa managed only 13 shots on goal, the lowest total by any team in the season's 81 play-off games.

      Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim's smooth-skating defenseman, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the play-offs' most valuable player (MVP). It was the fourth time he had won the NHL championship, having captured three Stanley Cups with New Jersey, and the 33-year-old Canadian hinted afterward that he might retire. Not only was Niedermayer a significant part of the Anaheim victory, but he also helped to create one of the enduring images of the Ducks' on-ice celebration when, as team captain, he was presented with the championship trophy by league commissioner Gary Bettman. Niedermayer immediately turned and handed the Cup to his brother and teammate, Rob, as the Ducks began the traditional victory laps. It was the first time two brothers had shared in a Stanley Cup victory since Brent and Duane Sutter won together in 1983. A teary-eyed Teemu Selanne, long a fan favorite in the NHL, placed his hands on the Cup for the first time after having played in a storied 1,041 regular-season games in the league. Selanne, a star winger from Finland, also suggested that he might retire.

      While some of hockey's greats talked about leaving the game, the NHL's regular season was led by a blossoming new star. Sidney Crosby, a 19-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., became the youngest player to win the league's scoring title when he finished with 120 points in 79 games. The Pittsburgh Penguins' centre also won the Hart Trophy as the player judged to be the most valuable to his team and the Pearson Award, granted to the league's best performer as voted by the players. Crosby was not the only young skater to make a mark. Penguins' teammate Evgeni Malkin, who scored in his first six NHL games and went on to finish with 32 goals, was named the league's Rookie of the Year. Colorado's Paul Stastny set a rookie record during the season by recording points in 20 consecutive games. That eclipsed the mark of 16 established 26 years earlier by his father, Peter Stastny. The development of young stars, particularly a marketable player such as Crosby, was hugely significant to a league still trying to make inroads into an often-unreceptive American audience (as continuing low television ratings would suggest). Another rookie made headlines in dramatic fashion: Boston Bruins forward Phil Kessel was diagnosed in December 2006 with testicular cancer, but he had surgery and returned in January to finish the season. He was awarded the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication.

      Off the ice, league revenues rose—allowing the cap on team player salaries to rise from $44 million in 2006–07 to $50.3 million for 2007–08. Questions arose, however, about the future of the Nashville Predators franchise after owner Craig Leipold said that he had lost $70 million on the team since he acquired the franchise in 1997. He wanted to sell the Predators, which raised the possibility that the team might be relocated. Earlier there had been doubts about the viability of the Penguins' remaining in Pittsburgh, but a new arena deal there solidified the franchise for the immediate future.

      Some big-name stars were also on the move as free agents once the season had come to an end. Among them, Scott Gomez left New Jersey to sign with the New York Rangers, and Ryan Smyth moved from the New York Islanders to the Colorado Avalanche. Buffalo, the league's top team during the regular season, with 113 points, lost two of its top three scorers when Chris Drury departed to join the Rangers and Daniel Briere left for Philadelphia.

      There was also turmoil in the office of the National Hockey League Players' Association. Executive director Ted Saskin, his leadership already in dispute, was fired when it was alleged that he was accessing the private e-mail accounts of some union members.

      The hockey world had a decidedly red and white hue in 2007 as Canada won the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world championships at the senior men's, women's, and junior (under-20) levels.

      The Canadian men's team, with an average age of 25, was the youngest contingent the country had ever sent to the IIHF championship. There were doubts in the hockey-mad country about the squad's ability to score, but Team Canada went undefeated in its nine games during the tournament, finishing its impressive run on May 13 with a 4–2 victory over Finland in the gold medal match. It was Canada's third men's championship in five years. In the final game, in Moscow's Khodynka Arena, Canada jumped to a 3–0 lead on goals from Rick Nash (of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets), Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes), and Colby Armstrong (Pittsburgh Penguins), but the Finns fought back with third-period goals by Petri Kontiola and Antti Miettinen (Dallas Stars). With just over a minute remaining, Canada's lead cut to 3–2, and the championship in doubt, Nash, the tournament MVP, put an emphatic exclamation point on the victory with a spectacular breakaway effort for his second goal of the game. Finland's Kari Lehtonen (Atlanta Thrashers) was named the tournament's top goaltender. Russia won the bronze medal with a 3–1 win over Sweden. Two Russian players won awards as Andrei Markov, on loan from the NHL Montreal Canadiens, got the nod as the top defenseman and Aleksey Morozov was named the top forward. The U.S. was eliminated in the quarterfinals, losing 5–4 to Finland when Jere Lehtinen (Dallas Stars) beat American goaltender John Grahame (Carolina Hurricanes) in the penalty-shot contest. The U.S. finished fifth in the tournament.

      At the women's world championship, staged in Winnipeg, Man., the Canadians beat the U.S. 5–1 in the final on April 10, 2007, to capture their ninth title in the tournament's 10-year history. (The Canadian victory avenged a loss to the Americans in the gold medal match in Sweden in 2005, the last time the championship was held.) For the 2007 final some 15,000 fans were on hand when Canada broke open a scoreless game with three goals in the second period and then cruised to the win. Team captain Hayley Wickenheiser, often acknowledged as the best woman player in the world, scored one of those goals, her tournament-leading eighth. She finished with 14 points in the tournament, a record for a Canadian woman, and was named the MVP as well as top forward. American Molly Engstrom was designated the top defender at the championship, while Noora Raty of Finland was selected as the best goaltender. Sweden won the bronze medal with a 1–0 victory over Finland.

      At the IIHF under-20 tournament, Canada continued its dominance with a 4–2 win over Russia in the final, played in Leksand, Swed., on January 5. The Canadians jumped to a big lead late in the first period, scoring three goals in less than three minutes, and then held on for their third consecutive junior championship. The Canadian squad was not overly deep offensively—it barely squeaked by the Americans in a 2–1 shoot-out victory in the semifinal—but the Canadians allowed only seven goals in their six games of the tournament. That outstanding defensive record was largely credited to the stellar goaltending of Carey Price, a Montreal Canadiens' prospect, who was named the tournament MVP. The U.S. secured the bronze medal with a 2–1 win over Sweden on the strength of goals from Patrick Kane and Erik Johnson.

Paul Hunter

▪ 2007


North America.
 With a remarkable comeback season that boosted enthusiasm for nearly all its 30 franchises, the National Hockey League (NHL) adopted a radical set of rule changes for 2005–06 that increased scoring, raised revenue to $2.1 billion, and boosted attendance to an average of 16,955 fans per game. Under the new rules hooking, holding, tripping, slashing, cross-checking, and interference were penalized. So was the use of a player's stick or free hand to impede an opponent. Speed and skill thereby returned to the game, creating thrilling contests and enabling seven players to achieve a 100-point season. (None managed that total in 2003–04.) No fewer than 584 games were marked by lead changes, up from 451, and hat tricks rose from 46 to 79. The NHL also pleased a majority of fans by ruling that the outcome of tie games would be decided by a shoot-out if the score was deadlocked after 60 minutes of regulation time followed by five minutes of 4-on-4 overtime. One other move that put more scoring in the game came with a reduction in the size of goaltenders' leg pads, catching gloves, blockers, and jerseys. The NHL won further applause when its small-market teams competed measure for measure with rival clubs that had larger payrolls.

      The NHL hardly made a complete comeback, however, as it suffered exceedingly poor television ratings all season. The NHL play-offs were carried by the Outdoor Life Network (OLN), a cable channel better known for its coverage of the Tour de France and its hunting and fishing programs. Both OLN and NBC suffered the embarrassment of NHL play-off ratings smaller than those of poker and bowling telecasts. The average Nielsen rating of NHL regular-season games carried by OLN was 0.2—an estimated audience of 117,000. The national contract with OLN enriched NHL teams only about $2 million each, compared with the $100 million a year that television delivered to teams in the National Football League.

      Carolina won its first Stanley Cup on June 19, 2006, with a 3–1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Raleigh, N.C., that gave the Hurricanes the series four games to three. The final game was an intense matchup dominated by the Carolina defense and had the hometown crowd of 18,978 on its feet from start to finish. Cam Ward, the Hurricanes' rookie goalkeeper, was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player (MVP) of the NHL postseason. In the opening game of the series two weeks earlier, the Hurricanes had equaled the biggest comeback in Stanley Cup history to overcome a three-goal deficit midway through the second period for a 5–4 victory. Conversely, the opener was a huge misfortune for the Oilers, who lost their goalie, Dwayne Roloson, to a season-ending knee injury.

      In the 82-game season preceding the play-offs, the Detroit Red Wings led the league in victories (58) and points (124) to capture their division by an 18-point margin over Nashville (49 wins). Ottawa (113 points), Carolina and Dallas (112 each), Calgary (103), and New Jersey (101) were the other division champions advancing to the 16-team play-offs. Edmonton reached the Stanley Cup final by beating Detroit and San Jose four games to two each and then defeating Anaheim four games to one in the Western Conference final. Carolina beat Montreal four games to two and New Jersey four games to one before taking the Eastern Conference title over Buffalo four games to three.

      Ice hockey took to the world stage in mid-February but generated only lukewarm fan enthusiasm during its 11-day run at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. The men's final was a Nordic matchup in which Sweden overcame a sloppy first period to win its second Olympic gold medal with a 3–2 victory over Finland. Sweden's game-winning goal came off the stick of NHL Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom 10 seconds into the final period. Lidstrom's shot sailed over the right shoulder of Finnish goaltender Antero Niittymaki, relegating the Finns, who allowed only eight goals the entire tournament, to silver medal status after their only loss of the Games. Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall, who also played for the Red Wings, scored a second-period power-play goal each after Finland's Kimmo Timonen opened the scoring on a power-play goal in the first period. Ville Peltonen squared the score at 2–2 after 15 minutes of play in the second period when he backhanded a shot past Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Czech Republic took the bronze medal with a 3–0 shutout of Russia.

       Canada, the defending Olympic men's champion, was shut out three times in six games and was ousted by Russia 2–0 in a quarterfinal matchup. The Canadians played poor defense and never scored once in eight power-play situations. The United States finished with a 1–4–1 record, with four games decided by a single goal, and was knocked out of medal contention in a 4–3 quarterfinal loss to Finland. The tournament all-star team, selected by the media, included Niittymaki in goal—the Philadelphia Flyers' rookie posted a 5–1–0 mark with four shutouts and was voted tournament MVP.

      Team Canada did capture the women's gold medal, however, with a 4–1 victory over Sweden, while the U.S. women blanked Finland 4–0 for the bronze medal. The U.S. team got a hat trick from Katie King, a three-time Olympian, and a shutout from goaltender Chanda Gunn. With the victory the U.S. women maintained their record of having won a medal in every competition since women's ice hockey was added as an Olympic sport in 1998. Canadian Hayley Wickenheiser, playing in her third Winter Olympics, was the tournament MVP.

      At the men's International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world championship, held in Riga, Latvia, in May, Sweden shut out the Czech Republic 4–0 to become the first county to win both the Olympic and IIHF gold medals in the same year. Sweden's Kronwall was named the tournament MVP. Finland trounced Canada 5–0 for the bronze. Canada won the world under-20 ice hockey championships for the second straight year, routing the Russians 5–0 in January in Vancouver. Justin Pogge, the Canadian goaltender who fended off 35 shots on goal, was the tournament MVP. Finland took the bronze medal by defeating the U.S. 4–2.

Ron Reid

▪ 2006


North America.
      For the severely troubled National Hockey League (NHL), the unplayed season of 2004–05 was the most worrisome in its 87-year history. In what long had been an economic certainty, owners throughout the league began a lockout of their players at midnight on Sept. 15, 2004, when the collective-bargaining agreement with the players' union ran out. Over the next 41/2 months and through sporadic negotiations between management and the union, the two sides remained $6.5 million apart on the owners' quest for a salary cap, the issue that stalemated negotiations until the 11th hour. With 20 of the league's 30 franchises claiming to have lost money and player salaries at an all-time-high average of $1,830,126, the deadlock induced NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to cancel the 2004–05 season on Feb. 16, 2005.

      By that time the lockout had cost the NHL more than 900 games and an exodus of players who signed with European teams or minor league clubs in the U.S. The cancellation was the second in 10 years on Bettman's watch, and it left the NHL with the dubious honour of becoming the first North American professional sports league to cancel an entire season. It also eliminated the Stanley Cup play-offs, historically the most compelling segment of the season for NHL fans.

      The future loomed even worse for the NHL because the canceled season generated hardly a blip of protest, outrage, or media reaction outside Canada. Critics of the NHL and its players pointed out that the league's television ratings had fallen to infomercial status in the U.S., chiefly because rule changes and defensive-oriented coaches had robbed the game of much of its excitement. Rule changes that favoured mucking, grinding, trapping defensive play increased fan boredom through a succession of low-scoring games. Nor did it help scoring that goalie pads had grown ever bigger and bulkier over time. Since the cost of attending an NHL game could easily reach $300 for a family of four, diminished attendance was the logical outcome of boring contests.

      Bettman drew heavy criticism for putting the season on ice, as did Bob Goodenow, the dogmatic executive director of the NHL Players' Association. Goodenow repeatedly refused to compromise on the salary cap issue until there was time sufficient only for a 28-game season. The union then came up with a cap number—$52 million per team—and a 24% salary rollback, but neither offer satisfied the team owners. In the wake of the cancellation, team officials, players, and season-ticket holders pondered what the future would hold for the NHL. No reasonable person expected the league to operate as it had in previous seasons. That assessment was virtually guaranteed on June 1, when the cable television network ESPN called off negotiations with the NHL, saying that even if a new labour contract could be reached and play resumed in October, ice hockey was not worth half the $60 million the network paid for rights fees in 2003–04. ESPN's decision not to pick up its $60 million option for 2005–06 left the NHL without a national television partner for the first time since the late 1970s. The NHL also lost a valuable corporate owner when the Walt Disney Co. sold the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for roughly $75 million on June 16. Disney had bought the team as an expansion franchise in 1992 for $50 million.

      In July the 301-day lockout ended after players and owners agreed to a new contract. Highlights of the six-year deal included a 24% rollback of players' salaries and an initial salary cap of $39 million per team. The NHL also announced rule changes designed to create a more exciting game. Among the notable changes was the introduction of a shoot-out to decide regular-season games that were still tied after an overtime period. In August the NHL reached a television agreement with the cable network OLN. The three-year deal was worth more than $200 million.

      Given the absence of NHL games, some fans turned to competition provided by the American Hockey League (AHL), whose Philadelphia Phantoms franchise captured the AHL Calder Cup title with a 5–2 victory over the Chicago Wolves on June 10. The Phantoms' triumph clinched the final series four games to none and gave the team its second AHL title since 1998. The Phantoms got two goals each from centre John Sim and left wing Patrick Sharp, while Antero Niittymaki, the team's goalkeeper, made 28 saves. Niittymaki stopped 132 of Chicago's 136 shots on goal during the finals and was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the play-offs.

      In September Mark Messier, one of the most recognized figures in professional ice hockey, announced his retirement from the sport after having played 25 seasons in the NHL. The 44-year-old Messier won five Stanley Cups during his stint with the Edmonton Oilers from 1979 to 1991. He spent much of the remainder of his career with the New York Rangers and led the team to victory in the Stanley Cup finals in 1994. Messier's 1,887 regular-season points placed him second, behind Wayne Gretzky, on the NHL's all-time scoring list.

      The Czech Republic ended Canada's two-year hold on the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) championship on May 15, 2005, in Vienna. With flawless defense at the heart of a dominating performance, the Czechs powered to a 3–0 victory that denied Canada its 24th international gold medal. Earlier in the day, Russia had defeated Sweden 6–3 in the bronze-medal game.

 It was the first championship victory for the Czechs since 2001, and it marked the first shutout loss for Canada since an uncharacteristic 9–0 loss to Sweden in 1987. The tournament also brought a measure of revenge for the Czechs, whom the United States had eliminated in a quarterfinals shoot-out a year earlier in Prague. In 2005 it was the Czechs who beat the U.S. in the quarterfinals—in a shoot-out. Tomas Vokoun, hailed as the tournament's best goalkeeper, stopped 29 Canadian shots in the gold-medal final. The Czechs also got a standout performance from Jaromir Jagr, the five-time NHL scoring champion, who became one of only 15 players to have won the Stanley Cup and a gold medal in both the Olympic Games and the world championships.

      The Czechs got their first goal at 4:13 of the first period, when Vaclav Prospal knocked a rebound shot past Canadian goalie Martin Brodeur. Martin Rucinsky made it 2–0 at 3:12 of the third period, when his slap shot beat Brodeur to the glove side from the top of the left circle. Canada replaced Brodeur with an extra attacker during a last-minute power play, but the strategy backfired when Josef Vasicek fired a length-of-the-rink empty-net goal that sealed the Czech victory with 53 seconds left. Tournament MVP honours went to Canada's Joe Thornton, who led his team with 6 goals and 10 assists.

      In the IIHF women's world championships, contested at Linköping, Swed., in April, the U.S. settled an old score when it beat Canada in the gold-medal game for the first time in nine tries. The long-sought American victory came in a shoot-out—the first in the history of the tournament—after neither team could score through the first three periods and an overtime session. Natalie Darwitz, Angela Ruggiero, and Krissy Wendell each scored for Team USA in the shoot-out, while Canada got only one goal, from Sarah Vaillancourt. Chanda Gunn of the U.S. was named the tournament's top goaltender, while Wendell, the leading American scorer, received the MVP award.

Ron Reid

▪ 2005


North America.
      The National Hockey League (NHL) once again suffered through a season hurt by poor attendance, decreasing revenue, the lowest television ratings in five years, and a huge labour problem during 2003–04. The season ended with the NHL Players Association refusing to accept the idea of a salary cap or any system that would guarantee a percentage of revenue to the owners. With neither side willing to compromise on their positions, in September the owners locked out the players. When the 2004–05 season was scheduled to begin, on October 13, the lockout continued, and by year's end there seemed to be scant hope for salvaging any of the season.

      During a two-day meeting that began on June 11, several NHL players said that they might sign with the reborn World Hockey Association (WHA). Created in 1971, that league lasted seven seasons and gave the game coloured pucks, among other innovations—including a salary cap. The WHA hoped to begin a comeback season in 2005. Other NHL players signed on with European teams willing to allow them an escape clause when and if NHL operations returned to normal.

      The NHL also heard continued criticism for overemphasizing defense to the detriment of goal scoring, speed, and offensive excitement. Games too often decided by 2–1 or 1–0 scores were blamed for reduced attendance at a third of the NHL's arenas and for television ratings that remained the lowest of any U.S. major professional sport.

      In May the NHL signed a two-year, revenue-sharing contract with NBC and a one-year $60 million deal with ESPN. Under the NBC agreement, starting in January 2005, the network would televise seven regular-season games, six play-off games, and games three through seven of the Stanley Cup final series. The ESPN deal called for the cable network to air 40 games during the 2004–05 season, 30 fewer than ESPN and its sister station ESPN2 carried in 2003–04. ESPN also held an additional two-year option, at $70 million a year. Retaining TV exposure for his game was a coup for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, but neither agreement came close to the $120 million the NHL had made under the five-year contract it had with the ABC and ESPN networks, an agreement that ended after the 2004 Stanley Cup final.

      On the ice the NHL did enjoy a better competitive balance than it had shown in several years, however, owing to the ascent of Calgary and San Jose to the Western Conference finals and the resounding success of Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference. Anaheim and Minnesota, the Western Conference finalists of 2003, failed to make the play-offs in 2004, while New Jersey, the defending Stanley Cup champion, was ousted in the opening round of the play-offs.

      The seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals epitomized the NHL season as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Calgary Flames 2–1, with only 15 shots on goal, to take the series four games to three. Tampa Bay's first Stanley Cup was secured when Ruslan Fedotenko, the Lightning left wing, scored twice to raise his postseason total to 12 goals. Brad Richards, who assisted on the first Fedotenko goal, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the play-offs' Most Valuable Player (MVP). The Lightning's first championship season also brought Martin St. Louis the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer and the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league MVP. Tampa coach John Tortorella won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best coach.

      Among the teams that competed through the 82-game regular season, Detroit topped the standings with 48 victories and 109 points to win its division by an 18-point margin over St. Louis (39 victories). Tampa Bay (106 points), Boston (104), San Jose (104), Philadelphia (101), and Vancouver (101) were the other division champions that qualified for the 16-team play-offs. Tampa Bay moved into the Stanley Cup finals by beating the New York Islanders four games to one, Montreal four games to none, and Philadelphia four games to three to take the Eastern Conference championship. Calgary became the Western Conference Stanley Cup finalist by defeating Vancouver four games to three and then beating Detroit and San Jose, each by four games to two.

      In the 54th NHL All-Star game, which was played at breakneck speed on February 8 in St. Paul, Minn., the Eastern Conference All-Stars beat their rivals from the Western Conference 6–4. Colorado's Joe Sakic scored a hat trick (three goals) in a losing cause and was named the game's MVP. The New York Rangers' Mark Messier, at age 43, also turned in an outstanding effort in his final All-Star appearance, breaking an All-Star record with his 14th career assist and scoring a second-period goal.

      The 2004 season could hardly have been better for the international teams of Canada. For the second straight year, the Canadian men's team won the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world championship, coming back from an 0–2 deficit to defeat Sweden 5–3 on May 9 in Prague. On April 6 Canada captured the IIHF women's world championships at Halifax, N.S., by beating the U.S. 2–0 in the tournament's gold-medal game.

      The IIHF men's victory gave Canada its 23rd world title, equaling the total amassed by the Soviet Union/ Russia. Team Canada's Dany Heatley, a forward for the NHL Atlanta Thrashers, led the tournament scoring with eight goals and three assists in nine games and was named MVP. That performance marked a dramatic comeback for Heatley, who had suffered a broken jaw and severe knee injury in the September 2003 auto accident that took the life of his friend and Atlanta teammate Dan Snyder. In the gold-medal game, Heatley trapped the bouncing puck with his stick, raced down the right side of the Sazka Arena ice, and flicked the puck past Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist to pull Team Canada to within a goal of Sweden, at 3–2. With the score deadlocked at 3–3 early in the third period, Heatley once again shot down the right side and slipped a deft pass to Jay Bouwmeester, a defenseman for the NHL Florida Panthers, for an assist on the game-winning goal. A few minutes later Matt Cooke, of the NHL Vancouver Canucks, scored to ensure Canada's victory.

      The U.S. men took the bronze medal by beating Slovakia, in a penalty shoot-out, 1–0. Andy Roach, an American who had played the last four seasons for Mannheim in the unheralded German Elite League, won the game for the U.S. when his shot got past Jan Lasak, the Slovak goalie, on the third round of the shoot-out. It was only the second IIHF world championship medal won by a U.S. team since 1960. Earlier in the week the U.S. had earned an automatic berth in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. That happened when Finland defeated Russia to boost the U.S. into the tournament quarterfinals and thereby guarantee that the U.S. would be ranked among the world's top eight teams when the world championships ended.

      The Canadian women's victory brought them their eighth straight world title, each of which had come against their rivals from the U.S. Canada got the game's first goal when Hayley Wickenheiser's wrist shot beat Pam Dreyer, the U.S. goalkeeper, in the second period. Delaney Collins scored the second goal late in the third period when she pushed a loose puck past Dreyer. Canadian forward Jennifer Botterill led her team with three goals and eight assists and was named the MVP of the tournament, which set an all-time attendance record of 94,001. Finland defeated Sweden 3–2 to claim the bronze medal for the sixth time.

      On April 18 Russia won the IIHF under-18 championship for the first time in three seasons by beating the U.S. 3–2 in a penalty-filled gold-medal showdown. Russia's Dimitry Shitikov scored the game-winning goal on a third-period power play. Team USA finished with the tournament's best offense, outscoring its opposition 27–10 as Phil Kessel led the way with seven goals in six games. The gold-medal game was a thriller into its final minute. Team USA pulled its goalie and with a one-skater advantage appeared to score the game-tying goal with 13 seconds left, but the goal was ultimately waved off by the officials because the goal net was dislodged. The Czech Republic beat Canada 3–2 for the bronze medal, its second in three years. Canada had a six-on-four advantage in the dying moments of the game but could not even the score.

Ron Reid

▪ 2004


North America.
      The National Hockey League (NHL) experienced a season troubled by operating losses, labour uncertainty, and diminished television ratings during 2002–03. The game on the ice also lost some of its offensive excitement, speed, and scoring, despite the addition of a second referee to NHL officiating crews and an extensive, if futile, attempt to eliminate hooking and holding violations.

      Some observers blamed the decline in the number of goals scored on talent that had been diluted through expansion of the number of teams. A decade earlier, when the NHL was composed of 24 teams, the league could count on its rosters 14 players who scored 50 goals or more per season. In the 30-team NHL of 2002–03, only Milan Hejduk, the Czech right wing who played for Colorado, reached the 50-goal mark. Critics also pointed to NHL goalies outfitted in huge uniforms and bulky pads that left little space in goal for even the best shot makers.

      Given the defense-dominated games that caused TV ratings to plummet even in Canada, the NHL got a surprisingly dramatic windup to its season on June 9, 2003, when the New Jersey Devils beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 3–0 to win the Stanley Cup four games to three.

      The Devils' third NHL championship since 1995 owed much to a superb performance by goalie Martin Brodeur, who blocked 24 shots and broke Dominik Hasek's NHL record with his seventh shutout of the play-offs. Brodeur also held the Ducks scoreless in the first two games of the final series, each of which ended in a 3–0 Devils victory. The second game, on May 29, saw Brodeur become the first goalkeeper since Detroit's Terry Sawchuk in 1952 to record back-to-back shutouts in the Stanley Cup finals.

      Anaheim, the seventh-seeded team in the NHL Western Conference play-offs, had never previously survived the postseason competition beyond the second round. The Ducks refused to bow out quietly and took a page from the Devils' approach for a 3–2 victory in game three at Anaheim, Calif., on May 31. The Ducks got back into contention on the sterling effort of goalie Jean-Sébastien Giguère, who stopped 29 New Jersey shots and extended his streak of scoreless overtime to 166 minutes 4 seconds, an NHL record.

      The Ducks squared the series at two games each with another overtime triumph on June 2, when Steve Thomas, playing the first Stanley Cup series of his 19-season career, beat Brodeur with a rebound shot for the game's only goal. Giguère improved his scoreless overtime record to 168 minutes 27 seconds.

      The Devils rebounded on June 5 with a 6–3 victory that raised their record to 11–1 for play-off games on home ice. It was the Ducks' ninth consecutive loss at New Jersey's Continental Arena. Two nights later in Anaheim, the Ducks scored a 5–2 victory that left both teams battered, weary, and deadlocked at three games each.

      The decisive seventh game delivered the title to the Devils before an ecstatic sellout crowd of 19,040 at Continental Arena and completed a series in which the home team won every game. The Devils got their first goal from Mike Rupp, a 23-year-old rookie who had spent most of his season with Albany of the American Hockey League. Jeff Friesen, a former member of the Mighty Ducks who had gone to New Jersey in a 2002 trade, scored the other two goals. The Devils finished as the first team in 29 seasons to win the championship despite having had an overall losing record (4–7) for play-off games on the road.

      The Conn Smythe Trophy went to Giguère as the most valuable player (MVP) of the play-offs. The Ducks' goalie thus became only the fifth player from the losing team to win the award. Brodeur won the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goalie.

      Among the 30 teams that contested the 82-game regular season, Ottawa topped the NHL with 52 victories and 113 points and won its division by a 15-point margin over runner-up Toronto (44 victories). Dallas (111 points), Detroit (110), New Jersey (108), Colorado (105), and Tampa Bay (93) were the other division champions that moved on to the 16-team play-offs. New Jersey reached the Stanley Cup finals by beating Boston and Tampa Bay, each by four games to one, as a prelude to defeating Ottawa four games to three for the Eastern Conference championship. Anaheim made the Stanley Cup final series for the first time in NHL history, beating Detroit four games to none and Dallas four games to two before taking the Western Conference title four games to none over Minnesota.

      In the 53rd NHL All-Star game, played in Sunrise, Fla., on Feb. 2, 2003, the Western Conference players beat their rivals from the Eastern Conference 6–5 in overtime. Dany Heatley, the Atlanta rookie right wing, made a brilliant All-Star-game debut by scoring four goals for the East. He was named MVP after the game ended in a first-time Olympics-style shootout, which was won by the West 3–1.

      Canada added another major conquest to its storied ice hockey history on May 11, 2003, in Helsinki, Fin., where the Canadian men's team scored a 3–2 overtime victory over Sweden for the 2003 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world championship. The Canadian triumph came after a lengthy video-replay review of a goal scored by Anson Carter at 13 minutes 49 seconds of four-on-four overtime. It ended a spectacular game and brought the Canadians their 18th gold medal in world championship play since 1930.

      Sweden took a 2–0 lead on first-period goals by Mattias Tjarnqvist and Per-Johan Axelsson before Canada responded with a first-period goal by Shawn Horcoff and another in the third period from Shane Doan to set up Carter's closing act. The thrilling finish to the extraordinary overtime period began when Carter skated down the right side of the ice and sent a powerful slap shot sailing toward Mikael Tellqvist, the Swedish goalkeeper. Tellqvist partially blocked the shot with his glove, but when the puck fell to the side of the net, Carter got his rebound, spun to the left side of the cage, and fired the puck into the goal between Tellqvist's right pad and the goalpost. Carter raised both arms in the traditional sign of celebration, but the goal light did not go on until seven or eight minutes after the score. Referee Vladimir Sindler, who was not in position to make the call when Carter made his shot, signaled Canada's victory only after conferring with the video goal judge, who reviewed the play from seven different angles.

      Team Canada finished the tournament unbeaten, having compiled an 8–0–1 record. The Canadians profited from strong defensive play and the goaltending of Roberto Luongo, who was beaten for a power-play goal only once.

      Sweden was left with the silver medal, and Slovakia beat the Czech Republic 4–2 in the bronze-medal game. The United States was knocked out of medal contention and finished 13th. The 16-team tournament drew 454,693 fans.

      Canada also captured the under-18 world championship with a 3–0 victory over Slovakia on April 22 at Yaroslavl, Russia. Goalie Ryan Munce led the Canadian shutout victory with 25 saves. Canada reached the gold-medal game by beating the defending champion U.S. 2–1 in overtime on April 20.

      In Europe the Continental Cup produced one of the season's most thrilling games on January 12 when Jokerit Helsinki of Finland beat Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of Russia 2–1 in Lugano, Switz. The hard-fought game was ultimately decided by a shootout that followed an overtime period. The Finns' Jukka Voutilainen feinted Russian goalie Egor Podomatsky out of position to make the game-winning goal that gave his team the Cup and $53,344 in prize money. Earlier, first-period goals had been scored by Yury Butsayev of Lokomotiv, after 8 minutes 49 seconds, and Petri Pakaslahti of Jokerit, after 17 minutes 20 seconds.

      The 2003 IIHF world championship for women, scheduled to be contested in Beijing in April, was canceled because of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic in China. (See Health and Disease: Special Report (What's Next After SARS? ).)

Ron Reid

▪ 2003


North America.
      The Detroit Red Wings dominated the National Hockey League (NHL) from start to finish during 2001–02, highlighting a high-pressure season by winning the Stanley Cup for the third time in six years. With a $64.4 million payroll and a star-studded roster, Detroit was derided by some as “the best team money can buy.” The Red Wings were the oldest team in the league as well, with an average player age of about 31. None of those factors, however, prevented the team from storming through a season in which failure was never an option. The Red Wings were validated on June 13, 2002, when they beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3–1 to take the Stanley Cup finals four games to one.

      The victory brought Detroit its 10th Stanley Cup and stood as a milestone in the careers of Dominik Hasek, the Czech goalie signed by the Red Wings in June 2001, and head coach Scotty Bowman. It ended a prolonged quest for Hasek, an Olympic champion and six-time Vézina Trophy winner, who had played 678 games, including play-offs, before he won his first NHL title. Hasek had taken a pay cut to sign with Detroit, but it was offset considerably by the $1 million bonus he earned when Detroit defeated the Hurricanes, who scored only seven goals off Hasek in the five-game series. The victory gave Bowman his ninth Stanley Cup, one better than the former NHL record he shared with Toe Blake, his mentor at Montreal. Bowman announced his retirement moments after the game was over, then put on his skates to take one last victory lap with the Cup held high above his head. His résumé also included 1,224 regular-season victories, the highest total in NHL history.

      Bowman's coaching proficiency was evident in the superb teamwork he got all season long, from young players and veterans alike. Blessed with superior talent and a wealth of experience, the Red Wings put ego and nationality issues aside to blend into a team that played tough on defense and never lost its focus. Nicklas Lidstrom, a defenseman from Sweden who had played on Detroit's Stanley Cup championship teams in 1996–97 and 1997–98, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player (MVP) of the 2002 play-offs—the first European so honoured. Lidstrom scored five goals, including two game winners, and had 11 assists for 16 points in 23 play-off games.

      Lost in the outcome was the Carolina achievement of becoming the first 16th-seeded team in the play-offs to advance to the final series. It was an ironic success for a franchise that had compiled only three winning seasons in its 18-year existence as the Hartford Whalers before moving to Raleigh, N.C., in 1997. A frustrating close-checking Carolina defense limited Detroit to 14 goals in the series and sent all five games into the third period with the score tied or with one team leading by only one goal. It helped the Hurricanes win the opening game of the series 3–2 in overtime, but Detroit came back to capture game two 3–1. Game three ended in a 3–2 Detroit victory in triple overtime on Carolina's home ice, with 41-year-old Igor Larionov scoring the winning goal. It was a psychological blow the Hurricanes never overcame. A 3–0 Hasek shutout followed, and in game five Carolina had no answer for Brendan Shanahan, who scored two goals, or Steve Yzerman, the Red Wings captain, who battled through every play-off game on a damaged right knee. Hasek posted a record six shutouts during Detroit's 23-game play-off run to become the first European goalie to lead his team to the title.

      Among the 30 teams that contested the 82-game regular season, Detroit led the NHL in victories (51) and points (116) to win its division by an eight-point margin over the runner-up St. Louis Blues (43 wins). Boston (101 points), Colorado and San Jose (99 each), Philadelphia (97), and Carolina (91) were the other division champions that advanced to the 16-team play-offs. Carolina made the Stanley Cup finals by beating New Jersey and Montreal, each by four games to two, before taking the Eastern Conference final series over Toronto by the same margin. Detroit returned to the final series by beating Vancouver four games to two and St. Louis four games to one as a prelude to defeating Colorado four games to three for the Western Conference championship. In that dramatic series the Red Wings took the final game 7–0.

      In the 52nd NHL All-Star game in Los Angeles on Feb. 2, 2002, the World team scored five goals in the third period to defeat the North Americans 8–5. The 13 goals were half as many as the All-Star game had produced one year earlier, thanks to Tampa Bay's Nikolai Khabibulin, the World goalie from Russia. He stopped 20 shots to shut out North America in the third period, only the fourth All-Star goalie in 14 years to post a shutout period. In his first All-Star appearance, Eric Daze of Chicago was voted MVP, with two goals and an assist for North America.

      The golden moment of the international ice hockey season occurred in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Feb. 24, 2002, when the Canadian men's team beat the U.S. 5–2 to win the Olympic ice hockey gold medal for the first time in 50 years. The long-awaited triumph set off a huge celebration throughout Canada, where thousands of ecstatic fans took to the streets for impromptu parades, joyous flag-waving, and unbridled revelry. The moment was doubly sweet for fans from Vancouver to the Maritime provinces because the Canadian victory over the U.S. came only three days after the Canadian women's team had upset the Americans 3–2 in their gold-medal game.

      With the runner-up finish, the U.S. men earned their first Olympic ice hockey medal since the 1980 team won the gold in the Lake Placid, N.Y., Games. The silver medal brought little joy to either American team, however. Over the first 10 days of the men's Olympic tournament, the U.S. had played better than any of its rivals. The U.S. women's team had beaten Canada eight times in eight pre-Olympic meetings and was favoured to make a successful defense of the Olympic title it had won in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. With 14 players from the 1998 team on the 2002 roster, the U.S. forged a 31-game win streak against pre-Olympics opposition.

      The U.S. men traveled a tougher road to the gold medal game than did the Canadians, and it showed when they squared off in a superb show of skill and intensity. On February 22 Canada beat a weak Belarus team 7–1 in a stress-free semifinal, while the U.S. eked out a 3–2 win over Russia in a semifinal that was physically and emotionally draining.

      The Canadian men began to dominate the final contest in the second period and would have turned it into a rout but for American Mike Richter, who was named the Olympics' best goaltender. Richter had 34 saves and held off Canada on a five-against-three power play before Joe Sakic sent the go-ahead goal past him late in the second period. Canada put it away in the third period after Sakic assisted on a goal by Jarome Iginla and then scored his second goal of the game with 80 seconds left. Russia crushed Belarus 7–2 in the bronze-medal matchup.

      The women's gold-medal game lived up to its billing. Canada, playing with visible confidence, outshot the U.S. 8–3 in the first 10 minutes and stuck with an aggressive style of offense throughout. Caroline Ouellette put Canada ahead before the game was two minutes old, and, with one second left in the second period, Jayna Hefford scored on a breakaway to give Canada a 3–1 lead that proved insurmountable. Sweden edged past Finland 2–1 for the bronze.

      Slovakia won the 66th International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) men's world championship in Göteborg, Swed., on May 11 by beating Russia 4–3. Peter Bondra, a forward with the NHL Washington Capitals, scored his game-winning second goal with 1 minute 40 seconds left. It brought Slovakia its first-ever ice hockey gold medal in international play. Miroslav Satan of Slovakia and the NHL Buffalo Sabres led all scorers with 13 points and was named tournament MVP. The bronze medal went to Sweden.

      The U.S. won its first IIHF world under-18 championship gold medal with a 3–1 victory over Russia on April 21 in Piestany, Slovakia. The Americans got a 35-save effort from goalkeeper James Howard and posted a 7–1 record for the tournament.

Ron Reid

▪ 2002


North America.
      The National Hockey League (NHL) delivered one of the most heartwarming human interest stories of the 2000–01 season when the Colorado Avalanche dethroned the New Jersey Devils on June 9, 2001, at Denver, Colo., in a historic showdown for the Stanley Cup. The championship series went to a seventh game for only the third time in 30 seasons as Colorado clinched the Stanley Cup for the second time since 1996 with a 3–1 victory. The Avalanche thus became the first NHL team since the 1971 Montreal Canadiens to overcome a three-games-to-two deficit in the final series.

      The biggest story of the play-offs was 40-year-old Colorado defenseman Ray Bourque. The captain of the winning team usually skates around the rink with the Cup in his grasp, but Colorado's Joe Sakic ignored tradition and immediately handed it to Bourque as the sellout crowd of 18,007 cheered ecstatically. It marked the first time in a career that spanned a record 1,826 games that Bourque, who spent almost 21 seasons with Boston before he went to Colorado in a trade in March 2000, had celebrated victory in the final game of the season. It was also the last game of Bourque's career, as he announced his retirement 17 days later.

      Of the 30 teams that contested the 82-game regular season prior to the play-offs, Colorado led the NHL in victories (52) and points (118) to capture its division by a huge 25-point margin over Edmonton. Detroit and New Jersey (111 points each), Ottawa (109), Dallas (106), and Washington (96) were the other division champions that advanced to the 16-team play-offs. Colorado advanced to the Stanley Cup finals by routing Vancouver in four straight games and beating Los Angeles four games to three before taking the Western Conference title over St. Louis four games to one. New Jersey reached the Stanley Cup finals for the second straight season by beating Carolina four games to two, Toronto four games to three, and Pittsburgh four games to one for the Eastern Conference title.

      In addition to the motivation the Avalanche players had in trying to bring Bourque his first Stanley Cup, their title quest was greatly energized by Sakic, the high-scoring centre, and Patrick Roy, their accomplished goaltender. Sakic won both the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the Lady Byng Trophy for good sportsmanship, having been penalized only 30 minutes during the regular season. Roy finished the season as the first three-time winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy awarded to the MVP of the play-offs. Roy also reached an enviable milestone on Oct. 17, 2000, when he led Colorado to a 4–3 overtime win at Washington to become the NHL all-time leader in regular-season victories. It was Roy's 448th victory in his 847th game. Terry Sawchuck of Detroit had set the former record in 1970, achieving his 447th victory in his 968th game.

      The 51st NHL All-Star game, played in Denver on February 4, produced more goals than any previous All-Star match when the North Americans defeated the World team 14–12. The American trio of Bill Guerin, Tony Amonte, and Doug Weight combined for six goals and seven assists to raise North America's record to three games to one under the game format adopted in 1998. In his first All-Star game appearance, Guerin scored three goals and had two assists to win MVP honours.

      Mario Lemieux of Pittsburgh ran Bourque a close second on the human-interest front during the season, reentering the NHL on Dec. 27, 2000, after a 31/2-year retirement dictated by a long recovery from serious back injuries and Hodgkin disease. Lemieux proved that the layoff hardly had diminished his skills by scoring 35 goals and posting 41 assists in only 43 games.

      Off the ice, controlling interest in the storied Montreal Canadiens was sold to George Gillett, Jr., an American businessman and ski-resort developer, for Can$275 million ($183 million). The franchise had received no offers from any Canadian buyer.

      Taking another step toward dynasty status, the men's team from the Czech Republic and the Canadian women's team dominated their respective international ice hockey rivals once again in 2001. Each team graced its season by winning a world championship in what was a familiar achievement for both organizations.

      The Czech men captured their third straight world ice hockey championship at Hannover, Ger., with a 3–2 overtime victory against Finland on May 13. David Moravec scored the game-winning goal on a backhand shot that flew past Pasi Nurminen, the Finland goalie, after 10 minutes 38 seconds of overtime. Finland goals by Juha Lind and Juha Ylonen left the Czechs trailing 2–0 after the first two periods, but Martin Prochazka and Jiri Dopita beat Nurminen to square the score in the third period and send the game into overtime. That set the stage for Moravec, a Czech League journeyman whose NHL career consisted of one game with the Buffalo Sabres.

      He scored off a pass from Pavel Patera. Moments later the crowd of 10,513 at Hannover's Preussag Arena roared its approval while Moravec and Czech goalie Milan Hnilicka were joyously mobbed by their teammates. It marked the sixth time in nine world tournament games that the resilient Czechs had overcome a deficit score to win. With the victory the Czech Republic became the first team to win three world titles in succession since the Soviet Union dominated from 1981 through 1983. Moravec was named MVP of the 2001 world championships.

      The Finns, who similarly suffered an overtime loss to the Czechs in 1999, went home with their third silver medal in four years. Sweden took the bronze medal with a 3–2 victory over the United States.

      Team Canada showed even greater domination in capturing the women's world championship for the seventh time in a row at Minneapolis, Minn., on April 8. The Canadian women claimed the world title with a 3–2 victory over the U.S. at the University of Minnesota's Marriucci Arena. In their fifth meeting of the season, the U.S. women outshot their rivals 35–18, but that barrage was not enough to beat Kim St. Pierre, the Canadian goalkeeper. She stopped 33 shots and stymied a U.S. power play in the second period when she blocked three shots and saw two others bounce off the pipes of her goalie cage.

      The Canadian offense was led by Tammy Shewchuck and Jennifer Botterill, a pair of Harvard University teammates. Shewchuck scored the go-ahead goal with 9 minutes 45 seconds left in the second period after Canada's Dana Antal and Carisa Zaban of the U.S. matched goals in the first. Botterill, the world tournament MVP, gave Canada a two-goal lead when she tipped in a shot by Theresa Brisson with 3 minutes 45 seconds to go. The U.S. got its second goal from A.J. Mleczko with 79 seconds remaining after pulling its goalie, but the Americans failed to score again.

      The victory was Canada's 100th in international play, raising the team's record to 35–0 in world championship games, and it demonstrated Canada's superior depth in women's ice hockey. The U.S. team had lived and trained together at Lake Placid, N.Y., for seven months preceding the world championships; the Canadian team was assembled only a week before the tournament began. The North American rivals had met 14 times since the U.S. beat Canada for the women's hockey gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. Including the 2001 world championship, the Canadians raised their record in the rivalry to 10–4.

      On January 5 in Moscow, the Czech Republic took the world junior hockey championship for the second straight season with a 2–1 victory over Finland. The Czechs held a 2–0 lead at the three-minute mark of the second period, on goals by Rostislav Klesla and Vaclav Nedorost. Finland fought back with a goal by Jani Rita late in the second period and might have tied the score in the final two minutes but for a shot by Mikko Koivu that missed an open net.

Ron Reid

▪ 2001


North America.
      The National Hockey League (NHL) suffered a surplus of uninspiring games and players lost to injury during the 1999–2000 regular season, but once the Stanley Cup play-offs got under way, the league delivered some of the most thrilling contests ever witnessed, including several that were determined only after they went into sudden-death overtime. Among the latter, the New Jersey Devils' 2–1 victory over the Dallas Stars on June 10, 2000, typified the intensity of the play-off season and brought it to a dramatic conclusion at Dallas's Reunion Arena. The game had been extended 8 minutes 20 seconds into its second overtime session when Jason Arnott scored the game-winning goal on a deflected wrist shot that gave the Devils the series four games to two and their second Stanley Cup in six years. Two nights earlier, in game five at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., the defending champion Stars had avoided elimination with a 1–0 victory; Mike Modano's winning goal came at 6 minutes 21 seconds of the third overtime period.

      The Devils tied a postseason team record with 10 road victories in the play-offs. Devils' defenseman Scott Stevens captured the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2000 play-offs. Some observers called Stevens a dubious choice, because he was cheered not for any particular offensive play but for knocking five opposing players out of action. The most noteworthy victim of Stevens's aggression was Eric Lindros, the Philadelphia Flyers centre, who suffered his sixth career concussion when the Devils enforcer leveled him with a vicious hit in a May 26 play-off game. By season's end it had yet to be determined if Lindros's career was finished as well.

      The Devils' timely championship delivered an ecstatic good-bye to the game from team owner John McMullen, who had earlier agreed to sell his team to the consortium that owned the New York Yankees and the New Jersey Nets. The Devils' front office similarly received kudos for making one of the boldest moves of the year—firing coach Robbie Ftorek and replacing him with Larry Robinson when only eight games remained on the regular-season schedule. Robinson's positive impact on the slumping Devils was immediate, and the team's success soon followed. Among the 28 teams that contested the 82-game regular season before the play-offs began, the surprising St. Louis Blues led the league in victories (51) and points (114) to capture their division by a six-point margin over runner-up Detroit (48 wins). Philadelphia (105 points), Washington and Dallas (102 each), Toronto (100), and Colorado (96) were the other division champions who advanced to the 16-team play-offs. Dallas reached the Stanley Cup finals for the second straight season by beating Edmonton and San Jose, each by four games to one, before ousting Colorado in the Western Conference final series four games to three. The Devils qualified for the Stanley Cup showdown by sweeping Florida in four games, beating Toronto four games to two, and rebounding to take the Eastern Conference title by defeating the Flyers four games to three. It was in the Philadelphia matchup that New Jersey became the first team since 1967 to come back to win after a one–three deficit in games.

      New Jersey's defensive mastery, led by veteran goalie Martin Brodeur, surfaced early in the play-offs. When the Devils clinched the semifinal series with a 3–0 victory on May 8, they allowed Toronto only six shots, the fewest given up in any NHL game in 33 years. In the final game of the championship series, the Devils held the Stars without a shot through the first 16 minutes of the first period, but neither the excitement of the Stanley Cup final series nor the suspense of the overtime games made any great impact on the NHL television ratings, which remained unimpressive. Financial problems also plagued the NHL's Canadian-based franchises in 1999–2000, and players throughout the league complained about the quality of ice, especially in arenas in the South.

      In the 50th NHL All-Star game at Toronto on February 6, the World team notched a 9–4 victory over North America, thanks to a three-goal performance by Pavel Bure, the Russian right wing of the Florida Panthers. Bure, who also had an assist, claimed the game's MVP honours.

      Hockey lost one of its legendary talents on May 27 when Maurice (“the Rocket”) Richard died of cancer at the age of 78. (See Obituaries (Richard, Maurice ).) One of the NHL's great scorers and an intense competitor, Richard led the Montreal Canadiens to eight Stanley Cups during 18 seasons with the team. He was the first player to score 50 goals in a season and 500 in a career.

      Extending the trend they established in 1999, the men's team from the Czech Republic and the Canadian women's team dominated their respective international ice hockey opposition once again in 2000. Each team finished its season as a world champion in what was a recurrent achievement for both organizations.

      The Czech Republic men repeated as world ice hockey champions on May 14 with a 5–3 victory over Slovakia at the St. Petersburg Ice Palace. It was the third world title in five years for the Czechs, who beat Finland for the gold medal in 1999, and the fifth straight loss by the Slovakians to their former countrymen in an international tournament. The Czechs advanced to the gold-medal game by beating Latvia 3–1 in the quarterfinal round and Canada 2–1 in the semifinals. Slovakia, competing for the fifth time as an independent nation at the world championships, reached the finals with a 4–1 quarterfinal victory that knocked the U.S. out of contention and a 3–1 semifinal win over Finland.

      The Czechs struck for the gold early on, taking a 3–0 lead in the first period on goals by Michal Sykora, Tomas Vlasak, and Martin Prochazka, then survived a late Slovak rally. Robert Reichel, who scored the winning goal to get the Czech Republic past Canada, rallied again to score an insurance goal with 1 minute 2 seconds left to play. Slovakia had 33 shots on goal, but Roman Cechmanek, the Czech goalkeeper, had 30 saves to outplay Jan Lasak, his Slovakian counterpart, who allowed the five scores on only 15 shots on goal. The Players of the Game were Vlasak of the Czech Republic and Lubos Bartecko of Slovakia.

      Team Canada took the women's world championship with a 3–2 overtime victory over the U.S. at Mississauga, Ont., on April 9. It marked the sixth straight world championship gold medal for the Canadians, not counting the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, where they lost the title game to the U.S.

      At Mississauga, the U.S. women took a 2–0 lead in the second period on goals by Tricia Dunn and Karen Bye but could not contain Canada's Jayna Hefford in the late going. She scored twice in the third period to leave the game deadlocked at the end of regulation play. The game-winning goal came 6 minutes 50 seconds into overtime when Nancy Drolet picked a loose puck, circled around, and slammed home a shot that beat Sara DeCosta, the American goalie. It was a disappointing swan song for the U.S. team, which started the tournament by routing the Russians 15–0.

      On January 4 in Skellefteå, Swed., the Czech Republic captured its first gold medal in the world junior ice hockey tournament, beating Russia in the first final ever decided by a shoot-out. The Czechs got a goal each in the tie-breaking shoot-out format from Libor Pivko and Milan Kraft after the Russians had gone one-up on a goal by Yevgeny Muratov, the team's leading scorer in the tournament. The game was scoreless after its first 80 minutes.

      The Russians might have tied it on the final attempt in the shoot-out, but Yevgeny Federov was stopped by Zdenek Smid only seconds before the Czechs began to celebrate their newfound success at the junior level. Russia's silver medal was its 21st since 1977.

      The highlight contest of the Skoda Auto European Hockey League (EHL) season was played on February 6 at Lugano, Switz. Andrey Razin, a 27-year-old centre, scored his first two goals of the season in a 3-minute 58-second span to give Metallurg Magnitogorsk a 2–0 victory over Czech Sparta Praha for its second consecutive EHL championship. Metallurg goalie Igor Karpenko had 29 saves on 29 shots on goal for the Russian champions. TPS Turku, the entry from Finland, routed hometown favourite Lugano 6–1 to take the bronze medal.

Ron Reid

▪ 2000


North America.
      The National Hockey League (NHL) 1998–99 season reached an extraordinary milestone on April 16, 1999, when Wayne Gretzky, probably the greatest hockey player of all time, announced his retirement. (See Biographies (Gretzky, Wayne ).) Little more than two months later, on June 20, the NHL's 82nd season ended in controversy, spawned by a disputed triple-overtime goal that brought the Dallas Stars (formerly the Minnesota North Stars) their first Stanley Cup championship.

      Gretzky, in a 21-season career with four different teams, set 61 NHL records, made the All-Star team 18 times, won four Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s, and was recognized as a great ambassador for his game. “The Great One” also went out in style only 20 days after scoring his 1,072nd goal to move past his boyhood hero, Gordie Howe, and became the leading goal scorer in ice hockey history. Few were surprised when the Hockey Hall of Fame committee unanimously voted to set aside the usual three-year waiting period so Gretzky could be enshrined on November 22.

      Dallas captured its first Stanley Cup, when a rebound shot by Brett Hull of the Stars got past Dominik Hasek, the Buffalo Sabres goalie, after 14 minutes and 51 seconds of the third overtime period at Buffalo. Hull's game winner gave the Stars a 2–1 victory in the second longest NHL finals game ever played and clinched the Stanley Cup for Dallas 4 games to 2. It was a heart-breaking finale for the Sabres, especially after videotape replays showed Hull's left skate had entered the goal crease before the puck did, in violation of NHL rules. Goalie crease violations such as Hull's had nullified goals 137 times during the regular season, but NHL officials ruled that Hull had the puck under control and allowed the goal to stand. One day later the NHL announced it would no longer use video replay to decide disputed goals but would leave such decisions to its officiating crews.

      The controversy overshadowed the Stars' status as the best defensive team in the league, as well as the playoff performance of Dallas goalie Ed Belfour, who finished with a 1.67 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 23 postseason games. The Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player (MVP) of the final series went to the Stars' Joe Nieuwendyk, who recorded 11 goals and 10 assists in the play-offs and tied a postseason record with six game-winning goals.

      Through the 82-game NHL regular season, Dallas led the league with 51 victories and 114 points earned to win its division by a 24-point margin. New Jersey (105 points), Ottawa (103), Colorado (98), Detroit (93), and Carolina (86) were the other division champions that advanced into the 16-team play-offs.

      Buffalo, a seventh seed in the Eastern Conference play-offs, reached the Stanley Cup final series for the first time in 24 seasons by sweeping Ottawa in 4 games, beating Boston 4 games to 2, and routing Toronto 4 games to 1 in the conference final. Top-seeded Dallas advanced to the Stanley Cup title round for the third time in the 32-year history of the franchise after sweeping Edmonton, beating St. Louis 4 games to 2, and defeating Colorado 4 games to 3 to win the Western Conference.

      Among the NHL's also-rans, none had a better season than the first-year Nashville Predators, with home-game attendance averaging 16,145 and 10 of 17 sellouts recorded after January, long after the team's play-off hopes had been dashed. Television ratings for NHL games continued to decline, however, and rule changes designed to increase scoring were of no help as teams compiled a 41-year low average of 5.57 goals per game.

      In the NHL All-Star game at Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 24, 1999, Gretzky scored one goal and had two assists to lead North America to an 8–6 victory over the World team. Two days short of his 38th birthday, Gretzky was selected as the game's MVP. In Pittsburgh, Pa., former Penguin Mario Lemieux, a Hall of Fame player and six-time NHL scoring champion, was approved by a federal bankruptcy judge as the team's new owner in late June. Lemieux's financial rescue of his former team, which was $100 million in debt, kept the Penguins franchise in Pittsburgh.

      The Penguins also had the best player in the league, Jaromir Jagr, who led the NHL in scoring with 44 goals and 127 points to win the Art Ross Trophy for the second straight season. He also captured the Hart Trophy awarded to the league's MVP. The Vezina Trophy for the league's best goalie went to Hasek for the fifth time, and Gretzky received his fifth Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship. Chris Drury of Colorado won the Calder Trophy as the season's best rookie; Al MacInnis took the Norris Trophy as best defenseman; and Jere Lehtinen was awarded the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward. The Jack Adams Award for outstanding coach went to Jacques Martin of Ottawa.

Ron Reid

      The men's team from the Czech Republic and the Canadian women's team were the best that international ice hockey had to offer in 1999. Each finished its respective season as a world champion, a recurrent achievement for the Czechs, a redemptive fulfillment for the Canadians.

      The Czech Republic men won the world ice hockey championship on May 16, 1999, at Lillehammer, Nor. Left-winger Jan Hlavac scored the game-winning goal when he slammed his own rebound past Finnish goalie Miikka Kiprusoff at 16 minutes and 32 seconds of overtime. The goal came on a breakaway that started when Hlavac took a pass from center Roman Simicek at mid-ice and bore in on Kiprusoff all alone. Kiprusoff made a save on Hlavac's first shot, a backhander, but could not react quickly enough to stop the rebound. The 20-minute overtime period was required after the teams split the two championship final games. The Czechs won the opener 3–1. Finland came back a day later with a 4–1 victory in the second final game.

      The Czech success marked the end of a tension-filled tournament for the champions, who captured the last semifinal berth on May 10 with a 2–0 victory that ended Sweden's 15-game win streak. The Czechs secured their place in the final three days later, winning a dramatic penalty shootout against Canada 4–3. Hlavac, age 22, led the Czech Republic scoring with five goals and five assists in 10 games. The victory was the second world title for the Czech Republic, which also won in 1996, as well as the team's second major victory in international competition since capturing the Winter Olympic gold medal at Nagano, Japan, in 1998. No fewer than 10 members of the Czech Olympic champions were on the roster for the 1999 world championships. Defending champion Sweden beat Canada 3–2 for the bronze medal.

      On March 14, at Espoo, Fin., the Canadian women's team avenged its 1998 Olympic loss to the United States by beating the Americans 3–1 for the women's world ice hockey championship. The victory gave Canada its fifth women's world championship gold medal in succession and raised the team's record in world championship tournaments to 25–0. Daniele Sauvageau, the Canadian coach, came into the six-day, eight-team tournament intentionally playing down the revenge factor, but the loss of the Olympic gold medal at Nagano was hardly forgotten by her players. The Canadian women got an outstanding performance from goalie Sami Jo Small, who stopped 26 shots, as well as from Caroline Ouellette, Danielle Goyette, and Geraldine Heaney, all of whom scored goals. Finland won the bronze medal with an 8–2 rout of Sweden.

      Russia won the world junior ice hockey championship at Winnipeg, Man., on January 5, taking the gold medal with a 3–2 overtime victory over Canada. Artyom Chubarov, who also scored an earlier goal, got the game-winner for the Russians with a slapshot that beat Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo at 5 minutes and 13 seconds of overtime. Russia outshot Canada 40–18 to win its first gold medal since 1992.

      The Russian team Metallurg Magnitogorsk won the European Hockey League (EHL) championship on February 14 with a 2–1 victory over Dyamo Moscow. Vladimir Antipin, a defenseman, scored the winning goal after 2 minutes and 9 seconds of overtime. The EHL champions' luck ran out, however, in their showdown with HC Ambri Piotta, the Continental Cup Champion, for the Super Cup. With Pauli Jaks in goal, the Swiss team scored a 2–0 shutout over Metallurg to win the Super Cup held on August 31.

Ron Reid

▪ 1999


North America.
      The National Hockey League (NHL) season of 1997-98 ended on a sentimental note when the Detroit Red Wings won their second-straight Stanley Cup, once again taking the final series in four consecutive games. The Red Wings became the first team in six seasons to win back-to-back Stanley Cups when they finished their sweep of the Washington Capitals with a 4-1 victory on June 16, 1998. It gave Scotty Bowman a record-equaling eighth Stanley Cup as a coach and wrote a fitting conclusion to the emotional season that followed the Red Wings' first championship in 42 years. The 1996-97 season saw the Red Wings sweep Philadelphia for the NHL title only to have their euphoria abruptly ended six days later by a limousine crash that severely injured defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergey Mnatsakanov. The Red Wings' 1998 celebration started after the final game ended at Washington, and Konstantinov came out on the ice in his wheelchair, wearing a Detroit jersey. He was presented the Stanley Cup by his teammates before they took him around the ice on a victory lap.

      The Red Wings' success was equally sweet for Steve Yzerman, the 15-year veteran and team captain whose leadership was obvious in his play-off statistics (6 goals, 18 assists) and defensive intensity. Once labeled a player who could not lead his team to victory in big games, Yzerman turned in an exceptional all-around performance that earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the play-offs.

      From the NHL's 26 teams that battled through an 82-game season before the play-offs began, the Dallas Stars led the league in both victories (49) and points (109) to win their division, 10 points in front of the runner-up Red Wings (44 wins). New Jersey (107 points), Pittsburgh (98), and Colorado (95) were the other division winners who advanced into the 16-team play-offs.

      The Capitals moved into the Stanley Cup final for the first time in the 24-year history of the Washington franchise by beating Boston 4 games to 2, Ottawa 4-1, and Buffalo 4-2. Three Washington victories in the hotly contested Buffalo series came in overtime against Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek (see BIOGRAPHIES (Hasek, Dominik )), the Czech-born Winter Olympics hero. The Red Wings stormed back into the final series by beating Phoenix, St. Louis, and Dallas, all by the margin of 4 games to 2.

      In their second title-clinching challenge, Detroit established a trend that kept pressure on the Capitals throughout the series. The Red Wings simply scored first in every game, taking no longer than the sixth shot to gain a 1-0 lead. In game three of the series the Red Wings scored on their very first shot, 35 seconds after the opening face-off. Detroit also got superb goaltending from Chris Osgood, who allowed only seven goals in 99 shots against him. He held the Caps to a single goal in three of the four games.

      Heartening as the Red Wings' success was to fans in Michigan, the NHL suffered poor television ratings elsewhere in 1998. The league also was embarrassed by the unruly behavior of its North American representatives to the Winter Olympics and concerned over concussions suffered by several elite players, including Paul Kariya of Anaheim, Eric Lindros of Philadelphia, and Pat LaFontaine of the New York Rangers.

      In the NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 18, 1998, North America overcame a hat trick (three goals) by right wing Teemu Selanne to beat the World team 8-7. Selanne, a Finn who played for Anaheim, became the first European to score an All-Star Game hat trick and win MVP honours.

      On June 25 Hasek became the first goalie in NHL history to win the Hart and Vezina trophies in consecutive seasons. They are awarded to the league's MVP and best goalie, respectively. Jaromir Jagr of Pittsburgh, Hasek's teammate on the Czech team that captured the Winter Olympics gold medal, won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's highest scorer (102 points). Rob Blake of Los Angeles won the Norris Trophy as the league's outstanding defenseman, and Jere Lehtinen of Dallas gained the Selke Trophy as best defensive forward. Ron Francis of Pittsburgh won the Lady Byng Trophy for good sportsmanship, and Sergey Samsonov of Boston was awarded the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. The Jack Adams Award for Outstanding Coach went to Pat Burns of Boston, winning for the third time with his third team.

      In late June the NHL board of governors adopted rule changes to increase scoring by reducing the area of the goalie crease and moving the net 0.6 m (2 ft) farther from the end boards, to 4 m (13 ft). The Nashville Predators, the league's 27th franchise, selected 26 players in the NHL expansion draft, while new expansion teams were announced for Minnesota; Atlanta, Ga.; and Columbus, Ohio.


      For the first time in the 74-year history of the Winter Olympics, NHL players were allowed to compete for medals in ice hockey at the Games in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. Six women's teams also competed in the Olympics for the first time. In both instances, the Americans and Canadians entered the tournament as cofavourites.

      On the men's side, the U.S. had defeated Canada in the finals of the 1996 World Cup, establishing itself as the team to beat. With all the talk about Wayne Gretzky's first Olympics and the U.S.'s first legitimate chance at gold since the 1980 "Miracle on Ice," the pundits, however, largely ignored Czech Republic goaltender Dominik "The Dominator" Hasek. The NHL's two-time defending Most Valuable Player (MVP) and top goaltender, Hasek allowed only six goals in six Olympic games as he led the Czech Republic to its first ice hockey gold medal. After stirring performances in victories over the U.S. (4-1) and Canada (2-1 in a semifinal shoot-out), he shut out arch rival Russia in the gold medal match (an amazing feat considering that Russian forward Pavel Bure almost single-handedly defeated Finland in the semifinals with a five-goal performance). When Petr Svoboda beat Russian goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov on a 15-m (50-ft) slapshot with 11:52 to play in the final period for a 1-0 lead, Czech fans around the world began to celebrate.

      Meanwhile, in Canada the mood was less buoyant. After losing the semifinal shoot-out to Hasek and the Czechs, ending their dream of a first ice hockey gold medal since 1952, Canada lost the bronze medal match to Finland 3-2. Despite the absence of its top scoring threat, Teemu Selanne, Finland used opportunistic offense and solid defense to upset the flat Canadians, who outshot the Finns 34-15.

      The U.S. and Sweden, both favoured to win a medal, failed even to reach the medal round. To make matters worse, after the U.S. was knocked out of medal contention by the Czechs, several unidentified U.S. players allegedly vandalized their dormitory rooms, bringing negative publicity off the ice to a team that had been a disappointment on the ice.

      While the men's tournament was filled with surprises, the women's tournament played out exactly as expected—until the finals. The U.S. and Canada easily advanced to the gold medal match. In an early round the U.S. had defeated Canada 7-4 by scoring six unanswered goals after the Canadian women had taken a 4-1 lead. The final proved to be a much tighter contest. After a scoreless first period, American Gretchen Ulion beat Canadian goaltender Manon Rheaume at the 2:38 mark of the second period. Ulion's teammate Shelley Looney shoved in a rebound at the 10:57 mark of the third period to increase the U.S.'s lead to 2-0. Six minutes later, however, Canada's Danielle Goyette, the tournament's leading goal scorer, capitalized on a power play opportunity and beat American goalie Sarah Tueting.

      Tueting then snuffed out several potentially golden opportunities for Canada, and after Rheaume was pulled with less than a minute remaining and replaced by an extra attacker, American Sandra Whyte scored an empty-net goal to seal the victory. The U.S. finished the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record, while Canada dropped to 4-2. The win represented the first time the U.S. had defeated Canada in a championship setting, having lost the previous four world championships. Finland won the bronze medal, defeating China 4-1.

      At the men's world championships in Zürich, Switz., in May, Sweden avenged its poor Olympic showing, defeating Finland, which had eliminated the Swedes in Nagano, 1-0 in the first game of a two-leg final that concluded with a scoreless second game. The Czech Republic, minus Hasek, crushed Switzerland 4-0 for the bronze medal.


▪ 1997


North America.
      When the team was the Quebec Nordiques, its prospects were good on the ice, but the financial problems that resulted from playing in one of the National Hockey League's (NHL's) smallest cities became overwhelming. Therefore, before the 1995-96 season the team was sold and moved to Denver, where it became known as the Colorado Avalanche. The payoff was immediate, a championship in the Stanley Cup play-offs.

      The NHL's 26 teams each played 82 games from October 1995 to April 1996. The dominant team, by far, was the Detroit Red Wings. Under Coach Scotty Bowman they won 62 games, the most ever by an NHL team, against 13 losses and 7 ties. They lost only 3 of 41 games at home and only 3 of 28 against division rivals. Though best known for offense, they allowed the fewest goals in the league, an average of 2.2 a game.

      The division winners were Detroit with 131 points, Colorado (104), the Philadelphia Flyers (103), and the Pittsburgh Penguins (102). They led 16 teams into the play-offs, including the Montreal Canadiens but not the defending champion New Jersey Devils. Montreal, after missing the play-offs the previous year for the first time since 1970, lost the first five games of the season. General manager Serge Savard and Coach Jacques Demers were fired and replaced by Rejean Houle as general manager and Mario Tremblay as coach. The Canadiens improved enough to make the play-offs but lost in the first round to the New York Rangers. New Jersey won only 37 games and became the first cup champion since the 1969-70 Canadiens to miss the next year's play-offs.

      In the Western Conference play-offs, Colorado eliminated the Vancouver Canucks, the Chicago Blackhawks, and Detroit, all by four games to two. In the East the Florida Panthers, a third-year expansion team, defeated the Boston Bruins (4-1), Philadelphia (4-2), and Pittsburgh (4-3).

      Colorado, coached by Marc Crawford, was favoured in the finals. It had big, strong defensemen, and it had a play-off-hardened goalie in Patrick Roy, who had forced a December trade from Montreal. Florida, in its first play-offs, was coached by Doug MacLean, in his first NHL head coach position. His team played a disciplined, tight-checking game and had a strong goalie in John Vanbiesbrouck.

      The four-of-seven-game finals lasted only from June 4 through 11 as Colorado won in a four-game sweep by scores of 3-1, 8-1, 3-2, and 1-0. The last game went to triple overtime before Uwe Krupp, a Colorado defenseman from Germany, scored on a slap shot from just inside the blue line. Centre Joe Sakic, the Colorado captain, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the series' most valuable player.

      Mario Lemieux, the Pittsburgh centre, returned after a year off following back surgery and radiation treatment for Hodgkin's disease. Although he missed 12 games, he led the league in scoring (161 points), goals (69), assists (92), power-play goals (31), and shorthanded goals (8). For the third time, he won the Hart Trophy as the regular season's most valuable player.

      Chris Chelios of Chicago won his third Norris Trophy as the outstanding defenseman. Jim Carey of the Washington Capitals won the Vezina Trophy for goaltending, Sergey Fedorov of Detroit the Selke Trophy as best defensive forward, winger Paul Kariya of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play, winger Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators the Calder Trophy as best rookie, and Bowman the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

      Defenseman Ray Bourque of Boston was voted to the first-string all-star team for the 12th time, tying Gordie Howe's record. The others on the team were Carey in goal, Chelios on defense, Lemieux at centre, and Jaromir Jagr of Pittsburgh and Kariya on wing.

      The Americanization of this Canadian sport continued when the Winnipeg Jets were sold and moved after the season to Phoenix, Ariz. They were renamed the Coyotes.

      The NHL estimated its revenue for the 1995-96 season at $920 million, up from $562 million in 1994-95. There were increases in the number of national sponsors and in the volume of national marketing. Nevertheless, although 1995-96 attendance reached a record high of 17,041,614, one-third of the teams experienced attendance problems.

      The NHL Players Association reported that the average salary climbed to $892,000, up from $733,000 the previous season and $562,000 the season before that. For some teams new arenas made profits possible. For example, after 72 years and 3,229 games at the 18,000-seat Montreal Forum, the Canadiens moved in March into the new Centre Molson, with 21,500 seats and 135 executive suites. (FRANK LITSKY)

      A record-equaling 39 nations, divided into four pools, contested the 60th world ice hockey championships at Vienna in May. The winner, for the first time since the breakup of the old Czechoslovakia, was the Czech Republic, which defeated Canada 4-2 in a nail-biting final.

      Relying heavily on National Hockey League players not engaged in the Stanley Cup play-offs, Canada gained an early lead in the final with a goal by Steve Thomas of the New Jersey Devils. Robert Lang, a player for the Los Angeles Kings, then scored for the Czechs in the eighth minute of the game. In the second period Lang put the Czechs ahead, but Thomas's second goal quickly tied the score. Thanks to sterling net minding by Curtis Joseph for Canada and Roman Turek for the Czechs, there were no additional goals until, with 19 seconds left and overtime looming, Martin Prochaska caught the Canadian defense napping. Jiri Kucera then added an empty-net power-play goal.

      The Czechs had a more comfortable passage in the semifinals, defeating the U.S. 5-0, while Canada overcame Russia 3-2 on penalty shots following a fruitless overtime. Within three minutes of the start of the first semifinal, the Americans were humiliated by yielding two goals to the Czechs, who had one player in the penalty box. The Czechs added a power-play goal in the 14th minute and scored twice more at even strength in the final period.

      The second semifinal was a classic confrontation. At the end of the first period, Russia led 2-0. Canada then gained control to tie the score in the second period. Joseph needed to be at his brilliant best in a goalless third period and in the 10-minute "sudden death" overtime that followed. In the tense penalty shoot-out, Sergey Berezin put Russia ahead. Ray Ferraro then scored for Canada, but Berezin buried his second shot before Paul Kariya and Yanic Perreault came to Canada's rescue in a 3-2 triumph.

      Overtime was also required in the play-off for third place. Brian Rolston of the New Jersey Devils scored the last goal to gain a 4-3 victory for the U.S. against Russia, which earned the Americans their first medal of any colour since 1962. Next best of the 12-nation elite Pool A teams were Sweden, Italy, Finland, Germany, Norway, and Slovakia, with France beating Austria in the relegation play-off.

      Heading the tournament scorers was Perreault, with six goals and three assists, followed by Lang and two Russians, Berezin and Aleksey Yashin. The selected all-star team comprised four Czechs—Turek, defender Michal Sykora, and forwards Robert Reichel and Otakar Vejvoda—plus the Russian defender Aleksey Zhitnik and the Canadian forward Kariya.

      Replacing the demoted Austria in Pool A was Latvia, which won the eight-team Pool B tournament at Eindhoven, Neth., by edging Switzerland in the final. Belarus finished one point ahead of the fourth-place U.K. Poland placed fifth, and the bottom three finished even on points and needed to be separated by the results of the games between them, leaving Denmark and The Netherlands as survivors and Japan relegated to Pool C. Kazakstan, winner of the eight-nation Pool C, moved up to Pool B. Croatia finished last in Pool C and exchanged places with Lithuania, the host-nation winner of Pool D, which also contained eight teams after three others had failed to qualify.

      Jokerit Helsinki of Finland retained its title in the 19th European Cup, open to national club champions, beating Cologne of Germany in the final by penalty shots after a scoreless overtime. HV-71 from Jönkoping, Swed., took the bronze medal.

      The expansion of the International Ice Hockey Federation continued with the approval of Singapore as its 52nd member. The IIHF announced an ambitious new European League to begin in the 1996-97 season, contested by 20 clubs from 12 nations. A new English rink at Manchester, with a national record crowd capacity of 17,000, enabled the nomination of its local team, Manchester Storm, to represent the U.K. (HOWARD BASS)

▪ 1996


North America.
      A 103-day lockout by club owners delayed the start of the National Hockey League's (NHL's) 1994-95 season and shortened the regular season, normally 84 games for each team, to 48 games each. When the season was over, the New Jersey Devils had won their first Stanley Cup.

      The 1994-95 competition had loomed as a breakthrough season for major league hockey in the United States and Canada. There were new teams in the Sun Belt, more good European players, increased television coverage, and wider visibility because a New York team (the Rangers) had won the Stanley Cup during the previous season.

      The 1994-95 competition was scheduled to start October 1. Because there was no collective bargaining agreement, the club owners feared the players would allow the season to start and then strike. The players promised they would not strike while negotiating. Still, on October 1, after collective bargaining had broken down, the owners locked them out.

      The owners wanted a heavy payroll tax to control salaries, which averaged $560,000. They also sought a rookie salary cap and restrictions on arbitration and free agency.

      On January 13 the owners and players agreed on a six-year contact and saved what had almost become the first entire professional sports season to be lost to a labour dispute. The players accepted the owners' demands except for a payroll tax and a team salary cap.

      The season began January 20 and was extended to May 3. All games were played only against conference opponents, however, with the result that such traditional rivals as the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs did not meet. Still, the lockout had minimal impact on attendance. Eight of the 26 clubs sold out every game, and 11 others played to more than 90% of capacity.

      The Detroit Red Wings won the Western Conference title with the league's best record—33 victories, 11 defeats, and 4 ties for 70 points. In the Eastern Conference, the Quebec Nordiques led with 65 points, and New Jersey finished fifth with 52. The Rangers barely won the last play-off berth in the East, and Montreal was shut out of the 16-team play-offs after its worst season in 47 years.

      In the first three rounds of the play-offs, New Jersey eliminated the Boston Bruins (4 games to 1), the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-1), and the Philadelphia Flyers (4-2). Detroit overran the Dallas Stars (4-1), the San Jose Sharks (4-0), and the Chicago Blackhawks (4-1).

      Detroit, with great offensive talent, was a strong favourite in the final. It had not won the cup in 40 years, and New Jersey had never won it. However, New Jersey had disrupted its first three play-off victims with a neutral-zone trap, a defense in the middle third of the rink that broke up plays before they formed. New Jersey did the same to Detroit and swept the best-of-seven finals in four games, 2-1, 4-2, 5-2, and 5-2. Forward Claude Lemieux of New Jersey won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the play-offs.

      Eric Lindros, Philadelphia's 22-year-old centre, was named the NHL's most valuable player in two separate polls. He won the Hart Trophy in a vote of writers and broadcasters and the Lester Pearson Award in a poll of players. Lindros and Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh's Czech-born forward, tied for the scoring title with 70 points each, but Jagr became the champion because he had more goals (32 to Lindros' 29). Lindros missed the last game of the season when an errant puck left him with a six-stitch cut under his left eye.

      In voting by writers and broadcasters, Dominik Hasek of the Buffalo Sabres won his second consecutive Vezina Trophy for goaltending. He had allowed only 2.11 goals per game. For the third time in 11 years, Paul Coffey of Detroit won the Norris Trophy as the outstanding defenseman. Ron Francis of Pittsburgh won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward and the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship. Peter Forsberg, a Quebec forward, earned the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, and Marc Crawford of Quebec won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

      Mario Lemieux, the Pittsburgh centre, had been one of the NHL's best players when healthy. He was worn down from treatment for Hodgkin's disease and from a chronic back condition, and he took a one-year sabbatical. He returned for the 1995-96 season.

      After the season New Jersey, Quebec, and the Winnipeg Jets seemed likely to move to new cities, but only Quebec did so. The corporation that owned the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association bought the Nordiques for $75 million and moved them to Denver, where they were renamed the Avalanche.

      Before its Stanley Cup victory, New Jersey received a stunning offer to relocate to Nashville, Tenn., a package that included a $20 million relocation fee. Instead, the Devils renegotiated their lease at Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., and stayed there. The Winnipeg owners sold their team, which seemed likely to move for the 1996-97 season. (FRANK LITSKY)

      The 59th world championship was contested by a record 39 nations, three more than the previous year, requiring an enlarged two-section Pool C. The 12 title-contending nations in the elite Pool A, held in Stockholm and Gävle, Sweden, were divided into the customary two preliminary round-robin groups, each providing four of the quarterfinalists. Two teams, the United States and Russia, survived unbeaten from the qualifying groups, Russia winning all of its five games and the U.S. winning three and drawing two.

      France gained its first-ever Pool A win against Canada 4-2, thanks mainly to two goals and an assist from Christian Pouget, but the Canadians, although not at full strength, shook off this upset to make the semifinals after knocking out the U.S. 4-1. Canada gave the host country a hard time in the first semifinal, eventually losing 3-2 in overtime in a match that revived memories of Sweden's penalty shoot-out victory over Canada in the previous year's Olympic final. The Czech Republic reached the second semifinal through a notable 2-0 quarterfinal triumph over Russia but, perhaps suffering from a letdown, then lost 3-0 to a dominant Finland.

      After pressing close for several years, Finland at last won its first title with a convincing 4-1 success against Sweden before a capacity crowd of 13,850 in Stockholm in the electric atmosphere of an all-Scandinavian final. The hero was Ville Peltonen, who scored three goals and had an assist on the fourth. Jarmo Myllys, outstanding in the Finnish net, was denied a shutout in the third period.

      Ironically, the victorious Finns were coached by a Swede, Curre Lindstrom, who had previously coached Sweden. The Americans, who ultimately placed sixth, gained the distinction in the preliminary stages of taking a point from each of the two finalists. Because the NHL started late, it coincided with the world championships; consequently, Canada and the U.S. were deprived of some star talent. However, there can be no doubt that the Finns were worthy winners, with the talent of their younger players suggesting more titles to come. Peltonen seemed likely to follow his teammates defender Marko Kiprusoff and centre Saku Koivu to the NHL.

      Canada gained the bronze medal by comfortably defeating the Czech Republic 4-1. Canada's Andrew McKim led the Pool A tournament scorers with 13 points (6 goals and 7 assists), followed by Peltonen with 11 (6 goals and 5 assists).

      After only one season in the top flight, the newly promoted Switzerland finished at the bottom of Pool A, to be replaced by Slovakia. With home-ice advantage, Slovakia won all its seven matches in the eight-team round-robin Pool B held in Bratislava. Only one year earlier Slovakia had topped Pool C. Runner-up Latvia, which lost only to the leaders, proved too strong for the other six Pool B competitors, of which Great Britain, demoted from Pool A the previous winter, narrowly avoided the humiliation of another demotion by finishing above last-place Romania.

      Belarus decisively clinched promotion to Pool B from the nine-team group one of Pool C, contested in Sofia, Bulg. Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Estonia filled the next three positions and suggested great potential. Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, eighth and ninth, respectively, were both demoted to group two of Pool C, to be replaced by Croatia, winner of the 10-team group two, contested in Johannesburg, South Africa. This group largely comprised nations relatively new to ice sports and apparently earmarked for a resurrected Pool D. The continuing emergence of such nations as Israel, South Africa, and Greece reflected the sport's worldwide expansion.

      Jokerit Helsinki of Finland won the 18th European Cup, open to national club champions, by beating Lada Togliatti of Russia 4-2 in the final in Helsinki, Fin. TPS Turku, also of Finland and competing as defending champion, finished third by overwhelming HC Olomouc of Czechoslovakia 8-1.


▪ 1995


North America.
      The National Hockey League's (NHL's) 1993-94 season was one of its most unusual. The New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 54 years. Then their coach, Mike Keenan, walked out after one year on the job to become coach and general manager of the St. Louis Blues and to gain the personnel control that he wanted. Mario Lemieux, the game's best player, decided to take off the 1994-95 season to recover from injury and illness. There were also labour problems. The NHL referees and linesmen struck for 17 days at the start of the 1993-94 season, and the league threatened to lock out the players from training camp before the 1994-95 campaign.

      During the 1993-94 regular season, the changes started early. Under its new commissioner, Gary Bettman, the NHL discarded its historic conference names (Prince of Wales and Smythe) and division names in favour of geographic designations. The play-off format was also altered, giving automatic berths only to the four division winners.

      The Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas, Texas, and became the Dallas Stars. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the Miami-based Florida Panthers began play as expansion teams.

      From October 1993 to April 1994, the 26 teams played 84 games each. The division champions were the Rangers (112 points), the Pittsburgh Penguins (101 points), the Detroit Red Wings (100), and the Calgary Flames (97).

      In the first round of the Stanley Cup play-offs, the Boston Bruins eliminated the defending champion Montreal Canadiens 4 games to 3. The San Jose Sharks, a last-place team the year before, upset Detroit in the first round 4 games to 3 and took the Toronto Maple Leafs to the seventh game of the next round.

      The Rangers won easily from the New York Islanders 4 games to 0 and the Washington Capitols 4 games to 1. Then they struggled past the New Jersey Devils, winning the decisive seventh game in double overtime.

      That put the Rangers in the finals, where they had expected to be after their general manager, Neil Smith, at Keenan's urging, made late-season trades for such veterans as Glenn Anderson, Craig MacTavish, Stephane Matteau, and Brian Noonan. To get them the Rangers gave up Mike Gartner and Tony Amonte.

      Their surprising opponents in the finals were the Vancouver Canucks, whose regular-season record—41 victories, 40 losses, 3 ties—was only 14th best of the 16 teams in the play-offs. But Vancouver forced the best-of-seven finals to a seventh game on June 14 in New York City. The Rangers won it 3-2, and defenseman Brian Leetch was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy as the play-off's most valuable player.

      In Keenan's previous coaching jobs, he had lost Stanley Cup finals with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1985 and 1987 and with the Chicago Black Hawks in 1992. On July 15, 1994, he resigned from the Rangers, saying that the team's management had breached his five-year contract by being a day late in paying a play-off bonus within 30 days of the last game. Two days later he signed with St. Louis.

      On July 24 Bettman suspended Keenan for 60 days and ordered the Rangers to pay part of the bonus. He also fined St. Louis $250,000 for signing Keenan, Detroit $25,000 for approaching him about a coaching job, and the Rangers $25,000 for suing Keenan in federal court (even though the suit was later withdrawn).

      In mid season centre Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings broke Gordie Howe's NHL career record of 801 goals. He also became the season scoring champion with 130 points, ahead of centre Sergey Fedorov of Detroit, who had 120 points. In September 1993 Gretzky had agreed to the most lucrative contract in hockey history, $25.5 million over three years. Fedorov, a 24-year-old Russian, won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player and the Selke Trophy as the outstanding defensive forward. Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman for the fifth time, and Gretzky took the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for gentlemanly play for the fourth time. The all-star team consisted of Dominik Hasek of the Buffalo Sabres in goal, Scott Stevens of New Jersey and Bourque on defense, Fedorov at centre, and Pavel Bure of Vancouver and Brendan Shanahan of St. Louis at wing.

      The 28-year-old Lemieux, the Pittsburgh Penguin centre, worn down from four years of medical problems, announced that he would not play the 1994-95 season. He was in frequent pain from an old stress fracture of the spine, and he developed anemia from radiation treatment for Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

      When the NHL's 58 referees and linesmen struck, they were replaced by 70 officials from minor and junior leagues. The strike ended with a four-year contract providing higher salaries and severance pay and other benefits. The club owners decided that they wanted to tie player salaries to team revenues, which would result in a salary cap. The players wanted no part of that, talks broke down in December, and the 1994-95 season was threatened. NHL players were allowed to play for European teams during the dispute. (FRANK LITSKY)

      Twice in 10 weeks Canada, able to field more top NHL players than usual, was featured in crucial penalty shoot-outs. It achieved its first world title in 33 years on May 8, 1994, after being denied an Olympic gold medal in an equally nail-biting final on February 27.

      The 58th world championship was contested by a record 36 nations, requiring an enlarged two-section Pool C. The 12 title-contending countries in Pool A—staged at Bolzano, Canazei, and Milan, all in Italy—were split into two groups of six and provided surprisingly one-sided semifinals. The U.S., after gaining an upset 3-1 quarterfinal victory over defending champion Russia, lost to Finland 8-0, a margin due in no small measure to an early injury to the U.S. goalie, Guy Hebert, who had excelled against the Russians.

      In the second semifinal Canada's hard checking, skillful skating, accurate passing, and lethal shooting overwhelmed Sweden 6-0. Sweden, the Olympic champion, defeated the U.S. 7-2 in the play-off for third place. Canada and Finland then provided a truly memorable final. The first two periods were goalless, and goalies Bill Ranford (Canada) and Jarmo Myllys (Finland) thus become recipients of player-of-the-match awards. The Finns at last ended the stalemate when talented passing between Janne Laukannen and Mika Nieminen enabled Esa Keskinen to slide the puck under Ranford. Less than five minutes before the end of the game, the Finns' dreams of gold were thwarted as Rod Brind'Amour took a pass from Luc Robitaille to beat Myllys with a slap shot from 6 m (20 ft) out.

      Ten minutes of sudden-death overtime failed to produce a score, moving the game to every goalkeeper's nightmare, the penalty shoot-out. Robitaille and Joe Sakic each found the net for Canada before goals from Jari Kurri and Mikko Makela evened the score at 2-2 after five shots apiece. Robitaille then netted and Nieminen missed, and the ice was quickly awash with jubilant, much-relieved Canadians.

      Much interest centred on the return of Great Britain to Pool A after a 32-year absence but, despite the inclusion of 15 British passport-holding Canadians on the team, the glory was short-lived, ending in Britain's relegation to Pool B after it lost all six of its matches. After eight games apiece the tournament's three leading point scorers were Mats Sundin (Sweden) with 14, Paul Kariya (Canada) 12, and Saku Koivu (Finland) 11.

      Promoted to replace Britain was Switzerland, which dropped only one point in an eight-team round-robin Pool B in Copenhagen. Latvia and Poland, second and third, respectively, were clearly stronger than the other five. China, without a win, was demoted. By winning Group 1 of Pool C, the host nation, Slovakia, gained promotion to Pool B. North Korea, at the bottom of Group 1, changed places with Estonia, the top nation in Group 2 of Pool C, contested in Barcelona, Spain. South Africa, finishing last in Group 2, was required to requalify for the season to follow.

      The Olympic Games tournament, in February at Lillehammer, Norway, though dwarfed in importance by the world championships, enjoyed the usual wider public following through worldwide television coverage. Twelve nations competed. Finland defeated Russia 4-0 to gain the bronze medal, and then Canada and Sweden sweated out a title-deciding final as close as that in the world championship. Sweden went ahead early and, after a second session with no further score, the Canadians drew level 2-2 in a pulsating third period. Overtime failed to settle the issue, and Peter Forsberg netted for Sweden the goal that won the gold medal in another penalty shoot-out. In the final ranking fourth-place Russia was followed by the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, and the United States.

      TPS Turku of Finland won the 17th European Cup, contested by national club champions, by beating Dynamo Moscow of Russia 4-3 in the final at Düsseldorf, Germany. Malmö IF of Sweden, the defending champions, finished third by defeating Milan of Italy 4-3. (HOWARD BASS)

▪ 1994

      Off the ice the National Hockey League (NHL), the major league in the United States and Canada, underwent reshaping before and during the 1992-93 season. On the ice the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup play-offs, ending the Pittsburgh Penguins' two-year reign, but the year's most intriguing and most productive player was the Penguins' 27-year-old centre and captain, Mario Lemieux.

North America.

      In 1992 dissident club owners forced out John Ziegler as the league president, named Gil Stein as a temporary replacement, and chose Gary Bettman as the league's first commissioner. On Feb. 1, 1993, Bettman, the National Basketball Association's 40-year-old senior vice president and general counsel, took office as the NHL commissioner. Stein later left the NHL, and Bettman started to remodel the league.

      Bettman supervised a realignment of divisions for the 1993-94 season, with new division names as well. The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators started play in 1992 as expansion teams, and future franchises were awarded to Anaheim, Calif., and Miami, Fla., for $50 million each, raising the league total to 26 teams. National television coverage improved.

      In the Dale Hunter case, Bettman showed that he would try to reduce unnecessary roughness and thus make the game more attractive to television. In a play-off game, when Hunter of the Washington Capitals rammed into Pierre Turgeon of the New York Islanders from the blind side seconds after Turgeon had scored, Turgeon suffered a shoulder separation. The league suspended Hunter for 21 games, representing the first quarter of the 1993-94 season. It was the NHL's longest suspension for an on-ice incident.

1992-93 Season.
      From October 1992 to April 1993, each team played 84 regular-season games (up from 80). Pittsburgh ended the season with 17 consecutive victories—a league record—and then a tie. It recorded the league's best record—56 victories, 21 losses, and 7 ties for 119 points. The other division champions were the Boston Bruins (109 points), the Chicago Blackhawks (106), and the Vancouver Canucks (101).

      Montreal (102 points) had the sixth highest total and became one of the 16 teams to qualify for the play-offs. The New York Rangers, who had the best regular-season record the year before, finished last in their division with 79 points and did not reach the play-offs. The Minnesota North Stars also did not gain the play-offs, and after the season they moved to Dallas, Texas, after 26 years in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

      In the play-offs Montreal swept by the Quebec Nordiques (4 games to 2), the Buffalo Sabres (4-0), and the Islanders (4-1). The surprising Los Angeles Kings also advanced to the finals by upsetting the Calgary Flames (4-2), the Vancouver Canucks (4-2), and the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-3).

      In the cup finals Montreal won three consecutive games in overtime and took the title four games to one. Montreal's 16-4 play-off record included 12 victories by one goal. Of those one-goal games, 11 were decided in overtime, and Montreal won 10 of them. The cup was Montreal's 24th, the most by any NHL team. The victory was especially rewarding for Jacques Demers, in his first season as Montreal coach, and goalie Patrick Roy, who was voted the Most Valuable Player in the play-offs.

      Before the season Lemieux signed a seven-year contract for $42 million, the highest in NHL history. Early in the season he was found to have Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes, and he missed 7 weeks and 23 games while undergoing 22 radiation treatments. Despite that, he returned and won the scoring title with 160 points in 60 games and received the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion, the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player, and the Bill Masterton Trophy for dedication and sportsmanship. The other scoring leaders were Teemu Selanne of the Winnipeg Jets and Aleksandr Mogilny of Buffalo in goals (76 each) and Adam Oates of the Boston Bruins in assists (97).

      Wayne Gretzky, Lemieux's predecessor as the league's outstanding player, missed almost the first half of the season with a herniated disk in the upper back. The Los Angeles Kings' centre scored 65 points in 45 games, by far his lowest output. But a healthier Gretzky became the leading scorer in the play-offs with 40 points in 24 games, including a record eight hat tricks (three goals in a game).

      Chris Chelios of Chicago won the Norris Memorial Trophy as the best defenseman, Ed Belfour of Chicago the Vezina Trophy for goaltending, Doug Gilmour of Toronto the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward, Turgeon of the New York Islanders the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly play, Selanne the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year, and Pat Burns of Toronto the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year. The all-star team consisted of Roy in goal, Ray Bourque of Boston and Chelios on defense, Lemieux at centre, and Luc Robitaille of Los Angeles and Selanne on wing.


      A young Russian team, including only five players who had competed the previous year, won the 57th world championship by defeating Sweden, the defending champion, 3-1 in the Pool A final before a crowd of 10,500 in Munich, Germany. For the second year a 12-team pool had been split into two round-robin groups, played this time in Germany on April 18-May 2 at Dortmund and Munich. The first stage produced eight quarterfinalists. In the semifinals, which provided the best hockey of the tournament, the Czech Republic was beaten by Sweden, and Canada, thus far undefeated, lost to the Russians.

      The first semifinal found the Czechs reeling from a Swedish goal by Charles Berglund in just 63 seconds, but Jiri Dolezal and Radek Toupal hit back for a 2-1 Czech lead at the first interval. Ulf Dahlen evened the score with the only goal of the middle session, and a third goal for Sweden from Mikael Renberg seemed enough for a Scandinavian victory until a last-minute equalizer by Drahomir Kadlec sent the game into sudden-death overtime. The issue was settled by Thomas Rundqvist, at 33 the oldest player on either side, with a shot that Petri Briza, the Czech goaltender, partially saved, only to turn and helplessly watch the puck trickle over the line for a 4-3 defeat.

      The second semifinal was hardly less absorbing. Shayne Corson's opener for Canada after seven minutes was answered four minutes later by Dmitry Yuskevich. Early in the second period, Dave Manson and Corson scored power-play goals 12 seconds apart to put Canada 3-1 in front, but the Russians rose impressively to the challenge with goals from German Titov, Konstantin Astrakhantsev, Vyacheslav Bykov, and Andrey Khomutov to gain a 5-3 advantage at the second break. Eric Lindros briefly revived Canada's fading hopes, but scores by Valery Karpov and Titov sealed a 7-4 victory that prompted an admission from the Canadian coach, Mike Keenan, that "Russia outplayed us substantially."

      In the final, Titov put Russia ahead after 99 seconds, jumping over the Swedish goaltender, Tommy Soderstrom, to slide the puck home. Andrey Nikoliskin increased the lead in the eighth minute after taking a pinpoint pass from Karpov. The Swedish forwards then pressed hard, but Andrey Trefilov, the Russian goalie who played in Canada for the Calgary Flames, withstood the onslaught and, in the 28th minute, Khomutov netted Russia's third score. Renberg prevented Trefilov's shutout with Sweden's lone goal midway through the final period.

      The Czechs took the bronze medal by defeating Canada 5-1 in a third-place play-off. Switzerland was relegated to Pool B after placing fourth the previous year. The aggregate attendance at the 41 Pool A games was 226,379. The pool's top scorer was Lindros, with 17 points from 11 goals and 6 assists. Next best were veteran Khomutov, 12, and two more Canadians, Corson and Manson, 10 apiece. Briza was nominated best goaltender of the tournament. The award of best defender was given to Yuskevich, and Lindros was elected the best forward.

      An eight-team Pool B, at Eindhoven, Neth., on March 25-April 4, was the only section of the world championship decided by a straightforward round-robin and provided the sensation of the championship when Great Britain convincingly won promotion to Pool A after an absence of 31 years from the sport's elite. Britain not only topped Pool B at its first attempt, following promotion from Pool C the previous season, but did so by winning all seven of its matches.

      Including a rich vein of Canadians who had gained British nationality, the team never faltered after defeating its most dangerous rival, runner-up Poland, 4-3 in the opening game. Kevin Conway achieved the distinction of scoring the winning goal in three of the matches. World champion in 1936, twice runner-up, and twice bronze medalist, the nation that had pioneered the sport suffered a demise in the mid-1960s because of a lack of suitable rinks. The 1993 achievement was a culmination of a determined renaissance over the past decade.

      Pool C, contested by 12 teams, was won by Latvia, with Ukraine runner-up and Kazakhstan third. Latvia gained promotion to Pool B, switching with Bulgaria.

      Malmö IF of Sweden captured the European Cup, contested by national club champions, by beating Dynamo Moscow of Russia 4-3 in the final at Düsseldorf, Germany, on Dec. 30, 1992. Jokerit Helsinki of Finland finished third by defeating Lions Mediolanum of Italy 4-2.


* * *

  game between two teams, each usually having six players, who wear skates and compete on an ice rink. The object is to propel a vulcanized rubber disk, the puck, past a goal line and into a net guarded by a goaltender, or goalie. With its speed and its frequent physical contact, ice hockey has become one of the most popular of international sports. The game is an Olympic sport, and worldwide there are more than a million registered players performing regularly in leagues. It is perhaps Canada's most popular game.


      Until the mid-1980s it was generally accepted that ice hockey derived from English field hockey and Indian lacrosse and was spread throughout Canada by British soldiers in the mid-1800s. Research then turned up mention of a hockeylike game, played in the early 1800s in Nova Scotia by the Mi'kmaq (Micmac) Indians, which appeared to have been heavily influenced by the Irish game of hurling; it included the use of a “hurley” (stick) and a square wooden block instead of a ball. It was probably fundamentally this game that spread throughout Canada via Scottish and Irish immigrants and the British army. The players adopted elements of field hockey, such as the “bully” (later the face-off) and “shinning” (hitting one's opponent on the shins with the stick or playing with the stick on one “shin” or side); this evolved into an informal ice game later known as shinny or shinty. The name hockey—as the organized game came to be known—has been attributed to the French word hoquet (shepherd's stick). The term rink, referring to the designated area of play, was originally used in the game of curling in 18th-century Scotland. Early hockey games allowed as many as 30 players a side on the ice, and the goals were two stones, each frozen into one end of the ice. The first use of a puck instead of a ball was recorded at Kingston Harbour, Ontario, Canada, in 1860.

Early organization
      The first recorded public indoor ice hockey game, with rules largely borrowed from field hockey, took place in Montreal's Victoria Skating Rink in 1875 between two teams of McGill University students. Unfortunately, the reputation for violence that the game would later develop was presaged in this early encounter, where, as The Daily British Whig of Kingston, Ontario, reported, “Shins and heads were battered, benches smashed and the lady spectators fled in confusion.” The first organized team, the McGill University Hockey Club, formed in 1877, codified their game's rules and limited the number of players on a side to nine.

      By the late 1800s ice hockey competed with lacrosse as Canada's most popular sport. The first national hockey organization, the Amateur Hockey Association (AHA) of Canada (which limited players to seven a side), was formed in Montreal in 1885, and the first league was formed in Kingston during the same year, with four teams: the Kingston Hockey Club, Queen's University, the Kingston Athletics, and the Royal Military College. Queen's University scored a 3–1 victory over the Athletics in the first championship game.

      By the opening of the 20th century, sticks were being manufactured, shin pads were worn, the goaltender began to wear a chest protector (borrowed from baseball), and arenas (still with natural ice and no heat for spectators) were being constructed throughout eastern Canada. In 1893 national attention was focused on the game when the Canadian governor-general, Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston, donated a cup to be given annually to the top Canadian team. The three-foot-high silver cup became known as the Stanley Cup and was first played for in 1893–94. The first winner was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association team; since 1917 the cup has gone to the winner of the National Hockey League play-offs.

      In 1899 the Canadian Amateur Hockey League was formed. All hockey in Canada at the time was “amateur,” it being “ungentlemanly” to admit to being paid for athletic services. Thus the first acknowledged professional hockey team in the world was formed in the United States, in 1903, in Houghton, Michigan. The team, the Portage Lakers, was owned by a dentist named J.L. Gibson, who imported Canadian players. In 1904 Gibson formed the first acknowledged professional league, the International Pro Hockey League. Canada accepted professional hockey in 1908 when the Ontario Professional Hockey League was formed. By that time Canada had become the centre of world hockey.

League rivalries
      The National Hockey Association (NHA), the forerunner of the National Hockey League (NHL), was organized in 1910 and became the strongest hockey association in North America. Rising interest in the game created problems, however, for there were few artificial-ice rinks. In 1911 the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) was formed by Joseph Patrick and his sons, who built two enclosed artificial-ice arenas, beginning a boom in the construction of artificial-ice rinks.

      The PCHA became involved in a money and player war with the NHA. Although the NHA ultimately emerged as the stronger league, it was the PCHA that introduced many of the changes that improved the game. The only radical rule change adopted by the NHA was to reduce the number of players on a side to six, and that move was made to save money. The western league retained seven-man hockey, but it allowed the goalie to leap or dive to stop the puck. Under the previous rules, a goalie had had to remain stationary when making a save. The western league also changed the offside rule. Under the old rules, a player had been deemed offside if he was ahead of the puck carrier when he received a pass. The PCHA divided the ice into three zones by painting two blue lines across the surface and allowed forward passing in the centre zone between the blue lines. This opened up the game and made it more exciting. Another innovation in the western league was the idea of the assist. Previously, only the goal scorer had been credited with a point. In the PCHA the player or players who set up his goal were credited with an assist. The first numbered uniforms also appeared in their league.

      Like some of its predecessors, the NHA had its dissenters. In a move to eject one of the league members, the NHA decided to disband and form a new league. The result was the creation in 1917 of the National Hockey League (NHL), which became the world's foremost professional hockey league. In 1924 the first U.S. team, the Boston Bruins, joined the NHL. In 1925 the New York Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates were admitted, followed in 1926 by the New York Rangers, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Detroit Cougars (later called the Red Wings). To stock the new teams, the NHL bought out the Patricks' league in 1926 for $250,000. Among the players who shifted to Boston was Eddie Shore, known as a “rushing” defenseman, whose style helped change the game. He was one of the sport's most ferocious and, many experts say, most skilled players, a forerunner of such future NHL players as Gordie Howe (Howe, Gordie), who played mostly for the Detroit Red Wings. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Americans eventually dropped out of the league, and, until the expansion of 1967, the NHL was composed of only six teams: the Rangers, the Bruins, the Blackhawks, the Red Wings, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Montreal Canadiens.

      In 1967 the NHL undertook one of the greatest expansions in professional sports history when it doubled in size to 12 teams. A new 12-team league, the World Hockey Association (WHA), was formed in 1972, and the ensuing rivalry caused an escalation in players' salaries. In 1979 the NHL, which had grown to 17 teams, merged with the WHA to become a 21-team league; by 1999, 30 teams played in the NHL. In 2004, owners locked out players, insisting that they accept a salary cap that would slow the rapid growth of payroll costs. The players rejected the owners' demands, and the entire 2004–05 season was cancelled. The regular season consists of 82 games and determines the 16 teams that will qualify for the play-offs. The play-off winner is awarded the Stanley Cup.

      NHL individual awards are the Vezina Trophy, for the goalie voted best at his position by NHL managers; the William M. Jennings Trophy, for the goalie or goalies with the team permitting the fewest goals; the Calder Memorial Trophy, for the rookie of the year; the Hart Memorial Trophy, for the most valuable player; the James Norris Memorial Trophy, for the outstanding defenseman; the Art Ross Trophy, for the top point scorer; the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, for the player best combining clean play with a high degree of skill; the Conn Smythe Trophy, for the play-offs' outstanding performer; the Frank J. Selke Trophy, for the best defensive forward; the Jack Adams Award, for the coach of the year; the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, for the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, perseverance, and dedication to hockey; and the Lester Patrick Trophy, for outstanding service to U.S. hockey.

International ice hockey
      For much of the 20th century, amateur athletes dominated international competition. League competition among amateurs in England began in 1903. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) was formed in Europe in 1908. Its five original members were Great Britain, Bohemia, Switzerland, France, and Belgium. The first European championship was held at Avants, Switzerland, in 1910, with Great Britain the winner. From that time the federation broadened its membership, taking applicants from the world over. Canada captured the first Olympic Games title in 1920 and, concurrently, the first IIHF world championship. Canada, which also won at the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924, dominated international competition until the emergence of the Soviet team in the early 1960s. The Soviets continued to be the most powerful team in international hockey until the 1990s and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

      In 1995 an agreement between the NHL, the NHL Players' Association, and the IIHF ended amateur domination of international play as professional athletes were allowed to compete at the Olympics and World Cup championships. Although the decision had little effect on the world tournament, the Winter Games competition underwent numerous changes. Given the high visibility of professional players and their skills, selection to the Canadian, U.S., Russian, Finnish, Swedish, and Czech Olympic teams was no longer based on tryouts but rather on the decisions of hockey personnel from each country's national hockey governing body. The six "dream teams" were automatically placed in the final round of eight; the two remaining slots were filled by the winners of a qualifying round. The NHL suspended play for a period of 16 days in 1998 so professional players could make their Olympic debut in Nagano, Japan.

Women's hockey
      Though considered a male sport, hockey has been played by women for over 100 years. The first all-female game was in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, in 1892, and the first world championship was held in 1990. Recognizing the growing popularity of the sport, the International Olympic Committee added women's ice hockey to its 1998 schedule at Nagano, where the sport made its first Winter Games appearance.

Play of the game

Rink and equipment
 NHL hockey is typically played on a standard-size rink shaped like a round-cornered rectangle that is 200 feet (61 metres) long and 85 feet (26 metres) wide. International rinks are usually 184–200 feet by 85–98 feet (see illustration—>), and U.S. college rinks are typically 200 feet by 100 feet. The goal cage is 4 feet (1.2 metres) high and 6 feet (1.8 metres) wide. Any shot that completely clears the goal line, a 2-inch- (5-cm-) wide stripe on the ice across the front of the cage, is a goal. In front of the goal is the crease, a semicircular area that corresponds to a circle with a 6-foot radius, demarcated by a red line. When the goalie is in the crease, no attacking player may enter unless the puck is there as well; if the goalie is not in the crease, however, anyone may enter. The blue lines that divide the ice into three zones are 60 feet (18 metres) out from the goal line and are painted across the width of the ice. The area between the blue lines is called the neutral zone. This zone is bisected by the red centre line.

      Virtually all equipment—for children, amateurs, or professionals—is the same. Made of vulcanized rubber, the puck is 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick and 3 inches (7.6 cm) in diameter and weighs 5.5 to 6 ounces (156 to 170 grams). Hockey sticks, once made from wood, are now formed from a variety of materials. Rules are enforced limiting the size of the stick and the curvature of its blade. Forwards and defensemen wear the same type of skates, but goaltenders have flatter blades because they need more balance and are stationary for longer periods. The shoes of goaltenders' skates are fitted with rubber protection for the toes. Players wear padding under their uniforms to protect legs, shoulders, and arms. Since 1979–80 all players entering the NHL must wear helmets; helmets and face masks are mandatory in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and IIHF play. The goaltender wears a specially designed mask (often molded to the contours of his face) with a plastic guard that protects the throat area.

      Over his uniform a goalie wears extra equipment. Pads up to 11 inches (25.4 cm) wide protect him from the tips of his skates to above his knees. They not only afford protection but also aid in blocking shots. On his free hand the goalie wears a glove similar to a first baseman's baseball mitt, with a wide webbing that enables him to catch the puck. The stick hand is encased in a glove with a wide backing that protects his arm. The goalie's stick has a wider shaft and blade than those of the other players. Fully dressed, goaltenders carry up to 40 pounds (18 kg) of equipment.

Rules and principles of play
      The modern game on every level—amateur, collegiate, international, and professional—has been influenced largely by the NHL.

      Checking—body contact to take an opponent out of play—is permitted anywhere on the ice. In most leagues, including the NHL, players may not make or take a pass that has traveled over a red line and a blue line; if this occurs, the play is ruled offside. A face-off, in which an official drops the puck between opposing players, follows the infraction. In hockey competition that has no red line, an offside infraction involves a pass that has traveled across the two blue lines. Face-offs are held at the point of the infraction. Players who precede the puck into the attacking zone also are ruled offside, and a face-off is held at a face-off spot near the attacking blue line. A face-off also begins each period and is used as well after a goal and after any stoppage of play.

      The goalie rarely leaves his goal area. The usual alignments of the other five players are three forwards—the centre, a left wing, and a right wing—and two defensemen—a left defenseman and a right defenseman.

      A player may handle the puck as often or as long as he likes, so long as he does not close his glove on the puck or touch the puck with a stick that is higher than shoulder level. A player may not pass the puck with his open hand. The goalie, however, is generally not subject to these restrictions.

      The game is divided into three periods of 20 minutes playing time each, with a 15-minute intermission between periods. Hockey games may end in a tie unless the rules stipulate an overtime period to serve as a tiebreaker. In the case of a tie in college hockey, one 10-minute sudden-death overtime period is played in regular season play. NHL teams play a five-minute sudden-death overtime period. During the play-offs, college hockey has 10-minute overtime periods until there is a winner, while the NHL has the same system with 20-minute periods. There is generally no overtime period in international hockey; however, Olympic competition since 1994 has had a 10-minute sudden-death period, followed by a shootout if needed.

      In organized ice hockey a victory is worth two points in the standings. A tie is worth one point, and the NHL also awards a point to a team that loses in overtime. A goal counts as a point for the team, but individual points may be awarded to as many as three players for one goal. One point goes to the player who scored the goal, and a point is awarded for an assist to each of the last two of the scorer's teammates who touched the puck, providing that the opposition did not handle the puck in the interim.

      Ice hockey is the only major sport in which substitutions are permitted while the game is in play. The game is so fast and so demanding that forwards generally skate only 90 seconds at a time. Defensemen usually stay on the ice for a slightly longer period of time.

      Because of the speed and contact, there are many infractions, not all of them having to do with "hitting" penalties. Play is stopped for an offside and for the infraction called icing, which occurs when a team shoots the puck out of its zone past the other team's goal line. Icing is not called against a team when it is shorthanded; if the teams are evenhanded or if the offending team has more players than the opposing team, the puck is returned to the defensive zone of the team that iced it for the face-off. No player, however, may delay the game by intentionally shooting the puck out of the rink or by shifting the goalposts.

      Minor penalties are most commonly assessed for excessive use of the body or equipment to impede the opposition. For a minor infraction the offending player must remain in the penalty box at the side of the rink for two minutes while his team plays shorthanded. This man-advantage situation is called a power play. If the opponents score at any time during the penalty period, the penalized player may return to the ice. Penalties incurred by the goalie are served by a teammate. A major penalty for violent play results in the loss of a player for five minutes or for the remainder of the game. If major penalties are incurred simultaneously by both teams, substitutions are made and there is no shorthanded play. A game misconduct penalty for abusing an official results in the loss of a player for 10 minutes; however, a substitution is allowed, and the team does not play shorthanded.

      There are three common types of shots in hockey: the slap shot, the wrist shot, and the backhander. The slap shot has been timed at more than 100 miles an hour (160 km an hour). The slap shot differs from the wrist shot in that the player brings his stick back until it is nearly perpendicular with the ice and then brings the stick down in an arc, swatting the puck as he follows through. It is not as accurate as the wrist shot, in which the player puts his stick on the ice near the puck and without a windup snaps his wrist to fire off a shot. The backhander is taken when the puck goes to the other side of the stick from which the player normally shoots. If he is a right-handed shooter, for example, he takes the backhander from his left side. It is taken when there is not enough time to shift the puck to his normal shooting position. The backhander generally is not as hard or as accurate as the wrist shot, but it has the advantage of being taken quickly.

      Speed is an essential requirement of the game. In the sport's early days a team could get away with having a few slow defensemen. But contests at all levels became so quick that offensive and defensive roles often are reversed, and defensemen may find themselves at the forefront of the action. Slower players must have other attributes to make a team; they must, for example, be able to check well, to prevent the other players from getting past them. But, since everyone on the team handles the puck at some point during a game, a premium is placed on puck-carrying ability. The man with the puck is in control, and the play can go only so fast as he directs it. Centre Wayne Gretzky (Gretzky, Wayne), while playing for the Edmonton Oilers, was the dominant scorer in the NHL for most of the 1980s due to his outstanding puck handling and his accurate shooting and passing.

      If a forward has the puck, the defensemen trail the play. If a defenseman is leading an offensive thrust, called a "rush," one of the forwards backs him up. The opposition, meanwhile, attempts to gain control of the puck or to dislodge it. The most common way is for the defending player to poke his stick at the puck. A defender may also block, check, or hit the player with his body, as long as his action falls within the rules defining allowable contact. Ideally, the defending team's defensemen lay back, straddling their blue line, away from the boards. They then can move to the centre to halt a breakthrough or can drive a man into the boards if he attempts to go along the sides. If the attacking players find that they have difficulty in stickhandling past the opposition, they may try a long shot "on goal." They may also shoot the puck into the other team's zone and chase it, two attacking players going after the puck—one to handle the opponent, who is sure to go after it, and the other to try to wrest the puck away. The third forward, meanwhile, takes up a position about 20 feet in front of the goal, in the centre of the ice, in a spot known as the "slot." In the slot he is in position to shoot if he gets the puck. The defensemen on the attacking team take up positions on the blue line to prevent the defending team from getting a breakaway. Often the puck is passed to the defensemen, who shoot from the blue line, 60 feet out, from their position known as the "point." Long shots rarely go in, so defensemen try to keep long shots low, which gives the attackers a chance at a rebound.

      Many fans do not see goals scored in hockey because so many go in on rebounds or deflections. While a shot is taken, no attacking player may be in the goalie's crease, a rectangle eight feet across and four feet out from the goal line; but there is much physical contact in front of the net, and the puck may ricochet off a skate, a stick, or any part of the body. Any kind of shot that puts in a goal is allowable, unless the shooter has raised his stick above his elbow; but the puck may not be deliberately kicked in, and it cannot be thrown in with the hand.

      One of the most unusual spectacles in hockey occurs when a team that is trailing by one goal takes its goaltender out of the net in the final seconds of the game. The goalie is replaced by a forward in the hope that the extra man on offense will give the team a chance for a tie. Another rare and exciting play is the penalty shot, which is called when a stick is thrown to deflect a shot or when a player with an open path to the goal is pulled down from behind. The team against which the infraction was committed selects a player to skate unopposed to the opponent's goal and take one shot to beat the goalie; this generally results in a score for the shooting team.

      All NHL and international games and many collegiate games are under the control of one referee, two linesmen, and various off-ice officials. Referees are responsible for calling penalties and are the final arbiters of whether a goal has been scored, though the NHL allows officials off ice to review videotape and determine the legality of a goal. Linesmen call offsides and icing infractions; they may also stop play in order to inform a referee that a team has too many players on the ice. In some collegiate games in the U.S. two referees and no linesmen or two referees and one linesman are used, one of the referees being the final arbiter of disagreements. The IIHF sanctions the two-referee system for games under the jurisdiction of national federations. The goal judges are stationed behind each cage in a raised booth behind the boards, and they flip a switch that stops the clock and triggers a red light when they see the puck cross the goal line. The other officials are the penalty timekeeper, the game timekeeper, and the official scorer, who credits players for goals and assists and also keeps track of the goalie's saves, or stops.

Gerald Eskenazi Stanley I. Fischler Shirley W. Fischler

Winners of select ice hockey championships

Stanley Cup winners
       Stanley Cup TableThe table provides a chronological list of Stanley Cup winners.

Men's world hockey championship
       World Hockey Championshipmen World Hockey ChampionshipmenThe table provides a chronological list of winners of the men's world hockey championship.

Women's world hockey championship
       World Hockey Championshipwomen World Hockey ChampionshipwomenThe table provides a chronological list of winners of the women's world hockey championship.

Additional Reading
The history of the game is presented in Brian McFarlane, 60 Years of Hockey: The Intimate Story Behind North America's Fastest, Most Exciting Sport: Complete Statistics and Records (1976); S. Kip Farrington, Jr., Skates, Sticks, and Men: The Story of Amateur Hockey in the United States (1971); Jay Greenberg, Frank Orr, and Gary Ronberg, NHL, the World of Professional Ice Hockey (1981), with profiles of players and discussion of strategy, great games, and the sport's eccentrics; Stan Fischler and Shirley Fischler, Everybody's Hockey Book (1983), analyzing the structure, organization, and rules of every level from NCAA and IIHF through NHL; and J.W. Fitsell, Hockey's Captains, Colonels, & Kings (1987), exploring the Canadian origins of the game and including many new research findings. See also National Hockey League, Official Guide & Record Book (annual).Stanley I. Fischler Shirley W. Fischler

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Universalium. 2010.

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