History of the Hockey Puck

Ok all you hockey fans out there, we know there is one question that you have been seeking answers to and we are about to answer some questions about, yes you guessed it, the hockey puck.  Of course in today’s game of hockey, the puck is the black rubberized disc that the players are in pursuit of on the ice.  It is the object used to score a goal.  Just as a ball in baseball, tennis or golf is used, the hockey puck is the focus of attention in the game of ice hockey.

The word puck may have been derived from the word poke or puc.  According to dictionary.reference.com, the origin of the word puck dates back to the mid to late nineteenth century.  However it is believed that the word puck may have originated from the Irish as a reference to the word poke in the game of hurling.  The word puck was made mainstream in Canada in 1867 with its first printed use in Montreal. Rumors suggest that a black rubber ball was cut in half to create the hockey puck as we know it today.

Ice Hockey PuckDefinition of hockey puck:  a hard rubber disc used in the game of ice hockey.

Early pucks were made of either wood or rubber.  Today’s hockey pucks are made of rubber and typically measure three inches in diameter and are one inch thick.  The weight of a puck is approximately six ounces.  The edges of a hockey puck consist of a mesh-like or diamond-like pattern that makes it easier for the puck to adhere to a hockey stick with a taped blade.  Hockey pucks are typically frozen so that they do not bounce around on the ice and as a result are easier to control by the players.  In many leagues, the pucks are contained in a cooler to ensure that they remain frozen at all times.

Hockey Puck Fun Facts

  • Did you know that hockey pucks are only produced in four countries?  Canada, Russia, China and the Czech Republic.
  • Excess rubber from the manufacturing process is collected, shaved/re-shred, and used again to make new pucks
  • NHL regulation pucks were designed by Art Ross in 1940.
  • The hardest ever recorded speed for a slapshot of the puck is open for debate.  In 1965, NHL all-stars were timed and Bobby Hull had an 118.3 MPH Slapshot.  More recently, Dennis Kulyash of KHL’s Avangard Omsk, reportedly shot a puck 110.3 MPH.  Al Iafrate’s shot was clocked at 105.2 MPH (with a wooden stick).  In today’s age with composite sticks, Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins has been clocked shooting 108.8 MPH during the 2012 NHL All-Star game.  We will give the title to Bobby Hull (accurate measurement or not).
  • Pucks are often packed for shipping in cases of 100
  • It is estimated that about 40 million hockey pucks are sold per year

The composition of the puck has remained relatively unchanged for seventy or eighty years until the mid-nineties.  In order to further promote the game in the United States, Fox Sports introduced the “comet puck” in the mid-90’s.  According to this source:

During the 1995-1996 NHL season, a slightly different puck was introduced. While the outside of the puck remained the same, the inside and effect was totally different. That year, the Fox television network obtained the rights to air the NHL All-Star Game and the Stanley Cup playoffs. Fox believed that to attract new viewers to the game, the network had to make the small looking puck easier to follow on television. To that end, they developed an enhanced puck called the FoxTrax puck. It contained a computer board and battery at its center and 20-pin holes all over the puck (12 on the edges, four on top, and four on the bottom) that guided infrared emitters, each beeping approximately 30 pulses per minute. These emitters communicated with 16 sensoring devices placed around the rink to follow the puck’s movement.

When a player shot the puck at speeds exceeding 50 mph (80 kph), a red comet-like tail appeared on television. If the puck reached speeds over 75 mph (120 kph), the tail was green.  This experiment was short lived as the television contract with Fox expired after the 1998-1999 NHL season.  Not to mention the cost to create the “halo-puck” was rumored to be in the $400-500 range per puck.

Hockey Pucks:  How They Are Made

The dangers of errant hockey pucks cannot be understated.  In 2002, in an NHL game between the Calgary Flames and Columbus Blue Jackets in Columbus, a shot by the Blue Jackets’ Espen Knutsen was deflected by the Flames’ Derek Morris and went over the glass behind the net, striking Brittanie Cecil in the left temple.  Two days later Cecil passed away as a result of her injuries.  Today all NHL rinks, and many minor league rinks now featuring netting above the glass protecting spectators from deflected pucks that fly over the glass or boards.

There is a lot of history with the hockey puck.  No one has put more pucks in the net than the Great Wayne Gretzky who scored 894 goals in the NHL.  Oh if those pucks could talk.