Friday, January 29, 2010

Baltimore (and DC) Hockey History: The Rules of the Game

In the last installment, we talked about the first artificial rink in Baltimore, as well as a game to go with it. However, the rules had already been understood by the participants of the game; but not so much the fans in attendance. Also, while Baltimore had plenty of club teams playing the game; down the road a ways in the Nation's Capital of Washington, D.C.; the hockey trend was just starting up.

Not to be outdone by their neighbor up north, the DC area built their first rink, the Ice Palace at Convention Hall. The DC scene was just starting to get into the hockey craze, as they had seen how well it caught on with the club teams in Baltimore. Yet, the area wasn't accustomed to the rules-- even though they had an exhibition set up for four days after the article was published on January 29th of 1896 (February 2nd, for you people not feeling like adding) between Washington and Berkley, two teams from Northwest DC thrown together.

So, rather than throw the teams out there with no direction, the owner of the Ice Palace, Manager Towers (yes, that was his name, folks), mailed the Secretary of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada to get said rules. Below are what were returned to Towers, then published by the Washington Post and you get it bit by bit-- with my commentary below it.
A team shall be composed of seven players, who shall be bonafide members of the clubs they represent. No player shall be allowed to play on more than one team in the same series during the season, in case of bonafide change of residence.
So, to start-- the seven players were very common; the goalie, two defensemen, two wings, a center, and a cover-point or rover. The ideal of switching teams in the season should be something instilled today. In any case, it seems like it's the status quo for today's standards; sans the rover-point.
The game shall be commenced and renewed by a face in the center of the rink. The puck shall be placed between the sticks of two opponents and the referee then calling "Play!!"
This way is very much like modern-day lacrosse, which hockey has been closely related to since the sport started. Though, try to do that in today's game, jockeying for position and all the unfair face-offs; it could create much havoc and much impatience abound for it all.
The rink must be at least 112 feet by 58 feet. Goals shall be six feet wide by four feet high, and shall be placed ten feet from the edge of the ice.
Odd how the size of the nets have never changed in hockey, even 110+ years after the game has started. The size of the rink, however, were amazingly small. With that size rink and more players on the ice, it could have been more congested than trap hockey with a 200 by 85 size rink.
Two half hours, with an intermission of ten minutes between, shall be the time allowed for matches. A match will be decided by the team winning the greatest number of games during that time. In case of a tie, after playing two specified half hours, play will continue until one side secures a game; unless otherwise agreed upon between the captains before the match. Goals shall be changed each half hour.
Of course, each goal is considered a "game" in this instance. Though, unless the captains decide before the game of any kind of limit-- an exhibition game could turn into playoff hockey with the amount of play between goals. Seems a bit much, but that's the old days for you. The ten minute intermission seems very briefs, even in those days; especially with the smaller surface and more players. Though the idea of 30-minute halves is something intriguing to me.
No change of players shall be made after a match has commenced, except for reason of accident or injury during the game. Should any player be injured during the match, and compelled to leave the ice, his side shall have the option of putting a spare man from the reserve to equalize the teams. In the event of any dispute between the captains of the teams as the injured man's ability to continue the game, the matter shall be at once decided by the referee.
Basically, this is NHL '94 with no line changes in it. You want to talk about iron-man hockey; this is it. The thought of no line-changes nowadays only exists in beer league hockey, where Sully has to look after the kids because the wife is sick. Interesting how another team's captain can dispute the claim of the injury. This is not a time where Mike Ribeiro would be able to play in.
When a player hits the puck, any one of the same side, who at such moment of hitting, is nearer the opponent's goal line, is out of play and may not touch the puck himself or in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so, until the puck has been played. A player must always be on his own side of the puck. The puck may be stopped, but not carried or knocked on, by any part of the body.
This is much like the soccer offsides, where a player cannot touch a puck if they are ahead of the play. Wonder how long before the forward pass was instituted. Also, like the idea of the non-tips being into effect.
No player shall raise his stick about the shoulders. Charging from behind, tripping, collaring, kicking, or shinning are barred, and any player, after having been warned by the referee, may be ruled of the ice for that game or match, or for such portion of playing time as he may see fit.
The refs were the end-all, be-all and with that power-- only imagine how they wielded the power. Plus, if you had a crucial member being sent off, who knows how long you could be without him.
The goal keeper must not, during the play, lie, kneel, or sit upon the ice, but maintain a standing position.
The perfect time for Kirk McLean. Yet, we've had two old-school hockey ideals of the NHL '94 non-line-changes and the bubble hockey goalie of not being able to move.
Goals shall be scored when the puck shall have passed between the goal post from in front, below the imaginary line across the tops of the posts.
So, while earlier it was mentioned the goals were six by four, there was really not top. We get into a rugby situation where you only have two post out there. Think of the disputes if someone though the shot was too-high. The video replay would have taken forever.
The captains of the contesting teams shall agree upon a referee and two umpires (one to be stationed behind each goal), which positions shall not be changed during the match. All disputes on the ice shall be settled by the referee, and his decision shall be final. All questions as to games shall be settled by the umpires and their decisions shall be final.
Very interesting that the captains were the ones to pick the refs, which is something you could never have today because some guys would never see work....looking at you, Kerry Fraser. But again, showing how much power the refs and umpires had in that time and still got some kind of respect.

There you have it, the first set of rules published in 1896. While much has changed, many things have stayed somewhat the same. At least the basis for it all was set out and made the proper evolution to mold to the game we know today. For those wondering, Washington defeated Berkley 1-0, but the game was only one-half long.

1 comment:

d ogo said...

very cool

godofredo