There’s no doubt that hockey is Canada’s national sport. It’s the sport that’s played countrywide, from the indoor hockey rinks of St. John’s, Newfoundland to the frozen ponds of Kamloops, BC.
Every Canadian has their own unique experience with the sport, whether it’s mourning the Toronto Maple Leafs at the end of another dreadful season or rooting for the Habs to go all the way in the playoffs.
It’s therefore no surprise that Canada’s Olympic hockey teams have dominated the sport. The men’s team has taken home a total of nine gold medals, and the women have earned five, far more than any other national team in both cases.
Canada is not alone in its quest for hockey supremacy; the United States, Russia, and Sweden also have strong hockey teams, but they don’t have the rich history of the game that Canada does.
Despite being home to only seven of the 30 teams in the NHL, Canada still produces the majority of the NHL’s best hockey players, with the sensational Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby leading the pack.
The game actually goes beyond the realm of sports and has deep ties within Canada. It has helped form our national culture and become a sacred institution that exists everywhere, from our warmest childhood memories, like reading Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater before bed, to sharing a box of Timbits from Tim Hortons.
Tim Hortons, in itself, is a great example of the intersection between hockey and Canada’s national identity. The coffee chain is synonymous with early mornings, productive afternoons, and even late nights. Tim Hortons is not just a coffee shop: it is also a major sponsor of children’s charities and sports tournaments. The franchise is named after legendary Leafs defenceman Tim Horton, after all.
While hockey is known by many to be Canada’s sport, it’s not clear when or where it originated. The first recorded organized men’s indoor game was played at Montreal’s Victoria Skating Rink in 1875 and during that time, women started playing too.
The answers to these uncertainties, however, aren’t very important. Hockey is our sport, and it is ingrained in our cultural consciousness.