McGill is arguably the birthplace of hockey – although Kingston, Halifax, Dartmouth and Windsor have also laid claim to the title, depending on how hockey is defined. But McGillians undoubtedly had a hand in shaping the sport as it’s played today.
The first game of organized indoor hockey took place on March 3, 1875, at the Victoria Skating Rink in downtown Montreal. Civil engineer James Creighton, BCL1880, organized the game, and many of the players were McGill students.
The world’s first official hockey team, the McGill Hockey Club, made its debut two years later, with players Richard F. Smith, BSc’1883, W. F. Robertson, BSc’1880, and W. L. Murray refining the rules and introducing a rubber puck carved out of a lacrosse ball. In 1911, Frank Patrick, BA’1908, and his brother Lester (who dropped out of McGill to play hockey professionally) created the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). The PCHA rivaled the National Hockey Association – soon to be the National Hockey League – thanks in large part to the Patricks’ innovations: Canada’s first artificial ice hockey rinks, penalty shots, numbered jerseys, “on-the-fly” line changes, assists and the blue line. The Patrick brothers sold their league along with its rules to the NHL in 1926, and both men were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.