CALGARY — While Canada has grown as a country over the last century, so to has it evolved as a hockey nation. Hockey Canada is marking 100 years of overseeing the sport domestically and producing teams for the world stage.
Just a few weeks after Canada entered the First World War, a group of hockey executives met in Ottawa on Dec. 14, 1914, to establish the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association.
Hockey runs like a bright thread through Canada’s timeline since then. The sport intertwines with pivotal events in the country’s history.
Many a Canadian soldier left the ice for the battlefield in both the First and Second World Wars. Many of those who returned continued to play or took on leadership as coaches and administrators.
The same year Canada celebrated its centennial in 1967, the CAHA established its first national head office in Winnipeg. A year later, the CAHA became Hockey Canada with the mandate to manage Canada’s national hockey teams as well as develop the sport across the country.
Hockey Canada will release the book “It’s Our Game” on Tuesday. The 399 pages of text and photos commemorate the last 100 years of the country’s triumphs, failures and dramas in hockey.
“For me, the first 100 years, the legacy has to be our culture and how hockey has played a huge role in the fabric of our people, of our country, of our reputation world-wide,” Tom Renney, Hockey Canada’s president and CEO, said Monday. “I think we’re deeply respected for our ability to play the game, to lead in terms of its development both domestically and abroad.
“Beyond that, I think Canadians as citizens are looked at globally as being very special people and I think hockey’s had a lot to do with the development of those values.”
As the birthplace of hockey, Canada took on the role of world leader in it. But it’s been the response to crisis that’s helped the country continue to claim ownership of it, Renney said.
Canada may have won the 1972 Summit Series, but adopting some of the off-ice training methods of the former Soviet Union was necessary lest Canadians fall behind. National hockey summits were held when it was felt the sport was sliding off the rails.
“I think Canada and its population are a humble people,” Renney said. “I think hockey gives us an opportunity to sign our work if you will on the national and international stage as being very, very good at it.
“That being said, I think the times we have tripped up have been very good to us. Because of that humility, we’ve embraced failure quite honestly and made ourselves better.”
Hockey Canada’s mission heading into the next century continues to be increasing participation in the game while also producing players for the sport’s highest levels.