1. EARLY HOCKEY GAMES WERE PLAYED WITH CHUNKS OF FROZEN COW DUNG
This dates back to the game’s outdoor roots. For understandable reasons, modern athletes prefer the vulcanized rubber disc we all know today…although the game might be a bit more interesting if they brought back the old method.
2. NASA USES “TWO-TON HOCKEY PUCKS” TO TRAIN ASTRONAUTS
In space travel, the threat of free-floating equipment drifting off is a very serious one. Houston’s Johnson Space Center prepares astronauts for this problem at the Precision Air Bearing Facility (PABF), which works like a gigantic air-hockey table and includes what the Center officially describes as a set of “two-ton hockey pucks” hovering over the floor. These are pushed around by aspiring astronauts.
3. THE FIRST RUBBER HOCKEY PUCKS MADE FROM…
When the sport moved indoors, whole lacrosse balls were originally used, but rink owners soon found it preferable to cut them into thirds and keep the middle section. This basic design was the standard by 1885.
4. THE HOCKEY PUCK’S “BIRTHDAY” IS IN FEBRUARY
The word “puck” was first recorded in the February 7th, 1876 edition of the Montreal Gazette, so the NHL regards this date as the hockey puck’s birthday – even though they’d already been used for decades by then.
5. A PLAYER ONCE SCORED BY DROPPING THE PUCK OUT OF HIS PANTS
When the puck got inadvertently lodged in Swedish player Alexander Wennberg’s pants, he skated behind the goalie and squatted until it plopped out. Amazingly, the goal actually counted!
6. ANGRY VOTERS ONCE TOOK TO MAILING PUCKS
In 2000, the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation urged the country’s citizens to protest their government’s $12 million bailout of domestic NHL franchises. How? By mailing oodles of hockey pucks to then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien. According to group president Walter Robinson, “When the rubber hits the Prime Minister’s office in a shower of hockey pucks, Mr. Chretien might have some sense knocked into him and respond.” The Prime Minister never revealed how many pucks he’d actually received.
7. THE FASTEST PUCK SHOT ON RECORD REACHED 114 MILES PER HOUR
The fastest slap shot was launched by KHL player Alexander Ryazantsev. The second-fastest shot was launched by fellow KHLer Denis Kulyash and was recorded at 110.43 mph. Zdeno Chara holds the record for fastest slapshot in an NHL game, when he fired one off at 105.9 mph.
8. PUCKS CAN ACTUALLY BE SPLIT DURING GAMES
It’s certainly a rare occurrence, but forwards Shane Doan and Andrew Procho have each managed to break a puck in half against a goal post during the past 5 years in their respective leagues (as has center Patrick Kane).
9. “YA HOCKEY PUCK!” WAS A FAVORITE INSULT
Though he claims he can’t remember where exactly it came from, “Don’t be a hockey puck!” has long been legendary insult comic Don Rickles’ catchphrase. This was cleverly referenced during the original Toy Story (1995) in which Mister Potato Head (voiced by Rickles) yells at an actual hockey puck.
10. THE AVERAGE NHL GAME USES A DOZEN PUCKS
Players are required to use frozen pucks which are easier to control than unaltered pucks, but these tend to thaw quickly. Thus, they’re constantly replaced by officials and an average of 12 come into play per game, though as many as 22 have been recorded. (The last NHL game to use only a single puck—which is currently on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame—was in 1979.)