May 27, 2014

Charles Darwin Proves Hockey Evolved In England Before Canada?

The World Cup of Hockey was in the news recently, thanks to a Gary Bettman update that the NHL and NHLPA are trying to finalize plans to see the much-mishandled tournament return possibly as soon as 2015.

Mention of the World Cup of Hockey always reminds me of my old writing partner Patrick Houda. The two of us wrote the book on the World Cup of Hockey, quite literally, back in 2002 and 2004.

That got me wondering what Patrick has been up to lately. I have been shamefully terrible in keeping in touch with Swedish hockey historian. Trust me - I have met a lot of hockey historians in the past 20 years and none of them I trust more than Patrick Houda.

Well I didn't have to search very hard to find out what Patrick has been up to lately. He - along with Montreal's Jean-Patrice Martel (who I have conversed with many times and also have the highest respect for) and fellow Swede Dr. Carl Giden (who I have never had the pleasure of meeting) have produced a book that they say proves that hockey was first played in England and not in Canada.

Blasphemy, you say? They have some pretty neat proof though. It turns out Charles Darwin - yes, the father of evolutionary theory - was a hockey player.

The trio found hundreds of references to an on-ice game very similar to what we call hockey - or as they commonly called it, hocky - being played in England dating back to the 1790s, many years before the earliest references to the Canadian game.

One of the most interesting references is a letter by Charles Darwin that is addressed to his son in 1853.

“My dear old Willy. Have you got a pretty good pond to skate on? I used to be very fond of playing Hocky on the ice in skates..."

Houda, Giden and Martel have just presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Society for International Research. Their book, pictured above, will be released soon.

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