September 12, 2006
CBC doc shows roots of hockey
By LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun
Like most Canadians who grew up holding a hockey stick, Mark Starowicz smugly believed his knowledge of the game and its roots was superior to any Yank he might encounter in a tavern sports debate.
But when the producer of Hockey: A People's History began getting feedback from six field crews chipping away at a century of lore for the 10-part TV series, Starowicz realized that he -- and the nation -- were missing a great story.
"It was like doing a history of hockey and people at the same time," said Starowicz, whose look at the game from the 1800s to 2006 begins Sunday on CBC. "Sure, there have been a lot of books on hockey, but only two give what I'd call the big picture, The Game (by Ken Dryden) and Putting A Roof On Winter (by Michael McKinley).
ISN'T ABOUT NHL
"So we dug up old letters and went into the attics. This series isn't about the National Hockey League or the business of hockey, but how ordinary people shaped the game. A lot of it will be news to a lot of fans."
Starowicz, found that violence in hockey is not a 20th-century scourge. The first recorded game in Montreal's Victoria Skating Club in 1875 ended with a brawl, not between players, but sparked by pleasure skaters who demanded their ice back. Four players were killed in hockey-related injuries in the sport's formative years.
ADVANCES IN B.C.
Contrary to hockey's reputation as a working-class game, it was first adopted by upper-crust students at McGill and even the children of Lord Stanley of Preston. And though Toronto is considered the centre of the hockey universe today, the great advances of the game took place in British Columbia, where the Patrick brothers built the first artificial rinks and introduced the blue line, forward pass, line changes, playoffs and mobile goalies.