After the amazing performance of the Canadian teams in men’s and women’s hockey at the Pyongchang Winter Olympics in 2018, and right when the NHL has just started again after the Olympic break, we thought it was the perfect moment to talk about hockey. We’ll be reminding you this week about the cultural importance of hockey in Canada.
Ice hockey was created in Canada, and is the national sport here. So, if you plan to relocate to Canada, expect to see, hear, feel and speak hockey anywhere, anytime.
An Olympic sport since 1920, ice hockey became popular over the years and is now practised at a high level in many countries. In Canada, each big city has several professional and amateur teams, participating in local and national championships depending on the level of the team. The most famous competitions are the Stanley Cup of the professional National Hockey League (NHL) with its 31 teams from Canada and the USA; and the Ice Hockey World Championship, with the the best teams being Sweden, Canada, Russia, and Finland (based on the final ranking of the 2017 IIHF World Championship).
The “Montréal Canadians”, nicknamed “Habs”, are the oldest team still active today. The Habs won 24 Stanley Cup trophies, although the last one was won a while ago, in 1993, to the chagrin of millions of the famously loud and loyal Québec fans.
During the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, 2014, the Canadian national Men and Women teams were absolutely brilliant, winning the gold on a historic doublé. During the broadcasting of the women’s semi-finals and finals, there was a drastic drop in productivity in all lines of work across Canada during the game and many Canadians set their alarm clocks to watch the men’s final, even though it was broadcast between 4am and 8am local time in Canada. Streets were deserted but bars and pubs were full, with the City of Toronto having issued a special authorization for bars to open and serve beer as early as 7am on a Sunday!
The Canadian ice hockey teams also excelled at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, with the women’s team winning the silver medal, and the men’s team taking home the bronze.
You’ll hopefully understand a little better why hockey is the national sport in Canada. Much to the same extent as soccer is exulted in Europe, or football is revered in the USA, you will not be able to bypass this major element of the local culture. Why not go and watch a game? It’ll be a sure-fire way to help you integrate into a true Canadian lifestyle.
Photo Credits: Kane Farabaugh (VOA)