Lords of the Rinks: The Emergence of the National Hockey League, 1875-1936

By John Chi-Kit Wong

© 2005

No sport is as important to Canadians as hockey. Though there may be a great many things that divide the country, the love of hockey is perhaps its single greatest unifier. Before the latest labour unrest in the National Hockey League (NHL), however, it was easy to forget that hockey is also a multi-million dollar business run, not by the athletes or coaches, but by corporate boards and businessmen. The Lords of the Rinks documents the early years of hockey’s professionalization and commercialization and the emergence of a fledgling NHL, from 1875 to 1936.

As the popularity of hockey grew in Canada in the late nineteenth century, so too did its commercial aspects, and players, club directors, rink owners, fans, and media had developed deep emotional, economic, and ideological interests in the sport. Disagreement came in the ways and means of how organized hockey, especially at the elite level, should be managed. Hence, some coordination, by way of governing bodies, was required to maintain a semblance of order. These early administrative bodies tried to maintain a structure that would help to coordinate the various interests, set up standards of behaviour, and impose mechanisms to detect and punish violators of governance. In 1917, the NHL held its first games and by 1936 had become the dominant governing body in professional hockey.

Having performed extensive research in the NHL archives – including league meeting minutes, letters, memos, telegrams, as well as gate receipt reports – John Chi-Kit Wong traces the commercial roots of hockey and argues that, in its organized form, the sport was rarely if ever without some commercial aspects despite labels such as amateur and professional. The Lords of the Rinks is the only truly comprehensive and scholarly history of the league and the business of hockey.

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Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 330 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
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SaveUP TO 9239

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SKU# SP000672

  • PUBLISHED SEP 2005

    From: $35.96

    Regular Price: $47.95

    ISBN 9780802085207
  • PUBLISHED DEC 2005

    From: $33.71

    Regular Price: $44.95

Quick Overview

The Lords of the Rinks is the only truly comprehensive and scholarly history of the league and the business of hockey.

Lords of the Rinks: The Emergence of the National Hockey League, 1875-1936

By John Chi-Kit Wong

© 2005

No sport is as important to Canadians as hockey. Though there may be a great many things that divide the country, the love of hockey is perhaps its single greatest unifier. Before the latest labour unrest in the National Hockey League (NHL), however, it was easy to forget that hockey is also a multi-million dollar business run, not by the athletes or coaches, but by corporate boards and businessmen. The Lords of the Rinks documents the early years of hockey’s professionalization and commercialization and the emergence of a fledgling NHL, from 1875 to 1936.

As the popularity of hockey grew in Canada in the late nineteenth century, so too did its commercial aspects, and players, club directors, rink owners, fans, and media had developed deep emotional, economic, and ideological interests in the sport. Disagreement came in the ways and means of how organized hockey, especially at the elite level, should be managed. Hence, some coordination, by way of governing bodies, was required to maintain a semblance of order. These early administrative bodies tried to maintain a structure that would help to coordinate the various interests, set up standards of behaviour, and impose mechanisms to detect and punish violators of governance. In 1917, the NHL held its first games and by 1936 had become the dominant governing body in professional hockey.

Having performed extensive research in the NHL archives – including league meeting minutes, letters, memos, telegrams, as well as gate receipt reports – John Chi-Kit Wong traces the commercial roots of hockey and argues that, in its organized form, the sport was rarely if ever without some commercial aspects despite labels such as amateur and professional. The Lords of the Rinks is the only truly comprehensive and scholarly history of the league and the business of hockey.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 330 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘With Lords of the Rinks, John Chi-Kit Wong has uncovered a wealth of hitherto unexamined records and correspondence to re-examine the beginnings of professional hockey. His thoughtful analysis raises provocative questions about the rise and consolidation of the National Hockey League.’


    Bruce Kidd, Professor and Dean of Physical Education and Health, University of Toronto

    ‘Clearly written and impressively researched, The Lords of the Rinks adds significantly to our knowledge of the early history of pro hockey and the National Hockey League. This is one of the most important books in Canadian sports history.’


    Morris Mott, Department of History, Brandon University

    Lords of the Rinks is a great book for any hockey historian, a superb contribution to the hockey world, and a very interesting read for any hockey fan who wants to know more about the beginnings of the game.’


    Frank Mahovlich, Member of the Senate of Canada and former forward with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and Detroit Red Wings
  • Author Information

    John Chi-Kit Wong is an assistant professor in the Sport Management Program at Washington State University.

  • Table of contents

    1 Introduction
    2 From Fraternal Hockey Clubs to Closed Corporation
    3 The Hockey Front in the Athletic War
    4 Leagues of Their Own
    5 In Search of Hockey Order
    6 An Inglorious End and an Inauspicious Beginning
    7 Going South, Part 1
    8 Going South, Part 2
    9 Birth of the Minor-League System
    10 Decline of the Ottawa Empire
    11 The Rebellion
    12 In the Best Interests of Hockey
    13 Overtime
    Appendix A: Rules of Hockey, 1877
    Appendix B: Stanley Cup Regulations
    Appendix C: National Hockey Association Constitution, 1910
    Appendix D: Binding Agreement of 1926
    Appendix E: Ottawa Gate Receipts, 1927-35
    Appendix F: Detroit Gate Receipts, 1927-35
    Appendix G: NHL Club Net Average Revenues by Year
    Brief Biographies of Hockey Personalities
    Notes
    Index

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