Origins People may never know exactly when or where hockey originated. The first versions of hockey in Aboriginal communities were most likely played with carved one-piece wooden sticks and a makeshift puck. There is evidence that hockey may have started as a winter version of a pre-lacrosse game, invented by First Nations tribes hundreds of years ago.
Origins Over one hundred years ago, the Mi’kmaq people of New Brunswick made the first one piece hockey sticks. These were used in organized leagues during the early stages of organized hockey in Canada. This helps to explain the connection Aboriginal people have to the game and why it is such an important part of Aboriginal communities today.
Fact Over the last few decades, the numbers of Aboriginal children playing hockey has increased dramatically. It may have something to do with the fact that more and more Aboriginal players are making it to the National Hockey League (NHL). Again, interest in the game is also linked to the early origins and connections First Nations have to the game.
First players The first NHL season was 1917-1918. It was not until the early 1950’s that Aboriginal people began to play in the NHL. Fred Sasakamoose was the one of the first Canadian Aboriginals to play in the NHL. He, along with George Armstrong, had a strong influence in breaking down barriers for First Nations players. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu5A1iuDPq0
Fred Sasaskamoose did not play a full season in the league, however, his being part of an NHL team was an enormous accomplishment because at the time he played, there were only 6 franchises in the NHL.
George Armstrong 'Chief' George Armstrong, spent 21 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and won 4 Stanley Cups in the 1960s. He was one of the most prominent NHLers of his generation, having captained the Leafs to their last Cup win in 1967. Go Leafs Go!!!!
George Armstrong George Armstrong didn't light-up the scoreboard like some of his teammates, but his sound positional play, dependability and strength of character made him one of the most important players to ever wear the Maple Leaf on his chest. His contributions went beyond the score sheet. Armstrong certainly chipped in offensively, recording 713 points in 21 seasons with the team, but it is his leadership and resilience for which he will be most remembered.
Notable First Nations Hockey Players Fred and George helped pave the way for many outstanding hockey players. They served as role models for many future Canadian Aboriginal hockey players.
Reggie Leach and Bryan Trottier Both of Metis descent, these men followed the leader of George and Fred. Reggie played for the Bruins, Flyers, and Red Wings. He played in two NHL All-Star games. Bryan played centre for the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. He played in the NHL All-Star game in 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986 and 1992. Later became a coach in the NHL.
Wade Redden and Sheldon Souray Sheldon, a defenceman played in the NHL All-Star game in 2004. Wade, originally from Lloydminster, SK, is a defenceman for the Ottawa Senators. He has represented Canada in many International tournaments. He played for Canada in the World Cup in 2004.
Jordin Tootoo Originally from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, he was the first Inuit to play in the NHL. Known as a very smart hockey player, he started his career with the Nashville Predators.
Carey Price Price was selected 5 th overall in the 2005 NHL entry draft. He played in the World Juniors and was named MVP in 2007. Now, he is considered an outstanding goaltender for the Canadiens.
DJ King Originally from Meadow Lake, King has proven to be a hard worker. He started his professional career in the AHL, but has become a regular player with the St. Louis Blues due to his hard work. Last year, he played for the Washington Capitals.
Exceptional and Inspiring Athletes The hockey players in this slideshow are just a few of the talented and hardworking First Nations athletes. As a country, these men have proudly represented Canadians and become role models for many young aspiring athletes. Besides hockey, First Nations athletes have contributed to many other sports!