Most sports across the globe use sometype of a ball but the game of ice hockey uses a puck as it’sdesigned to slide across the ice. With the average NHL game goingthrough a dozen pucks it’s easy to see why fans and players takethese small black discs for granted. However, you may be surprised byjust how much information is out there concerning the history andconstruction of the hockey puck.
A hockey puck is a solid, flat black disc which is made with vulcanized rubber. Pucks are made in several factories across the world in the nations of Canada, Slovakia, Russia, Czech Republic and China. Pro leagues use frozen pucks during games to help eliminate their bounce and to stop them from sticking to the ice.
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Regulation sized puck
A regulation-sized puck used by the NHL is three inches in diameter (75 millimeters), an inch (25 millimeters) thick and varies in weight between 5.5 and 6 ounces (154 to 170 grams). The side of a puck comes with dozens of very small and textured raised grooves embedded into it which gives a hockey stick something to grip onto when handling and shooting it.
Various-sized smaller and larger ice hockey pucks are also manufactured with differing weights and are often used in children’s hockey leagues.
These unofficial pucks, as well as souvenir and practice models, can often be found in colors other than black. Many pucks also have team or league logos silk-screened into the top or bottom of them.
In the late 1800’s, frozen cow dung, rubber balls and blocks of wood were often used in the game of ice hockey. It’s believed the puck was first invented in 1875 when the rounded edges were cut off of a rubber ball to stop it from bouncing. The word puck was first used to describe the object in 1876
In the early 1900’s pucks were made out of two pieces of rubber which were glued together but they often came apart during games. Beveled edges were introduced to the puck in 1931/32 but the design was discarded and the modern puck design that’s used today was created in 1940. The NHL then introduced an ‘official’ and standardised league puck in 1990/91.
In 1995/96 the league developed a puckwhich contained a tiny battery and computer board in it aswell as holes which could communicate infrared emitters withsensoring devices in the arena. This enabled television viewers totrack the movement of the puck more easily as it was surrounded by ablue halo and emitted a red or green trail on the televisionscreen when players shot the puck.
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These pucks could be used forapproximately 10 minutes before the lithium battery died and it’sestimated that each puck cost $400 to make. The NHL then stoppedusing them following the 1998/99 campaign as they were designedspecifically for Fox Television and the network didn’t renew itscontract with the league.
How regulation pucks are made
Regulation pucks are manufactured by mixing granular rubber by hand with a bonding material, antioxidants and coal dust. The mixture is placed in a two-part mold which is compressed at room temperature.
The rubber is shaped into circular logs which are three inches wide and then cut into one-inch pieces before the rubber hardens. Each piece of rubber is placed into a mold which is the exact size of a puck and then compressed. The logos are then silk-screened into the pucks with a rubber-based ink.
The pucks are all inspected to make sure they adhere to the proper size and weight regulations and to check for any soft rubber or air bubbles. Any pucks that fail the test are recycled for re-use. The pucks are further tested for bouncing by freezing them for approximately 10 days.