I attended the NASSH annual conference last year in Halifax, and was sufficiently inspired by some of the presentations and discussion to write a blog post upon my return. Later this week the 2014 edition of the conference takes place in Colorado Springs, but I will unfortunately not be in attendance. However, the program is available online and there are a handful of hockey presentations amongst the many interesting pieces of research being presented. After the jump, you can read the titles of the presentations (unfortunately abstracts are not posted) and my brief commentary on each topic.
“From Game to Sport: the Case-study of Hockey’s Origins”
Michel Vigneault, UQAM / McGill University
Coincidentally, Dr. Vigneault will be speaking on the very topic I critiqued in my post on last year’s NASSH conference. While I am skeptical of the focus and tone of much of the debate around hockey’s origins, the title of this post intrigues me as it suggests that hockey will serve as an entry point to a larger discussion of the movement of physical activities from “games” to “sport” – a very culturally- and historically-contingent process, and one that is of great interest to scholars of sport. This topic is also of particular current interest due to the recent claims made about hockey’s origins lying in England, rather than Canada.
“‘Home Brews’ and ‘Imported Material’: Community Representation, Professional Hockey, and the 1907 Kenora Thistles”
Stacy L. Lorenz, University of Alberta (Augustana Campus)
We take it for granted in today’s sporting climate that the athletes we cheer as representatives of “our” cities come from all around the world (and, for that matter, fans may themselves be scattered around the globe and root for sport teams for manifold reason that have nothing to do with local affiliation). It is interesting, however, to consider this phenomenon occurring over a century ago – but that is exactly what Dr. Lorenz appears to doing in this paper. Using the 1907 Kenora Thistles as a case study, this paper promises to explore tensions around hockey teams as representatives of local community when they feature imported players from outside that community – a tension that was doubtless much greater in this pre-WWI era of rapid population growth and local boosterism through hockey in the Canadian Prairies.
“‘High Hopes’ and ‘Near Misses’: The Long Road to Copps Coliseum and Hamilton’s Pursuit of a National Hockey League Franchise (1925-1990)”
Jeff McMahon, Western University
In another paper that explores a topic that is resonant in the contemporary era, yet has deep historical roots, Jeff McMahon examines Hamilton, ON’s unsuccessful pursuit of an NHL hockey franchise from 1925 through 1990. While this topic recently gained widespread attention thanks to Jim Balsillie’s unsuccessful attempt to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, it has been an ongoing topic of discussion since the Hamilton Tigers left for New York in 1925. This paper looks to provide an interesting insight into this nearly century-long pursuit of NHL hockey in Canada’s Steeltown.
“The Making and The Glory of the Broad Street Bullies, 1967-197”
John Wong, Washington State University
The Philadelphia Flyers teams of the 1970s, know as the Broad Street Bullies for their ferociousness and use of violence as a tactic, are among the NHL’s most infamous cast of characters in league history. While the title does not make it clear what angle of approach he will take to the Bullies and their continuing cultural resonance, Dr. Wong’s paper looks at a fascinating era in the NHL’s history – one that did much to normalize fighting and violence in NHL hockey – and promises to offer a fascinating insight into the rise of the notorious Broad Street Bullies.