Monday, December 27, 2010

Games on Christmas Day

In today's NHL, there is a mandatory Christmas break as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The last scheduled game, prior to Boxing Day,  was played on December 23rd between Phoenix and San Jose.

This was not the case during the Original Six era. Between 1942 and 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs participated in 19 games slated for Christmas Day.

During Christmas 1961, the Leafs played in Chicago on Christmas Night. Most of the club celebrated the holiday on Christmas Eve. The reality of having to lace-up the skates on Christmas Day was explained by Tim Horton.

"Christmas must be a good date for hockey in the U.S. and the fans, who pay the tariff, call the turn. I hope they have a full house for our game with the Black Hawks in Chicago Christmas Night", said Horton.

December 1962

Coaches of the six NHL teams preferred to have their club playing on the road at Christmas. The general consensus was the visiting team wouldn't suffer from any holiday distractions. Their regular game day routine would not be disrupted. Maple Leaf netminder Johnny Bower, offered another take concerning this aspect.

"It would be nice to be able to spend the day with the family and I don't think it would interfere with my thoughts about hockey", stated Bower.

With the formation of the NHLPA in 1967, the Association fought for more family time around the holiday season.

An Original Six tradition of games on Christmas Day slowly disappeared off the hockey calendar.

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