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A Cup's Adventures And Oddities On Ice: 140 Years Of Hockey Trivia

An ice hockey match between the U.S.A. and Canada in February 1936, during the Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
An ice hockey match between the U.S.A. and Canada in February 1936, during the Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are well underway. Fans of the Winnipeg Jets are heartbroken; Chicago Blackhawk lovers are feeling great.

But you don't need to be an NHL superfan to find something fascinating about hockey. A.J. Jacobs, an editor-at-large for Esquireand a professional know-it-all, joined NPR's Scott Simon to talk about quirky facts from the sport's past and present.

How much hockey trivia do you know? Take a guess at which of the facts below are true, then hit "play" to see if you were right.


What important element of hockey was establishe d at the very first official indoor hockey game?

Did the very first game enter sudden-death overtime? Did the players immediately decide to grow a bushy playoff beard? Or did the game descend into a brawl?

What food items were repurposed as early hockey pucks?

One of the earliest hockey pucks was frankly unpleasant: cow dung. Cut-up lacrosse balls and wooden pucks were also common. But so was at least one edible item.

What foodstuff was used on the ice: hardtack biscuits, potatoes or pork chops?

What foul things did audiences famously throw onto the ice?

Rats, hats, pizza, hamburgers, teddy bears, shoes ... fans are famous for throwing all of those onto the ice. But the most famous projectile is not for the squeamish.

What, as NPR's Scott Simon notes, did one group of fans regularly toss on the ice: dog feces, dead octopuses, live cockroaches or rotten eggs?

What has the Stanley Cup been up to?

The Cup itself, which is awarded to the NHL's top team, has been around the block a few times.

In fact, it's better to ask what the 122-year-old Stanley Cup hasn't been up to. Take a guess as to which of these experiences the Stanley Cup has not (yet) had:

  • Swimming underwater
  • Hosting a baptism
  • Being wielded as a weapon
  • Feeding a dog
  • Visiting a strip club
  • Serving as a toilet
  • And finally, what happened in some of hockey's most epic bouts on the ice?

    There are no bonus points for knowing that hockey games often end in brawls. But which of the following actually happened: a player trying to start a fire, a fan being beaten with his own shoe, or a player's hairpiece being ripped off midfight?

    Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.