Most sports across the globe use some form of a ball. But with hockey being played on ice, it uses a puck as it's designed to slide across the ice.
With the average NHL game going through a dozen pucks, it's easy to see why fans and players take these small black discs for granted. However, you may be surprised by just how much information is out there concerning the history and construction of the hockey puck.
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What are real hockey pucks made of?
A hockey puck is a solid, flat black disc made with vulcanized rubber. Pucks are made in several factories worldwide in Canada, Slovakia, Russia, the 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.
Are all hockey pucks the same?
A regulation-sized puck used by the NHL is three inches in diameter (75 millimetres), an inch (25 millimetres) thick and varies in weight between 5.5 and 6 ounces (154 to 170 grams). However, smaller and larger ice hockey pucks are also manufactured with differing weights. These are often used in children's hockey leagues.
The side of a puck comes with dozens of tiny and textured raised grooves embedded into it, giving a hockey stick something to grip onto when handling and shooting it.
Unofficial pucks and souvenir and practice models can often be found in colors other than black. Many pucks also have team or league logos silk-screened into their top or bottom.
Do fans get to keep pucks?
If a puck goes out of play and into the stands, fans get to keep the hockey puck. On average, the NHL goes through twelve pucks per game. So, fans can catch plenty of pucks if they attend a game live.
Just keep your head up and be alert when the puck leaves play. There have been significant injuries in this situation, so much so that the NHL installed netting above the glass on sports where the puck is more prone to leaving the ice surface.
A history of the hockey puck
In the late 1800s, ice hockey often used frozen cow dung, rubber balls, and wood blocks. The puck was first invented in 1875 when its rounded edges were cut off of a rubber ball to prevent it from bouncing. The word puck was first used to describe the object in 1876.
In the early 1900s, pucks were made from two pieces of rubber glued together but often came apart during games.
Bevelled edges were introduced to the puck in 1931/32. Still, the design was discarded, and today's modern puck design was created in 1940. The NHL introduced an 'official' and standardized league puck in 1990/91.
In 1995/96 the league developed a puck with a tiny battery, computer board, and holes that could communicate infrared emitters with sensing devices in the arena. This enabled television viewers to track the puck's movement more efficiently as it was surrounded by a blue halo and emitted a red or green trail on the television screen when players shot it.
These pucks could be used for approximately 10 minutes before the lithium battery died, and it's estimated that each puck cost $400 to make. The NHL stopped using them following the 1998/99 campaign as they were designed specifically for Fox Television, and the network didn't renew its contract with the league.
How are hockey pucks 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 mould which is compressed at room temperature.
The rubber is shaped into circular logs three inches wide and then cut into one-inch pieces before the rubber hardens. Each piece of rubber is placed into a mould, the exact size of a puck, and then compressed. The logos are then silk-screened into the pucks with rubber-based ink.
The pucks are all inspected to ensure they adhere to the proper size and weight regulations and to check for soft rubber or air bubbles. Any pucks that fail the test are recycled for reuse. The pucks are further tested for bouncing by freezing them for approximately ten days.
Who manufactures NHL pucks?
The NHL's official pucks are currently supplied by InGlasCo of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, which is recognized as the world's biggest pucks manufacturer. However, pucks are also made in several other nations. North American sporting-good companies such as InGlasCo, Sher-Wood, Viceroy, and Spalding are the most well-known puck manufacturers worldwide.
Some manufacturers also make blue four-ounce pucks for children and 10-ounce discs for players who want to develop their shots. In addition, two-pound steel pucks are made for strength training purposes only.
Why do they freeze hockey pucks?
In elite level leagues, they freeze the pucks before the players take to the ice. Because rubber bounces less when frozen, they reduce the puck's bounce and make it more stable as it moves at speed across the ice.
What happens to NHL warm-up pucks?
After a puck is used in the NHL, it is not used again. The NHL is a multi-billion dollar business. With pucks costing relatively little, they utilize brand-new pucks whenever possible.
Do NHL pucks have a chip?
The NHL started adding sensors in its pucks in 2019/20 to track and analyze their movement during games. The sensors combine with cameras and antennae, placed high above the ice surface to help track the puck and player's movement.
Team experts can then analyze the information to help in their neverending quest for perfection.
While the top pro leagues in the world may tinker with their hockey pucks in many ways, it's doubtful the standardized shape and weight will ever change when it comes to regulation pucks.