From the frozen lakes and rivers of Canadian winters to nationally televised games played at high-tech arenas before 20,000 fans, ice hockey has come a long way. Though the rules and equipment have changed through the sport's 128-year history, the spirit of the game remains the same. Hockey has always been a sport of speed and grace mixed with grit and a certain amount of violence. That combination has proven irresistible to fans for over a century. A crowd of 5,000 reportedly watched the first ever Stanley Cup competition in 1893. During the 2002-2003 season, attendance at national Hockey League games topped 20 million.

The history of hockey holds more than just changing rules and regulations. A host of colorful characters, bizarre traditions, and strange events mark hockey's timeline. Few sports can top an octopus on the ice, a team traveling by dog sled, or a championship trophy getting dropkicked into a canal.

In this article, we'll learn about the storied history of hockey and the rules that govern the modern game. We'll also take a look at the equipment used to protect players from a puck traveling at over 100 mph (161 kph).