5 Surprising and Wacky Facts About the NHL

phil kessel hot dog stanley cup

You have all read collections of facts and trivia about whatever sports league you are following, including the NHL. You have probably seen numerous lists of 5 cool NHL facts covering everything from the sport's history, records, fights, referees, and scandals. Today, we're going to compile another list of NHL facts that are different from whatever you have read before - this is why we call them "surprising". So, without further ado, here we go.

NHL is among the least bet-on sports in the US

There are four "major" American sports: NHL, NFL, MLB, and NBA. Out of these, football is the most bet-on in the regulated sports betting venues in Nevada, followed by basketball, and baseball - each of them with amounts that are close to or exceed $1 billion a year. According to Nevada bookmakers, though, ice hockey only fits into the "other sports" category, overtaken even by horse racing when it comes to bets.

Cow dung

While there's no proof of this fact aside from anecdotal evidence, rumor has it that back in the earliest days of ice hockey, the puck was not made of vulcanized rubber as it is today. In the spirit of "use what you can", it is said that among the first pucks there were many that consisted of cow dung. Frozen solid, of course. This might explain the saying "we played sh*tty today", used so many times by the rink.

From there, we've evolved to sliced-up lacrosse balls and, ultimately, the pucks we use today.

Slapshot Pete and his likes

Mascots are usually humans dressed up in a costume. Not in the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins, though, who once had a real, living Ecuadorian Penguin serving as their mascot. Pete, on loan from the Pittsburgh Aquazoo, made his debut in front of close to 10,000 fans on February 21, 1968, as a birthday present to Doug McGregor, son of Penguins president Jack McGregor. Pete appeared several times on the rink during the same year before falling ill and passing away in November 1968, got stuffed, and was displayed briefly in the lobby of the Penguins team offices. Another Pete - Re-Pete, as the team called it - served as a mascot for the team in the 1971-72 season.

Eating from the Cup

Each member of a Stanley Cup winning team gets a personal day with the trophy - and most likely fills it with food and eats from it. Among the foodstuffs eaten from the Stanley Cup, you'll find everything from cereal to poutine, ice cream, and meatballs.

Perhaps the most surprising thing eaten out of it is dog food - Clark Gillies is said to have filled it with doggy treats to feed his dog out of it.


The NHL's first outdoor game in Las Vegas, Nevada was held in 1991. All went well until the third period when a cloud of grasshoppers invaded the rink. And, since bugs are not as slippery as ice, players had to be extra careful not to skate on them.

"All those arenas never had ice. We were used to bad ice. By the time we got to Vegas, we were, like, 'This is great.' ... Because it was so white on the ice, the bugs would literally go on the ice and two jumps and they would freeze," Luc Robitaille recalled the event later.

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