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McGill Rules

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McGill (or Montreal) Rules are considered to be the first written rules of ice hockey. The rules were published February 27, 1877 in the Monteal newspaper "The Gazette". The Halifax Rules were used first but they were never published. The rules were based upon the rules of field hockey. James Creighton is given credit as to being the one to introduce Halifax Rules in Montreal, he was also the one who had the rules published.

Montreal (McGill) Rules TranscriptionEdit

  • The game shall be commenced and renewed by a Bully in the centre of the ground. Goals shall be changed after each game.
  • When a player hits the ball, any one of the same side who at such moment of hitting is nearer to the opponents’ goal line is out of play, and may not touch the ball himself, or in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so, until the ball has been played. A player must always be on his own side of the ball.
  • The ball may be stopped, but not carried or knocked on by any part of the body. No player shall raise his stick above his shoulder. Charging from behind, tripping, collaring, kicking or shinning shall not be allowed.
  • When the ball is hit behind the goal line by the attacking side, it shall be brought out straight 15 yards, and started again by a Bully; but, if hit behind by any one of the side whose goal line it is, a player of the opposite side shall hit it out from within one yard of the nearest corner, no player of the attacking side at that time shall be within 20 yards of the goal line, and the defenders, with the exception of the goal-keeper, must be behind their goal line.
  • When the ball goes off at the side, a player of the opposite side to that which hit it out shall roll it out from the point on the boundary line at which it went off at right angles with the boundary line, and it shall not be in play until it has touched the ice, and the player rolling it in shall not play it until it has been played by another player, every player being then behind the ball.
  • On the infringement of any of the above rules, the ball shall be brought back and a Bully shall take place.
  • All disputes shall be settled by the Umpires, or in the event of their disagreement, by the Referee.

The above was Taken from “Now you know hockey” by Dough Lenox (p. 14-15) via website

Interesting difference between the Halifax rules and Montreal rules is that Halifax rules allowed forward passing and Montreal (McGill) rules did not.


hockey history page on McGill Rules

CBC feature on the debate on the birthplace of ice hockey

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