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Modern hockey pucks are made of rubber that is vulcanized—a process that heats and hardens rubber into the small disks you'll be using to dangle the defense and go top shelf against an out-of-position goalie. While you know your league statistics by heart, an official hockey puck's stats are pretty amazing, too, for their consistency. A hockey puck produced for a game measures 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) thick and 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) in diameter. The dimensions of a puck are standard, but how much a hockey puck weighs can vary slightly. An official hockey puck weighs in from 5.5 to 6 ounces, or 154 to 168 grams.
Nobody knows for sure how the hockey puck got its name, but a couple of theories have risen to the top. One is that the puck was named for the character "Puck" in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream. Another holds that the word's etymology gave the puck its name: some people believe the word comes from the sport of hurling and could derive from the Scottish Gaelic puc or the Irish poc, meaning to poke, punch, or deliver a blow.
Hockey pucks are made using one of two methods depending on whether the puck is intended for practice or as a souvenir, or for official NHL play. Practice pucks are made from 40-foot-long rubber tubes that are pulled and sliced into four-inch pieces, which are then dropped into a two-piece heated mold and compressed together. This process can create 10,000 pucks in a day. Regulation game pucks are made by mixing a granular rubber with a bonding material, which is then placed in a room-temperature mold and compressed. About 5,000 game-quality pucks can be made in a week. Game pucks are also frozen and tested for bounce, and to achieve consistent performance properties from batch to batch. NHL pucks are made in St. Jerome, Quebec, but InGlasCo—the league's official supplier—applies the NHL logos in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
The official hockey puck used in games meets strict standards for size and weight. But other pucks are made lighter or in different materials for other uses. Youth pucks, for example, may be lighter. A 4-ounce (110 gram) puck, which is colored blue, is produced for younger players whose smaller stature and strength make using a regulation puck more difficult. Heavier pucks are also used in training situations. A 10-ounce (280 grams) puck, generally pink or reddish-orange, helps players develop strength by taking repetitive shots with a heavier weight hockey puck. A 2-pound (910 grams) puck made of steel can be used to develop wrist strength, but should not be used for shooting. Goaltenders sometimes use white rubber pucks for practice, training the goalie to concentrate hard on seeing the puck and reacting quicker.
Street hockey and inline hockey players generally use pucks made of lighter weight plastic. Street hockey pucks are kept light to help them slide over rough streets and other surfaces, while inline hockey pucks have glide pegs that protrude on each surface to help them glide on concrete and sport court surfaces. The lighter weight street hockey puck's special design elements also keep it from fluttering or bouncing too much. A foam hockey puck might help you stay out of trouble with your spouse or parents. Foam hockey pucks are available for people who like to play indoors but don't want hard rubber or plastic pucks hitting the walls or furniture.
When Fox Sports won the contract to televise National Hockey League games in the mid-1990s, the network debuted FoxTrax, a system by which electronics were inserted into NHL pucks to help make them visible to television viewers. The FoxTrax puck contained 20 infrared emitters producing 30 pulses per minute powered by an internal battery. The infrared signal was picked up by 16 sensors around the rink, locating the puck for television viewers. When the puck was passed or shot and exceeded 50 mph (80 kph), a red tail would appear showing the hockey puck's path. If the speed of the puck exceeded 75 mph (120 kph), the tail would show green. The FoxTrax puck was popular with some television hockey fans, but veteran hockey fans hated it and the outcry was loud. The FoxTrax hockey puck lasted for about three years until Fox lost its broadcast rights.
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