Until the mid-1980s it was generally accepted that ice hockey derived from English field hockey and Indian lacrosse and was spread throughout Canada by British soldiers in the mid-1800s. Research then turned up mention of a hockeylike game, played in the early 1800s in Nova Scotia by the Mi’kmaq Indians. At any rate, it is quite likely that ice hockey came into being from different early games played with a stick and a ball. While the game's origins lie elsewhere, Montreal is at the centre of the development and is recognized as the birthplace of organized ice hockey. In 1875, the first organized indoor game was played at Montreal's Victoria Skating Rink between two nine-player teams, instead of a ball,the game featured a flat circular piece of wood.
In 1877, the rules of modern ice hockey were devised by James Creighton published by The Gazette, and the McGill University Hockey Club, the first ice hockey club, was founded in the same year. The number of teams grew, enough to hold the first "world championship" of ice hockey at Montreal's annual Winter Carnival in 1883. In 1886, the teams competing at the Winter Carnival organized the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC). In 1896, the first ice hockey league in the US was formed. Lord Stanley's five sons were instrumental in bringing ice hockey to Europe, defeating a court team at Buckingham Palace, London in 1895.
Professional hockey has existed since the early 20th century. By 1902, the Western Pennsylvania Hockey League was the first to employ professionals. By then, several professional hockey leagues were operating in Canada. The National Hockey League came into existence in 1917, and the owners originally intended the NHL to only operate for one season. In Europe, league competition among amateurs began in 1903, in England. The Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (now International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)) was founded in 1908 by Great Britain, Bohemia, Switzerland, France, and Belgium. The first European Championship was held at Avants, Switzerland, in 1910.
In 1920 Ice hockey was played at the Summer Olympics, and in 1924 gained a place in the Winter Olympics. The IIHF considers the ice hockey tournament held at the 1920 Summer Olympics to be the first Ice Hockey World Championship. Subsequently, every Olympic tournament up to and including the 1968 Winter Olympics is counted as the World Championship. The first World Championship that was held as an individual event was in 1930. The first Women's World Hockey Championship was held in 1990. Recognizing the growing popularity of the sport, the IOC added women’s ice hockey to its 1998 schedule at Nagano. In 1995 professional players from NHL were allowed to compete at the Olympics and World Cup championships.