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History ‘n’ Hockey: The birth of the nation

On this day in Canadian history, the Balfour Declaration was signed at the Imperial Conference of 1926.
King George V (front row centre) and the Prime Ministers at the 1926 Imperial Conference. Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, is seated on the far right in the first row.
On this day in Canadian history, the Balfour Declaration was signed at the Imperial Conference of 1926. The signing of this agreement was a significant moment in history because it put Canada and the other dominions on the same playing field as the British Empire.

Moving forward, all members were to be recognized as “autonomous communities … equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another in any respect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown” in an association that would be known as the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Arizona Coyotes at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: ARI 9-8-1 (4th in the Pacific); MTL 14-3-2 (1st in the Atlantic)
Leading Scorers: Martin Hanzal (3G, 14A); Max Pacioretty (9G, 8A)

History is certainly on the Canadiens’ side as the Coyotes come to town. In their last five meetings at the Bell Centre, Phoenix Arizona has gone 1-3-1 and were outscored 18 to 8. Despite some optimism earlier in the week, Carey Price will not return to action tonight. However, that isn’t necessarily bad news, Montreal is still high atop the Atlantic and Mike Condon has been superb in Price’s absence. In eight straight starts, Condon has only been defeated once in regulation and boasts a .918 SV% on the season. Even without the reigning Vezina winner back in the crease this evening, the Canadiens should have no trouble sending the Coyotes back to the desert with their tails between their legs.

Prediction: Montreal by 1

Columbus Blue Jackets at Ottawa Senators, 7:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: CBJ 7-12-0 (8th in the Metropolitan); OTT 8-5-5 (2nd in the Atlantic)

Leading Scorers: Scott Hartnell (8G, 6A); Erik Karlsson (3G, 15A)

This will be an interesting game tonight. Columbus started off the season 0-7 with a terrible -21 goal differential. Since dismissing head coach Todd Richards and replacing him with the acerbic John Tortorella, the club has gone 7-5-0 and reduced their goal differential to -15.

Nevertheless, the Blue Jacket’s possession numbers under Tortorella suggest that the team is not quite out of the woods, but I’m betting the Columbus brass is pleased with the transition. Meanwhile, Ottawa continues to win games despite exhibiting some glaring red flags. While they are ranked seventh in Goals For, they are 26th in Goals Against. This problematic disparity is also evident if you look at the club’s possession numbers.

According to War on Ice (, at even-strength five-versus-five, the Senators are tied for the second worst Corsi For % in the league. This statistic denotes the number of on-ice shot attempts taken by a team, the lower the per cent, the less often the team has the puck. Ottawa’s puck luck will inevitably dry up and when it does, they will be in for a bit of a tumble as their current playing structure will not lend itself to consistently winning games.

Prediction: Columbus by 1

Last Minute of Play:

With the inking of the Balfour Declaration, Canada gained greater autonomy as it was now viewed on equal terms with Great Britain. Following the Imperial Conference of 1926, our country continued to exercise this newfound equality by establishing its own embassies overseas.

Much of what was formally recognized in the Balfour Declaration had already been Canada’s preferred course of direction throughout the 1920s. With Prime Minister Mackenzie King at the helm during this decade, Canada increasingly sought greater sovereignty within the British Empire.

Other examples of this include the handling of the Chanak Crisis in 1922 and the insistence that Canada sign the 1923 Halibut Treaty with the United States as the sole signatory. The recognition of the Balfour Declaration, therefore, was part of this broader trend that was eventually capped off with the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which gave Canada full legal autonomy in all matters outside of the handling of the constitution.

Two Minutes for Delay of Game
There have only been two players with the surname Balfour to play in the National Hockey League. Murray Balfour, from Regina, played eight seasons with the Canadiens, the Black Hawks (stylized as two words until 1986), and the Bruins in the Original Six era.
He scored 157 points in 306 career games, but his career and life were tragically cut short when he succumbed to an inoperable lung tumor at the age of 28. The other Balfour was Earl, no relation, he played for the Black Hawks as well and also had a stint with the Maple Leafs. Interestingly, the Balfours overlapped during their times in Chicago and both were part of the 1961 Stanley Cup winning team.

History ‘n’ Hockey returns on Dec. 3. Four Canadian teams are in action that night as we look back on the arrival of Canada’s two-millionth immigrant since 1945.

Mike Commito is a Canadian historian and avid hockey fan. Follow him on twitter @mikecommito.


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