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History Of The NHL (National Hockey League)
The National Hockey League (NHL) was founded on November 26, 1917, in Montreal, Quebec. It currently consists of 31 professional ice hockey teams. Seven of them are based in Canada while the remaining 24 are located in the United States.
The NHL was the result of the suspension of operations of the National Hockey Association, which was formed in Renfrew, Ontario in 1909. The NHL instantly became one of the active hockey leagues at the time that would participate in an annual inter-league championship series for the Stanley Cup.
As the years passed, the other hockey leagues either merged with stronger ones or folded until 1926. That was when the NHL remained as the only league competing for the Stanley Cup.
When the NHL was formed, there were only four teams and all of them were based in Canada. That was the reason for the word “National” in the league name – to reflect that the league was national in flavor.
That changed in 1924 with expansion into the United States and the Boston Bruins joining the league. From 1942 to 1967 there were only six teams in the league, which has since been referred to as the “Original Six” era.
The Original Six teams were:
- Boston Bruins
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Detroit Red Wings
- Montreal Canadiens
- New York Rangers
- Toronto Maple Leafs
A major expansion in 1967 added six more teams, doubling the size of the league. They included:
- California Seals
- Los Angeles Kings
- Minnesota North Stars
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- St Louis Blues
By 1974 there were 18 teams playing in the NHL and 21 active by 1979. Smaller expansions took place between 1991 and 2000 which saw the NHL balloon to 30 teams. The most recent addition, the 31st team, was added in 2017. There are plans to add a 32nd team by 2021.
The NHL has divided the teams into two conferences: the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. There are an additional two divisions in each conference. The Eastern Conference has a total of 16 teams with eight per division. The Western Conference has 15 teams with seven in the Central Division and eight in the Pacific Division.
As for value, Forbes magazine reported in 2018 that the five most valuable teams in the NHL all happen to be from the Original Six. The breakdown was as follows:
- New York Rangers - $1.55-billion
- Toronto Maple Leafs - $1.45-billion
- Montreal Canadiens - $1.3-billion
- Chicago Blackhawks - $1.05-billion
- Boston Bruins - $925-million
There have been a total of six NHL teams that have folded. Another 13 relocated. There have also been a total of four labor disputes in the history of the NHL. Regardless, there is no doubt that the National Hockey League continues to be one of the most stable professional sports leagues in the world.
The Boston Bruins is the NHL’s third-oldest team having joined the league in 1924. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the team has won a total of six Stanley Cups.
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Based in Buffalo, New York, the Buffalo Sabres have been part of the NHL since 1970 as part of an expansion that saw the league grow to a total of 14 teams.
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As a member of the “Original Six”, the Red Wings joined the NHL in 1926. At the time they were known as the Cougars. In 1930 they became the Falcons. In 1932 the team was renamed the Red Wings. They have a total of 11 Stanley Cups.
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Based in Sunrise, Florida, the Panthers joined the NHL in 1993.
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Founded in 1909, the Montreal Canadiens are the longest continuously operating professional ice hockey team in the world. It is also the only existing NHL team to predate the founding of the league. The Habs joined the NHL in 1917 and have won 24 Stanley Cups.
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The original Ottawa Senators joined the NHL in 1917 and won 11 Stanley Cups until the team folded in 1934. The current Senators team joined the league in 1992 and has yet to win a Stanley Cup.
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Calling Tampa, Florida home, the Lightning joined the NHL in 1992. They have won two Stanley Cup (2003-04) and (2019-2020).
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The Toronto Maple Leafs, another of the "Original Six" NHL teams, joined the league originally in 1917 as the Arenas. They changed their name to the St. Patricks in 1919 and became the Maple Leafs in 1927. The team has a total of 13 Stanley Cups.
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Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Hurricanes first became part of the NHL in 1979 as the Hartford Whalers. The team relocated to Raleigh in 1997 to become the Hurricanes. They won the Stanley Cup in 2005-06.
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Based in Columbus, Ohio, the Blue Jackets joined the NHL in 2000.
The New Jersey Devils started life in the NHL in 1974 as the Kansas City Scouts. The team moved in 1976 to Denver to become the Colorado Rockies and finally in 1982 settled in Newark, New Jersey as the Devils. They have won three Stanley Cups.
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The New York Islanders are based in Uniondale, New York and joined the NHL in 1972. They have won a total of 4 Stanley Cups.
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Known as one of three NHL teams located in the metropolitan New York area, the Rangers are one of the “Original Six.” Joining the NHL in 1926, the Rangers have won a total of four Stanley Cups.
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The Philadelphia Flyers joined the NHL in the 1967 Expansion. The team went on to become the first expansion team in the post-Original Six era to win a Stanley Cup (1973-74) and repeated that feat the following season for their second Stanley Cup.
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Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Penguins entered the NHL as part of the 1967 Expansion. They have won a total of five Stanley Cups.
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The Washington Capitals entered the NHL in 1974. Based in Washington, DC, the team has one Stanley Cup win (2017-18).
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As one of the NHL’s “Original Six” the Chicago Blackhawks joined the league in 1926. They have won a total of six Stanley Cups.
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The Colorado Avalanche first entered the NHL in 1979 as the Quebec Nordiques. A relocation to Denver, Colorado in 1995 resulted in the team becoming the Avalanche. They have won two Stanley Cups.
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Originally known as the Minnesota North Stars, joining the NHL in 1967, a relocation in 1993 saw the team move the Dallas, Texas. The team has one Stanley Cup won in 1998-99.
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The Minnesota Wild joined the NHL in 2000 and is based in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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The Nashville Predators joined the NHL in 1998 and are based in Nashville, Tennessee.
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The St Louis Blues entered the NHL as part of the 1967 Expansion. Based in Missouri, the team has one Stanley Cup won in 2018-19.
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The original Winnipeg Jets were part of the NHL in 1979 until they relocated in 1995 to Arizona. The current team started out in the NHL as the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. The team moved to Winnipeg in 2011 and was renamed the Jets.
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The Anaheim Ducks entered the NHL in 1993 as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and is based in Anaheim, California. In 2006 the name was shortened to the current version, the same year they won the Stanley Cup.
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The Arizona Coyotes originally joined the NHL as the Winnipeg Jets in 1979. The team relocated to Phoenix, Arizona in 1996 and became the Phoenix Coyotes. The team name changed again in 2014 to the Arizona Coyotes.
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The Calgary Flames originally entered the NHL as the Atlanta Flames in 1972. The team relocated to Calgary, Alberta in 1980 and won their only Stanley Cup in 1988-89.
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The Edmonton Oilers have been part of the NHL since 1979. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, the team has won a total of 5 Stanley Cups.
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The Los Angeles Kings have been part of the NHL since the 1967 expansion. The team has won two Stanley Cups.
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The San Jose Sharks joined the NHL in 1991 and became the first team to be located in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1976. That was when the then-California Golden Seals relocated to Cleveland.
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Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Canucks were first founded in 1945. The team entered the NHL as an expansion team in 1970.
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The NHL’s newest team calls Paradise, Nevada home. The Vegas Golden Knights joined the league in 2017.
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