History of the NHL the First 100 Years by: Chris mathews

The NHL has changed a lot over the one hundred years since it was founded in 1917. It has gained 25 teams and countless fans. This article will walk you through the expansion of the NHL; from when it was founded as a small group of Canadian teams to the large global league it is today.

A Canadian Creation

Most people know about the NHL (the National Hockey League) but are not familiar with how it was created or how it has grown to the 31 teams it is comprised of today. The very first teams in the NHL were all from Canada: the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, and Toronto Arenas. Quebec City also had a team but did not play the first season. The next three teams to join the NHL were the Boston Bruins, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the New York/Brooklyn Americans. These teams began the growth of the league and brought NHL expansion to the United States. By 1926, there were ten NHL teams and six of them were from the United States.

Extreme Expansion - The First 53 Years

These are the "Original Six" NHL teams

Many teams have come, gone, and come back again throughout the long history of the NHL. If you are familiar with the NHL and its teams you might be wondering “the Pittsburgh Pirates? The Brooklyn Americans? These teams aren't the Original Six!” Well, you are sort of right. Many of the original teams failed due to the financial problems faced during the Great Depression and the player shortage caused by the Second World War. From 1942 to 1967, the NHL had only six teams: the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Black Hawks, the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. These teams came to be known as the “Original Six”. The NHL doubled in size by adding six new teams in 1967, the largest expansion in professional sports history. With the addition of the California Seals (later named the Oakland Seals and then the California Golden Seals), Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues, the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams. After this major expansion, the NHL added two more teams in 1970. The Buffalo Sabres and the Vancouver Canucks brought the NHL to a total of 14 teams. The NHL went from 6 teams to 14 teams in just under 30 years. The new teams included three from the West Coast (two from California and one from Vancouver) which show that the NHL was quickly becoming popular across the entire U.S. and Canada.

Further Expansion - The Next 47 Years

Over the next 47 years, from 1970 to 2017, the NHL continued its rapid expansion to the 31 team milestone it has reached today. In 1972 the NHL added two teams, the New York Islanders, who played in the Long Island town of Uniondale, and the Atlanta Flames, who moved to Calgary eight years later. In 1974 the pattern of adding two teams every two years continued when the NHL added the Washington Capitals and the Kansas City Scouts (now the New Jersey Devils). The NHL added four more teams in 1979, with the addition of the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and the Winnipeg Jets (now the Arizona Coyotes) bringing the NHL to a total of 21 teams. Twelve years later, the league began to expand again with the addition of the San Jose Sharks, bringing the NHL to 22 teams. One year later, the NHL added the Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the first NHL team to play in Florida. In 1993, the NHL added its 25th and 26th teams, the Florida Panthers (based in Miami) and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. One year later the Nashville Predators joined the NHL, bringing the number of teams to 27. In 1999, nineteen years after the departure of the Flames, the NHL came back to Atlanta with the addition of the Atlanta Thrashers (now the second iteration of the Winnipeg Jets), the league’s 28th team. With the addition of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, the League reached 30 teams. The Wild brought the NHL back to Minnesota seven years after the North Stars moved to Dallas. The NHL expanded from 14 to 30 teams in just under 50 years and is continuing to expand into new areas - adding two teams in Florida, two more in California, and one each in Arizona, North Carolina and Nashville.

This is a map of the NHL during the 2016-2017 season

Latest Expansion - 2018

With the NHL at 30 teams, the commissioner Gary Bettman announced the addition of a franchise in Las Vegas called the Golden Nights. This team will begin to play in the 2017-2018 season, bringing the NHL to 31 teams. The Golden Nights are the first major professional sports team in Las Vegas. There are no plans to add another team right now, but some people think Seattle could become the NHL’s 32nd team at some point.

This is a picture of the unveiling of the newest NHL team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Over the past 100 years, the NHL has expanded from being just five teams in four Canadian cities to being thirty one teams stretching across most of North America. Even though the teams are only in North America, the NHL is a global league, currently drawing in players from 16 countries around the world, including some of its biggest stars like Henrik Lundqvist from Sweden and Alex Ovechkin from Russia.

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