National Hockey League
Overview
 
The National Hockey League (NHL; ) is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey
Ice hockey
Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

 league
Sports league
League is a term commonly used to describe a group of sports teams or individual athletes that compete against each other in a specific sport. At its simplest, it may be a local group of amateur athletes who form teams among themselves and compete on weekends; at its most complex, it can be an...

 of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and 23 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Headquartered in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, the NHL is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada
Major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada
The major professional sports leagues, or simply major leagues, in the United States and Canada are the highest professional competitions in team sports...

. The Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup is an ice hockey club trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoffs champion after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals. It has been referred to as The Cup, Lord Stanley's Cup, The Holy Grail, or facetiously as Lord Stanley's Mug...

, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season
Season (sports)
In an organized sports league, a season is the portion of one year in which regulated games of the sport are in session. For example, in Major League Baseball, one season lasts approximately from April 1 through October 1; in Association football, it is generally from August until May In an...

.

The league was organized on November 26, 1917, in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Canada, during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association
National Hockey Association
The National Hockey Association was a professional ice hockey organization with teams in Ontario and Quebec, Canada. It is the direct predecessor organization to today's National Hockey League...

 (NHA), which had been founded in 1909.
Encyclopedia
The National Hockey League (NHL; ) is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey
Ice hockey
Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

 league
Sports league
League is a term commonly used to describe a group of sports teams or individual athletes that compete against each other in a specific sport. At its simplest, it may be a local group of amateur athletes who form teams among themselves and compete on weekends; at its most complex, it can be an...

 of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and 23 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Headquartered in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, the NHL is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada
Major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada
The major professional sports leagues, or simply major leagues, in the United States and Canada are the highest professional competitions in team sports...

. The Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup is an ice hockey club trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoffs champion after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals. It has been referred to as The Cup, Lord Stanley's Cup, The Holy Grail, or facetiously as Lord Stanley's Mug...

, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season
Season (sports)
In an organized sports league, a season is the portion of one year in which regulated games of the sport are in session. For example, in Major League Baseball, one season lasts approximately from April 1 through October 1; in Association football, it is generally from August until May In an...

.

The league was organized on November 26, 1917, in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Canada, during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association
National Hockey Association
The National Hockey Association was a professional ice hockey organization with teams in Ontario and Quebec, Canada. It is the direct predecessor organization to today's National Hockey League...

 (NHA), which had been founded in 1909. It started with four teams and, through a series of expansions, contractions, and relocations, the league is now composed of 30 active franchises. After a labour dispute that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004–05 season, the league resumed play under a new collective bargaining agreement that included a salary cap
Salary cap
In professional sports, a salary cap is a cartel agreement between teams that places a limit on the amount of money that can be spent on player salaries. The limit exists as a per-player limit or a total limit for the team's roster, or both...

. In 2009
2008–09 NHL season
The 2008–09 NHL season was the 92nd season of operation of the National Hockey League . It was the first season since prior to the 2004–05 lockout in which every team played each other at least once during the season, following three seasons where teams only played against two divisions in the...

, the NHL enjoyed record highs in terms of sponsorships, crowds and television audiences.

The NHL draws many highly skilled players from all over the world and currently has players from about 20 different countries. Although Canadians have historically constituted the majority of the players in the NHL, over the past four plus decades the percentages of American and European trained players have increased both because of the NHL's continued expansion from six to thirty clubs since 1967, and the increased availability of highly skilled European players, especially from former Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 countries.

Early years

A series of disputes in the National Hockey Association
National Hockey Association
The National Hockey Association was a professional ice hockey organization with teams in Ontario and Quebec, Canada. It is the direct predecessor organization to today's National Hockey League...

 (NHA) with Toronto Blueshirts
Toronto Blueshirts
The Toronto Hockey Club, known as the Torontos and the Toronto Blue Shirts were a professional National Hockey Association team that played in Toronto, Ontario, Canada...

 owner Eddie Livingstone led the other owners, representing the Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is officially known as ...

, Montreal Wanderers
Montreal Wanderers
The Montreal Wanderers were a Canadian amateur, and later becoming a professional men's ice hockey team. The team played in the Federal Amateur Hockey League , the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association , the National Hockey Association and briefly the National Hockey League . The Wanderers are...

, Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators (original)
The Ottawa Senators were an amateur, and later, professional, ice hockey team based in Ottawa, Canada which existed from 1883 to 1954. The club was the first hockey club in Ontario, a founding member of the National Hockey League and played in the NHL from 1917 until 1934...

, and Quebec Bulldogs
Quebec Bulldogs
The Quebec Bulldogs were a men's senior-level ice hockey team officially known as the Quebec Hockey Club, later as the Quebec Athletic Club. Their recorded play goes back as far as the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada in 1889, although the Quebec Hockey Club is known to have played since 1880...

 to meet at the Windsor Hotel
Windsor Hotel (Montreal)
The Windsor Hotel in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is often considered to be the first grand hotel in Canada, and for decades billed itself as "the best in all the Dominion".-Early years:...

 in Montreal to talk about the NHA's future. Realizing the league constitution left them unable to force Livingstone out, the four teams voted instead to suspend the NHA, and on November 26, 1917, formed the National Hockey League. While a full member of the new league, the Bulldogs were unable to play, and the remaining owners created a new team
Toronto Arenas
The Toronto Arenas, Toronto Blueshirts or Torontos was a professional men's ice hockey team that played in the first two seasons of the National Hockey League . It was operated by the owner of the Arena Gardens, the Toronto Arena Company...

 in Toronto to compete with the Canadiens, Wanderers and Senators. The first games were played three weeks later on December 19. Joe Malone scored five goals in a 7–4 victory for the Canadiens over the Senators on opening night; he finished the 1917–18 season with 44 goals in 20 games. The league nearly collapsed in January 1918 when the Montreal Arena
Montreal Arena
The Montreal Arena, also known as Westmount Arena, was an indoor arena located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on the corner of St. Catherine Street and Wood Avenue. It was likely one of the first arenas designed expressly for hockey, opening in 1898...

 burned down, causing the Wanderers to cease operations and forcing the Canadiens to hastily find a new arena. The NHL continued on as a three-team league until Quebec returned in 1919.

Toronto won the first league title, then defeated the Pacific Coast Hockey Association
Pacific Coast Hockey Association
The Pacific Coast Hockey Association was a professional men's ice hockey league in western Canada and the western United States, which operated from 1911 to 1924 when it then merged with the Western Canada Hockey League...

's Vancouver Millionaires
Vancouver Millionaires
The Vancouver Millionaires were a professional ice hockey team that competed in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the Western Canada Hockey League between 1911 and 1926...

 to win the 1918 Stanley Cup
1918 Stanley Cup Finals
-See also:* 1917–18 NHL season* 1917–18 PCHA season* List of Stanley Cup champions...

 The Canadiens won the league title in 1919, however their Stanley Cup Final against the Seattle Metropolitans
Seattle Metropolitans
The Seattle Metropolitans were a professional ice hockey team based in Seattle, Washington which played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1915 to 1924. They won the Stanley Cup in 1917, becoming the first American team to do so...

 was abandoned with the series tied after several players became ill as a result of the Spanish Flu
Spanish flu
The 1918 flu pandemic was an influenza pandemic, and the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus . It was an unusually severe and deadly pandemic that spread across the world. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin...

 epidemic that resulted in Montreal defenceman Joe Hall
Joe Hall
Joseph Henry Hall , nicknamed Bad Joe Hall, was a professional ice hockey defenceman who played professionally from 1904 until 1919 when he died as a result of the influenza epidemic...

's death. Montreal defeated the Calgary Tigers
Calgary Tigers
The Calgary Tigers, often nicknamed the Bengals, were an ice hockey team based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada from 1920 until 1927 as members of the Big Four League, Western Canada Hockey League and Prairie Hockey League. The Tigers were revived in 1932, playing for a short-lived four years in the...

 of the Western Canada Hockey League
Western Canada Hockey League
The Western Canada Hockey League , founded in 1921, was a major professional ice hockey league originally based in the prairies of Canada. It was renamed the Western Hockey League in 1925 and disbanded in 1926.-History:...

 (WCHL) in 1924 to win their first Stanley Cup in the NHL. The Hamilton Tigers, who had relocated from Quebec in 1920, won the regular season title in 1924–25 but refused to play in the championship series unless they were given a C$
Canadian dollar
The Canadian dollar is the currency of Canada. As of 2007, the Canadian dollar is the 7th most traded currency in the world. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or C$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies...

200 bonus. The league refused and declared the Canadiens the league champion after they defeated the Toronto St. Patricks
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a professional ice hockey team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

 in the semi-final. Montreal was then defeated by the Victoria Cougars
Victoria Cougars
The Victoria Cougars were a major league professional ice hockey team that played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1922 to 1924, and in the Western Hockey League from 1924 to 1926...

 for the 1925 Stanley Cup. It was the last time a non-NHL team won the trophy, as the Stanley Cup became the de facto NHL championship in 1926 after the WCHL ceased operations.

The league embarked on rapid expansion in the 1920s, adding the Montreal Maroons
Montreal Maroons
The Montreal Maroons was a professional men's ice hockey team in the National Hockey League . They played in the NHL from 1924 to 1938, winning the Stanley Cup in 1926 and 1935...

 and Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins are a professional ice hockey team based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The team has been in existence since 1924, and is the league's third-oldest team and its oldest in the...

 in 1924. The Bruins were the first American team in the NHL, while the Maroons played in the newly completed Montreal Forum
Montreal Forum
The Montreal Forum was an indoor arena located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Called "the most storied building in hockey history" by Sporting News, it was home of the National Hockey League's Montreal Maroons from 1924 to 1938 and the Montreal Canadiens from 1926 to 1996...

 that the Canadiens made famous in later decades. The New York Americans
New York Americans
The New York Americans were a professional ice hockey team based in New York, New York from 1925 to 1942. They were the third expansion team in the history of the National Hockey League and the second to play in the United States. The team never won the Stanley Cup, but reached the semifinals...

 began play in 1925 after purchasing the assets of the Hamilton Tigers, and were joined by the Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates (NHL)
The Pittsburgh Pirates were an American professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League , based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1925–26 to 1929–30. The nickname comes from the baseball team also based in the city...

. Tex Rickard
George Lewis Rickard
George Lewis "Tex" Rickard was an American boxing promoter, founder of the New York Rangers National Hockey League franchise, and builder of the third incarnation of Madison Square Garden in New York City. During the 1920s, Tex Rickard was the leading promoter of the day, and he has been compared...

, owner of Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden (1925)
Madison Square Garden was an indoor arena in New York City, the third of that name. It was built in 1925 and closed in 1968, and was located on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets in Manhattan on the site of the city's trolley car barns. It was the first Garden that was not located near...

, was so impressed with the popularity of the Americans that he added the New York Rangers
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are a professional ice hockey team based in the borough of Manhattan in New York, New York, USA. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . Playing their home games at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers are one of the...

 in 1926. The Chicago Black Hawks
Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks are a professional ice hockey team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . They have won four Stanley Cup championships since their founding in 1926, most recently coming in 2009-10...

 and Detroit Cougars
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are a professional ice hockey team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League , and are one of the Original Six teams of the NHL, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, New York...

 (later Red Wings) were also added after the league purchased the assets of the defunct WCHL. Conn Smythe
Conn Smythe
Constantine Falkland Cary Smythe MC was a Canadian businessman, soldier and sportsman in ice hockey and horse racing. He is best known as the principal owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League from 1927 to 1961 and as the builder of Maple Leaf Gardens...

 purchased the Toronto St. Patricks in 1927, immediately renamed them the Maple Leafs, and built Maple Leaf Gardens
Maple Leaf Gardens
Maple Leaf Gardens is an indoor arena that was converted into a Loblawssupermarket and Ryerson University athletic centre in Toronto, on the northwest corner of Carlton Street and Church Street in Toronto's Garden District.One of the temples of hockey, it was home to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the...

 in 1931.

The Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 and the onset of World War II took a toll on the league. The Pirates became the Philadelphia Quakers
Philadelphia Quakers (NHL)
The Philadelphia Quakers were an American professional ice hockey team that played only one full season in the National Hockey League , 1930–31, at the Philadelphia Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

 in 1930, then folded one year later. The Senators likewise became the St. Louis Eagles
St. Louis Eagles
The St. Louis Eagles were a professional ice hockey team and a former member of the National Hockey League based in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles existed for only one year, playing in the 1934–35 NHL season....

 in 1934, also lasting only one year. The Canadiens were nearly sold and relocated to Cleveland, Ohio in 1936 before a trio of local owners purchased the team and kept them in Montreal. The Maroons did not survive, however, as they suspended operations in 1938. The Americans were suspended in 1942 due to a lack of players, but never revived. The league was reduced to six teams for the 1942–43 NHL season
1942–43 NHL season
-NHL awards:-All-Star teams:-Scoring leaders:Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes-Leading goaltenders:...

: the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. These six teams remained constant for 25 years, a period known as the Original Six
Original Six
The Original Six is a term for the group of six teams that composed the National Hockey League for the 25 seasons between the 1942–43 season and the 1967 NHL Expansion. These six teams are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and the...

.

The first NHL All-Star Game was held in 1934 to benefit Ace Bailey
Ace Bailey
Irvine Wallace "Ace" Bailey was an ice hockey player who competed for the Toronto Maple Leafs during eight seasons, from 1926–1933.-Playing career:...

, whose career ended on a vicious hit by Eddie Shore
Eddie Shore
Edward William Shore was a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman, principally for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League, and the longtime owner of the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League, iconic for his toughness and defensive skill.Shore won the Hart Trophy as the...

. The second was held in 1937 in support of Howie Morenz
Howie Morenz
Howard William Morenz was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. He played centre for three National Hockey League teams: the Montreal Canadiens , the Chicago Black Hawks, and the New York Rangers...

's family when he died of a coronary embolism after breaking his leg during a game. His teammate Aurel Joliat
Aurel Joliat
Aurèle Émile "Mighty Atom, Little Giant" Joliat was a Canadian professional ice hockey left winger who played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Montreal Canadiens....

 said that Morenz "died of a broken heart" when he learned he would never play hockey again. Maurice "Rocket" Richard
Maurice Richard
Joseph Henri Maurice "the Rocket" Richard, Sr., was a French-Canadian professional ice hockey player who played for the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League from 1942 to 1960. The "Rocket" was the most prolific goal-scorer of his era, the first to achieve the feat of 50 goals in 50...

 became the first player to score 50 goals, doing so in a 50 game season
50 goals in 50 games
"50 goals in 50 games" refers to the act of scoring 50 goals in the first 50 games of a National Hockey League season. Scoring fifty goals in fifty games in the NHL is a rare achievement....

. Ten years later he was suspended for the 1955 Stanley Cup playoffs for punching a linesman, an incident that led to the Richard Riot
Richard Riot
The Richard Riot was a riot on March 17, 1955 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The riot was named after Maurice Richard, the star ice hockey player for the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League...

. He returned to lead the Canadiens to five consecutive titles between 1956 and 1960, a record no team has matched. Willie O'Ree
Willie O'Ree
Willie Eldon O'Ree, OC, ONB is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, known best for being the first black player in the National Hockey League. O'Ree played as a winger for the Boston Bruins...

 broke the NHL's colour barrier on January 18, 1958 when he made his debut with the Boston Bruins and became the first black player in league history.

Expansion

By the mid 1960s, the desire for a network television contract in the U.S., and concerns that the Western Hockey League
Western Hockey League (minor pro)
The Western Hockey League was a minor pro ice hockey league that operated from 1952 to 1974. Managed for most of its history by Hockey Hall of Fame member Al Leader, it was created out of the merger of the Pacific Coast Hockey League and the Western Canada Senior Hockey League...

 was planning to declare itself a major league and challenge for the Stanley Cup, spurred the NHL to undertake its first expansion
1967 NHL expansion
The National Hockey League undertook a major expansion for the 1967–68 season, adding six new franchises to double the size of the league. This marked the first change in the composition of the league since 1942, when the Brooklyn Americans folded. Thus, the expansion ended the era of the Original...

 since the 1920s. The league doubled in size for the 1967–68 season, adding the Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are a professional ice hockey team based in Los Angeles, California. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

, Minnesota North Stars
Minnesota North Stars
The Minnesota North Stars were a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League for 26 seasons, from 1967 to 1993. The North Stars played their home games at the Met Center in Bloomington, and the team's colors for most of its history were green, yellow, gold and white...

, Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers are a professional ice hockey team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

, Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins are a professional ice hockey team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The franchise was founded in 1967 as one of the first expansion teams during the league's original...

, California Seals and St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues are a professional ice hockey team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The team is named after the famous W. C. Handy song "St. Louis Blues", and plays in the 19,150-seat Scottrade...

. Canadians were outraged that all six teams were placed in the United States, and the league responded by adding the Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks are a professional ice hockey team based in Vancouver, :British Columbia, Canada. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The Canucks play their home games at Rogers Arena, formerly known as General Motors Place,...

 in 1970 along with the Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres are a professional ice hockey team based in Buffalo, New York. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League .-Founding and early success: 1970-71—1980-81:...

, who are located on the U.S.-Canadian border. Two years later, the emergence of the newly founded World Hockey Association
World Hockey Association
The World Hockey Association was a professional ice hockey league that operated in North America from 1972 to 1979. It was the first major competition for the National Hockey League since the collapse of the Western Hockey League in 1926...

 (WHA) led the league to add the New York Islanders
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team based in Uniondale, New York. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

 and Atlanta Flames
Atlanta Flames
The Atlanta Flames were a professional ice hockey team based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA from 1972 to 1980. The team, a member of the National Hockey League , was relocated to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for the start of the 1980–81 NHL season and were re-named the Calgary Flames. The NHL returned to the...

 to keep the rival league out of those markets. In 1974, the Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals are a professional ice hockey team based in Washington, D.C. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . Since their founding in 1974, "The Caps" have won one conference championship to reach the 1998 Stanley Cup...

 and Kansas City Scouts
Kansas City Scouts
The Kansas City Scouts was a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League from 1974–76. In 1976, the franchise relocated to Denver, Colorado and became the Colorado Rockies...

 were added, bringing the league up to 18 teams.

The NHL fought the WHA for players, losing 67 to the new league in its first season of 1972–73, including Bobby Hull
Bobby Hull
Robert Marvin "Bobby" Hull, OC is a former Canadian ice hockey player. He is regarded as one of the greatest ice hockey players of all time and perhaps the greatest left winger to ever play the game. Hull was famous for his blonde hair, blinding skating speed, and having the hardest shot, earning...

, who signed a ten year, $2.5 million contract with the Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets were a professional ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They began play in the World Hockey Association in 1972, moving to the National Hockey League in 1979 following the collapse of the WHA...

, the largest in hockey history at the time. The NHL attempted to block the defections in court, though a countersuit by the WHA led to a Philadelphia judge ruling the NHL's reserve clause
Reserve clause
The reserve clause is a term formerly employed in North American professional sports contracts. The reserve clause, contained in all standard player contracts, stated that, upon the contract's expiration the rights to the player were to be retained by the team to which he had been signed...

 to be illegal, eliminating the elder league's monopoly over the players. Seven years of battling for players and markets financially damaged both leagues, leading to a 1979 merger agreement
NHL–WHA merger
The 1979 merger of the NHL and WHA was the culmination of several years of negotiations between the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association that resulted in four WHA franchises joining the NHL as expansion franchises for the 1979–80 season...

 that saw the WHA cease operations while the NHL absorbed the Jets, Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They are members of the Northwest Division in the Western Conference of the National Hockey League ....

, Hartford Whalers
Hartford Whalers
The Hartford Whalers were a professional ice hockey team based for most of its existence in Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A.. The club played in the World Hockey Association from 1972–79 and in the National Hockey League from 1979–97...

 and Quebec Nordiques
Quebec Nordiques
The Quebec Nordiques were a professional ice hockey team based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. The Nordiques played in the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League...

.

Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Douglas Gretzky, CC is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. Nicknamed "The Great One", he is generally regarded as the best player in the history of the National Hockey League , and has been called "the greatest hockey player ever" by many sportswriters,...

 played one season in the WHA before joining the NHL in 1979–80 with the Oilers. He went on to lead the Oilers to four Stanley Cup championships in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988, and set single season records for goals (92 in 1981–82), assists (163 in 1985–86) and points (215 in 1985–86), as well as career records for goals (894), assists (1,963) and points (2,857). He was traded to the Kings in 1988, a deal that dramatically improved the NHL's popularity in the United States, and provided the impetus for the 1990s expansion cycles that saw the addition of the San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are a professional ice hockey team based in San Jose, California, United States. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a professional ice hockey team based in Tampa, Florida. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . They have one Stanley Cup championship in their history, in 2003–04. They are often referred to as the...

, Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators are a professional ice hockey team based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks are a professional ice hockey team based in Anaheim, California, USA. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

, Florida Panthers
Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers are a professional ice hockey team based in Sunrise, Florida, in the Miami metropolitan area. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . They play their games at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise and are the...

, Nashville Predators
Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are a professional ice hockey team based in Nashville, Tennessee. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

, Atlanta Thrashers
Atlanta Thrashers
The Atlanta Thrashers were a professional ice hockey team based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Atlanta was granted a franchise in the National Hockey League on June 25, 1997, and became the league's 28th franchise when it began play in the 1999–2000 NHL season...

, Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild are a professional ice hockey team based in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League ....

 and Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets are a professional ice hockey team based in Columbus, Ohio, United States. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

.

Labour issues

There have been three league-wide work stoppages in NHL history, all happening between 1992 and 2005.

The first was a strike by the National Hockey League Players Association in April 1992 which lasted for 10 days, but the strike was settled quickly and all affected games were rescheduled. A lockout at the start of the 1994–95 season forced the league to reduce the schedule from 84 games to just 48, with the teams playing only intra-conference games during the reduced season. The resulting collective bargaining agreement
NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement
The NHL collective bargaining agreement is the basic contract between the National Hockey League team owners and the NHL Players Association , designed to be arrived at through the typical labor-management negotiations of collective bargaining...

 was set for renegotiation in 1998 and extended to September 15, 2004.

With no new agreement in hand when the existing contract expired on September 15, 2004, league commissioner Gary Bettman
Gary Bettman
Gary Bruce Bettman is the commissioner of the National Hockey League , a post he has held since February 1, 1993. Previously, Bettman was a senior vice-president and general counsel to the National Basketball Association...

 announced a lockout of the players union and cessation of operations by the NHL head office. The lockout shut down the league for 310 days, the longest in sports history; the NHL was the first professional sports league to lose an entire season. The league vowed to install what it dubbed "cost certainty" for its teams, but the NHL Players Association
NHL Players Association
The National Hockey League Players' Association or NHLPA is the labor union for the group of professional hockey players who are under Standard Player Contracts to the thirty member clubs in the National Hockey League located in the United States and Canada...

 countered that the move was little more than a euphemism for a salary cap
Salary cap
In professional sports, a salary cap is a cartel agreement between teams that places a limit on the amount of money that can be spent on player salaries. The limit exists as a per-player limit or a total limit for the team's roster, or both...

, which the union initially said it would not accept. A new collective bargaining agreement was ratified in July 2005 with a term of six years with an option of extending the collective bargaining agreement
NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement
The NHL collective bargaining agreement is the basic contract between the National Hockey League team owners and the NHL Players Association , designed to be arrived at through the typical labor-management negotiations of collective bargaining...

 for an additional year at the end of the term, allowing the NHL to resume as of the 2005–06 season.

On October 5, 2005, the first post-lockout NHL season took to the ice with 15 games, and consequently all 30 teams. Of those 15 games, 11 were in front of sell-out crowds. The NHL received record attendance in the 2005–06 season. 20,854,169 fans, an average of 16,955 per game, was a 1.2% increase over the previous mark held in the 2001–02 season. Also, the Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is officially known as ...

, Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames are a professional ice hockey team based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is the third major-professional ice hockey team to represent the city of Calgary, following the...

, Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are a professional ice hockey team based in Denver, Colorado, United States. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The Avalanche have won the Stanley Cup twice, in 1995–96 and 2000–01. The franchise...

, Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild are a professional ice hockey team based in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League ....

, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a professional ice hockey team based in Tampa, Florida. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . They have one Stanley Cup championship in their history, in 2003–04. They are often referred to as the...

, and the Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks are a professional ice hockey team based in Vancouver, :British Columbia, Canada. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The Canucks play their home games at Rogers Arena, formerly known as General Motors Place,...

 sold out all of their home games; all six Canadian teams played to 98% capacity or better at every home game. 24 of the 30 clubs finished even or ahead of their 2003–04 mark. The Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins are a professional ice hockey team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The franchise was founded in 1967 as one of the first expansion teams during the league's original...

 had the highest increase at 33%, mainly because of 18-year-old first overall draft pick Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby
Sidney Patrick Crosby ONS is a Canadian professional ice hockey player and captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League . Crosby was drafted first overall by the Penguins out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League...

. After losing a season to a labour dispute in 2005, attendance figures for League teams have returned to solid ground; the League's TV audience was slower to rebound because of ESPN's decision to drop the sport from its schedule. The NHL's post-lockout agreement with NBC gave the league a share of revenue from each game's advertising sales, rather than the usual lump sum paid up front for game rights. The NHL is estimated to earn annual revenue of around $2.27 billion.

The debut of the Winter Classic
NHL Winter Classic
The NHL Winter Classic is an annual event held by the National Hockey League on New Year's Day where regular-season games are played outdoors, in areas hosted by NHL teams. Though largely derived from the Heritage Classic outdoor game held in Edmonton in 2003, the Winter Classic has so far only...

, an outdoor regular season NHL game held on New Year's Day
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome...

 2008, was a major success for the league. The game has since become a permanent staple of the NHL schedule. This, along with the transition to a national "Game of the Week" and an annual "Hockey Day in America" regional coverage, has helped increase the NHL's regular season television viewership, which is now carried by NBC and Versus
NHL on Versus
The NHL on Versus was the former branding used for National Hockey League games broadcast on Versus. Versus became the NHL's cable partner in the United States beginning in the 2005-06 season from previous partner ESPN, providing coverage of regular season games, playoff games, and select games...

. These improvements led NBC and Versus to sign a ten-year broadcast deal paying $200 million per year for both cable and broadcast rights; the deal will lead to further increases in television coverage on both outlets.

Organizational structure

The NHL Board of Governors is the ruling and governing body of the NHL. In this context, each NHL team is a member of the NHL, and each member appoints a Governor (usually the owner of the club), and two alternates to the Board. The current chairman of the Board is Boston Bruins owner, Jeremy Jacobs
Jeremy Jacobs
Jeremy Maurice Jacobs, Sr. perhaps best known as the owner of the Boston Bruins, is also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Delaware North Companies...

. The NHL Board of Governors exists to establish the policies of the NHL, and to uphold its constitution. Some of the responsibilities of the NHL Board of Governors include:
  • review and approve any rule changes to the game
  • hiring and firing of the NHL commissioner
  • review and approve the purchase, sale, or relocation of any member club.
  • review and approve the salary caps for member clubs.
  • review and approve any changes to the structure of the game schedule


The Board of Governors meets twice per year, in June and December, with the exact date and place to be fixed by the NHL Commissioner.

Executives

The chief executive of the NHL is the commissioner
NHL Commissioner
The National Hockey League Commissioner is the highest-ranking executive officer in the National Hockey League . The position was created in 1993 with Gary Bettman as the first Commissioner...

. Some of the principal decision makers who serve under the authority of the NHL commissioner include:
  • Deputy Commissioner & Chief Legal Officer – Bill Daly
    Bill Daly
    William L. "Bill" Daly is an attorney and the Current Deputy Commissioner and chief legal officer of the NHL under Commissioner Gary Bettman. He is also a Hockey Hall of Fame Board Member and former NHL Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. Before joining the NHL front office he worked for the...

  • Executive VP & CFO – Craig Harnett
  • Chief Operating Officer – John Collins
  • Executive VP & Director of Hockey Operations – Colin Campbell
  • NHL Enterprises – Ed Horne
  • Senior Vice-President of Player Safety - Brendan Shanahan
    Brendan Shanahan
    Brendan Frederick "Shanny" Shanahan is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey winger who currently serves as the National Hockey League's Vice President of Hockey and Business Development and head disciplinarian. Originally drafted by the New Jersey Devils second overall in the 1987 NHL Entry...


Game

Each National Hockey League regulation game is played between two teams and is 60 minutes long. The game is composed of three 20-minute periods with an intermission of either 15½ or 17 minutes (if nationally televised) between periods. Television timeouts are taken at the first stoppage of play after 6, 10, and 14 minutes of elapsed time unless there is a power play
Powerplay
"Power play" is a sporting term used in various games.*In ice hockey, a team is said to be on a power play when at least one opposing player is serving a penalty, and the team has a numerical advantage on the ice...

 or the first stoppage is the result of a goal scored. In these cases, the timeout will occur at the first stoppage after the penalty expires or the next stoppage after the goal, respectively. A new rule was introduced for the 2007–08 season that if the first stoppage of play is an icing
Icing (ice hockey)
Icing in ice hockey occurs when a player shoots the puck across at least two red lines, the opposing team's goal line being the last, and the puck remains untouched. It is, however, not icing if the puck is shot from behind the halfway line into the goal, or when the shot must be played by the...

, the TV timeout does not occur. This is to prevent players from getting a break despite not being allowed to change. At the end of the 60-minute regulation time, the team with the most goals wins the game. If a game is tied after regulation time, overtime
Overtime (ice hockey)
Overtime is a method of determining the winner and loser of an ice hockey match when the scores are tied after regulation. The two main methods are the overtime period and the shootout.-Overtime periods:...

 ensues. During the regular season, overtime is a five-minute, four-player on four-player sudden-death period, in which the first team to score a goal wins the game. Until the 2005–06 season, if no team was able to score in the five-minute overtime, the game ended in a tie.

Beginning in the 2005–06 season, if the game is still tied at the end of overtime, the game enters a shootout. Three players for each team in turn take a penalty shot
Penalty shot (ice hockey)
In ice hockey, a penalty shot is a type of penalty awarded when a team loses a clear scoring opportunity on a breakaway because of a foul committed by an opposing player. A player from the non-offending team is given an attempt to score a goal without opposition from any defending players except...

. The team with the most goals during the three-round shootout wins the game. If the game is still tied after the three shootout rounds, the shootout continues but becomes sudden death. Whichever team ultimately wins the shootout is awarded a goal in the game score and thus awarded two points in the standings. The losing team in overtime or shootout is awarded only one. Shootout goals and saves are not tracked in hockey statistics; shootout statistics are tracked separately.

Shootouts do not occur during the playoffs. In the playoffs, sudden-death 20-minute five-on-five periods are played until one team scores. While in theory a game could continue indefinitely, only four games have reached five overtime periods, two have reached six, and none have gone beyond six. There are no television timeouts during playoff overtime periods; the only break is to clean the loose ice at the first stoppage after the period is halfway finished.

Hockey rink

National Hockey League games are played on a rectangular hockey rink
Hockey rink
An ice hockey rink is an ice rink that is specifically designed for ice hockey, a team sport. It is rectangular with rounded corners and surrounded by a wall approximately 40 inches high called the boards.- Name origins :...

 with rounded corners surrounded by walls and plexiglass. It measures 25.91 by 60.92 metres (85 by 200 ft) in the NHL, while international standards call for a rink measuring 29–30 metres by 60–61 metres (95.14–98.43 ft by 196.85–200.13 ft). The center line divides the ice in half, and is used to judge icing violations. There are two blue lines that divide the rink roughly into thirds, which divide the ice into two attacking and one neutral zone. Near the end of both ends of the rink, there is a thin red goal line spanning the width of the ice, which is used to judge goals and icing calls.

Starting in the 2005–2006 season, after testing in the American Hockey League
American Hockey League
The American Hockey League is a 30-team professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental circuit for the National Hockey League...

, a trapezoidal area behind each goal net has been introduced. The goaltender can only play the puck within the area between the trapezoids or in front of the goal line; if the goaltender plays the puck behind the goal line and outside the trapezoidal area, a two minute minor penalty for delay of game
Delay of game (ice hockey)
Delay of game is a penalty in ice hockey. It results in the offending player spending two minutes in the penalty box. Delay of game is usually called under six circumstances:...

 is assessed by the referees.

Rules

Main articles: National Hockey League rules
National Hockey League rules
While the rules of the National Hockey League follows the general rules of ice hockey, it differs slightly from those used in international games organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation such as the Olympics.-Hockey rink:...


While the National Hockey League follows the general rules of ice hockey
Ice hockey
Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

, it differs slightly from those used in international games organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation
International Ice Hockey Federation
The International Ice Hockey Federation is the worldwide governing body for ice hockey and in-line hockey. It is based in Zurich, Switzerland, and has 70 members...

 (IIHF) such as the Olympics
Ice hockey at the Olympic Games
Ice hockey tournaments have been staged at the Olympic Games since 1920. The men's tournament was introduced at the 1920 Summer Olympics and was transferred permanently to the Winter Olympic Games programme in 1924. The women's tournament was first held at the 1998 Winter Olympics...

. Infractions of the rules can lead to either the stoppage of play in the case of offside
Offside (ice hockey)
In ice hockey, the current play is offside if a player on the attacking team enters the attacking zone before the puck itself enters the zone, either carried by a teammate or sent into the attacking zone by an attacking player. If a defending player carries, passes, or otherwise intentionally sends...

 and icing
Icing (ice hockey)
Icing in ice hockey occurs when a player shoots the puck across at least two red lines, the opposing team's goal line being the last, and the puck remains untouched. It is, however, not icing if the puck is shot from behind the halfway line into the goal, or when the shot must be played by the...

 calls, or a penalty call for more serious infractions.

During the 2004–05 lockout, the league changed some of the rules regarding being offside
Offside (ice hockey)
In ice hockey, the current play is offside if a player on the attacking team enters the attacking zone before the puck itself enters the zone, either carried by a teammate or sent into the attacking zone by an attacking player. If a defending player carries, passes, or otherwise intentionally sends...

. First, the league removed the "offside pass" or "two-line pass" rule, which required a stoppage in play if a pass originating from inside a team's defending zone was completed on the offensive side of the center line, unless the puck crossed the line before the player. Furthermore, the league reinstated the "tag-up offside" which allows an attacking player a chance to get back onside by returning to the neutral zone. The changes to the offside rule were among several rule changes intended to increase overall scoring, which had been in decline since the expansion years of the mid-nineties and the increased prevalence of the neutral zone trap
Neutral zone trap
The neutral zone trap is a defensive strategy used in ice hockey to prevent an opposing team from proceeding through the neutral zone to force turnovers...

.

Another rule difference between the NHL and the IIHF rules concerns how icings
Icing (ice hockey)
Icing in ice hockey occurs when a player shoots the puck across at least two red lines, the opposing team's goal line being the last, and the puck remains untouched. It is, however, not icing if the puck is shot from behind the halfway line into the goal, or when the shot must be played by the...

 are called. In the NHL, a linesman stops play due to icing if a defending player (other than the goaltender) touches the puck before an attacking player is able to, in contrast to the IIHF rules where play is stopped the moment the puck crosses the goal line. As a result of the rule changes following the 2004–05 lockout, when a team is guilty of icing the puck they are not allowed to make a line change, or skater substitution of any sort (except for a clearly injured player) before the following faceoff
Faceoff
A face-off is the method used to begin play in ice hockey and some other sports. The two teams line up in opposition to each other, and the opposing centres attempt to gain control of the puck after it is dropped between their sticks by an official. One of the referees drops the puck at centre ice...

.

The NHL and IIHF differ also in penalty rules. The NHL, in addition to the minor and double minor penalties called in IIHF games, calls major penalties which are more dangerous infractions of the rules, such as fighting, and have a duration of five minutes. This is in contrast to the IIHF rule, in which players who fight are ejected from the game. Usually a penalized team cannot replace a player that is penalized on the ice and is thus shorthanded for the duration of the penalty, but if the penalties are coincidental, for example when two players fight, both teams remain at full strength. Also, unlike minor penalties, major penalties must be served to their full completion, regardless of number of goals scored during the power play.

The NHL and the NHLPA created a stringent anti-doping policy in the new CBA
NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement
The NHL collective bargaining agreement is the basic contract between the National Hockey League team owners and the NHL Players Association , designed to be arrived at through the typical labor-management negotiations of collective bargaining...

 of September 2005. The policy provides for a 20 game suspension for a first positive test, a 60 game suspension for a second positive test, and a lifetime suspension for a third positive test.

Teams

The National Hockey League originated in 1917 with four Canadian teams, which after a tumultous first quarter century, found stability in the Original Six
Original Six
The Original Six is a term for the group of six teams that composed the National Hockey League for the 25 seasons between the 1942–43 season and the 1967 NHL Expansion. These six teams are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and the...

 era spanning 1942 – 1967 with four franchises in the United States joining two Canadian clubs. Through a sequence of team expansions, reductions, and relocations the NHL currently consists of 30 teams, 23 of which are based in the United States and seven in Canada. The Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is officially known as ...

 are the most successful franchise with 24 Stanley Cup championships (23 as an NHL team, 1 as an NHA team); in the four major professional sports leagues the Montreal Canadiens are only surpassed in the number of championships by the New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

 of Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, who have three more. The next most successful franchise is the Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a professional ice hockey team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

 with 13 Stanley Cup championships, but they have not won one since 1967. The Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are a professional ice hockey team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League , and are one of the Original Six teams of the NHL, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, New York...

, with 11 Stanley Cup championships, are the most successful American franchise. The longest streak of winning the Stanley Cup in consecutive years is five, held by the Montreal Canadiens from 1955–56 to 1959–60; the New York Islanders
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team based in Uniondale, New York. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

 (1980–1983) and the Montreal Canadiens (1976–1979) have four-year championship streaks. The 1977 edition of the Montreal Canadiens, the second of four straight Stanley Cup champions, was named by ESPN
ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 as the second greatest sports team of all-time.

Of all the major leagues in North America, the NHL is the only league to field teams that play in two countries' capital cities, Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....



The current league organization divides the teams into two conferences: the Eastern Conference
Eastern Conference (NHL)
The Eastern Conference is one of two conferences in the National Hockey League used to divide teams. Its counterpart is the Western Conference....

 and the Western Conference
Western Conference (NHL)
The Western Conference is one of two conferences in the National Hockey League used to divide teams. Its counterpart is the Eastern Conference....

. Each conference has three divisions, and each division has five teams. The current organization has roots in the 1998–99 season when a league realignment added two divisions to bring the total number of divisions to six; the current team alignment began with the 2000–01 season when the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets joined the league as expansion teams.

Sixteen of the NHL's thirty teams are located in the Eastern Time Zone
Eastern Time Zone
The Eastern Time Zone of the United States and Canada is a time zone that falls mostly along the east coast of North America. Its UTC time offset is −5 hrs during standard time and −4 hrs during daylight saving time...

. As of the 2011–12 season, the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets are the only Eastern Time teams in the Western Conference, and Winnipeg is the only non-Eastern Time team in the Eastern Conference (an alignment resulting from the franchise's late move out of Atlanta). Realignment is widely expected at some point subsequent to the 2011–12 season.

List of teams

| New York Islanders
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team based in Uniondale, New York. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

>

Notes

Defunct and relocated teams

There have been 19 NHL teams that either folded or relocated. The first team to disband was the Montreal Wanderers
Montreal Wanderers
The Montreal Wanderers were a Canadian amateur, and later becoming a professional men's ice hockey team. The team played in the Federal Amateur Hockey League , the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association , the National Hockey Association and briefly the National Hockey League . The Wanderers are...

 in 1918, due to a lack of players. The first team to relocate was the Quebec Athletic Club, who relocated to Hamilton, Ontario
Hamilton, Ontario
Hamilton is a port city in the Canadian province of Ontario. Conceived by George Hamilton when he purchased the Durand farm shortly after the War of 1812, Hamilton has become the centre of a densely populated and industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe...

 in 1920 to become the Hamilton Tigers. NHL president Frank Calder
Frank Calder
-External links:*...

 stripped the franchise from owner Mike Quinn and sold it to a Hamilton-based company. Three franchises succumbed to the economic pressures of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

: the Philadelphia Quakers
Philadelphia Quakers
Philadelphia Quakers may refer to:*Members of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends .*Philadelphia Phillies, an American baseball team originally known as the Philadelphia Quakers...

, St. Louis Eagles
St. Louis Eagles
The St. Louis Eagles were a professional ice hockey team and a former member of the National Hockey League based in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles existed for only one year, playing in the 1934–35 NHL season....

, and Montreal Maroons
Montreal Maroons
The Montreal Maroons was a professional men's ice hockey team in the National Hockey League . They played in the NHL from 1924 to 1938, winning the Stanley Cup in 1926 and 1935...

. The Brooklyn Americans
New York Americans
The New York Americans were a professional ice hockey team based in New York, New York from 1925 to 1942. They were the third expansion team in the history of the National Hockey League and the second to play in the United States. The team never won the Stanley Cup, but reached the semifinals...

 were the last team to fold in the NHL. In the early 1940s, the franchise was struggling financially, and was suspended prior to the due to a lack of players during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The franchise formally ceased operations in 1946, and their demise began a period in the league's history
History of the National Hockey League (1942–1967)
The Original Six era of the National Hockey League began in 1942 with the demise of the Brooklyn Americans, reducing the NHL to six teams. The NHL, comprising the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, remained stable...

 known as the "Original Six
Original Six
The Original Six is a term for the group of six teams that composed the National Hockey League for the 25 seasons between the 1942–43 season and the 1967 NHL Expansion. These six teams are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and the...

".

The 1967 NHL expansion
1967 NHL expansion
The National Hockey League undertook a major expansion for the 1967–68 season, adding six new franchises to double the size of the league. This marked the first change in the composition of the league since 1942, when the Brooklyn Americans folded. Thus, the expansion ended the era of the Original...

 added six teams, but one of those teams, the California Golden Seals
California Golden Seals
The California Golden Seals were a team in the National Hockey League from 1967–76. Initially named California Seals, the team was renamed Oakland Seals part-way through the 1967–68 season, and then to California Golden Seals in 1970. The Seals were one of six teams added to the league as part of...

, moved to become the Cleveland Barons
Cleveland Barons
The name Cleveland Barons has been used by three professional hockey teams and one junior team.*Cleveland Barons , the National Hockey League team that played between 1976 and 1978...

 before merging with the Minnesota North Stars
Minnesota North Stars
The Minnesota North Stars were a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League for 26 seasons, from 1967 to 1993. The North Stars played their home games at the Met Center in Bloomington, and the team's colors for most of its history were green, yellow, gold and white...

 in 1978 when both clubs were on the verge of folding. With six more expansion teams in the 1970s, and the 1979 NHL–WHA merger
NHL–WHA merger
The 1979 merger of the NHL and WHA was the culmination of several years of negotiations between the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association that resulted in four WHA franchises joining the NHL as expansion franchises for the 1979–80 season...

, the league had 21 teams at the end of the decade. Three of the four teams from the merger have since relocated to other cities: the Quebec Nordiques
Quebec Nordiques
The Quebec Nordiques were a professional ice hockey team based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. The Nordiques played in the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League...

, the original Winnipeg Jets, and the Hartford Whalers
Hartford Whalers
The Hartford Whalers were a professional ice hockey team based for most of its existence in Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A.. The club played in the World Hockey Association from 1972–79 and in the National Hockey League from 1979–97...

. The Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are a professional ice hockey team based in Denver, Colorado, United States. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The Avalanche have won the Stanley Cup twice, in 1995–96 and 2000–01. The franchise...

 in 1995, while the Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes
Phoenix Coyotes
The Phoenix Coyotes are a professional ice hockey team based in Glendale, Arizona. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . They play their home games at Jobing.com Arena....

 in 1996, with the Whalers becoming the Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are a professional ice hockey team based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League , and play their home games at the 18,680-seat RBC Center...

 a year later.

During the 2010-11 playoffs, the Atlanta Thrashers
Atlanta Thrashers
The Atlanta Thrashers were a professional ice hockey team based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Atlanta was granted a franchise in the National Hockey League on June 25, 1997, and became the league's 28th franchise when it began play in the 1999–2000 NHL season...

 franchise was acquired by True North Sports and Entertainment, who moved the team to Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

 for 2011–12
2011–12 NHL season
The 2011–12 NHL season is the 95th season of operation of the National Hockey League . It is the fifth consecutive season that opens in Europe with NHL Premiere games. As with the previous season, three events are scheduled: two games will be held in Stockholm, Sweden; one game in Helsinki,...

, giving the team the revived name Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets were a professional ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They began play in the World Hockey Association in 1972, moving to the National Hockey League in 1979 following the collapse of the WHA...

.

Season structure

The National Hockey League season is divided into an exhibition season (September), a regular season (from the first week in October through early to mid April) and a postseason (the Stanley Cup playoffs
Stanley Cup playoffs
The Stanley Cup playoffs is an elimination tournament in the National Hockey League consisting of four rounds of best-of-seven series. Eight teams from each of the league's two conferences qualify for the playoffs based on regular season records...

). During the exhibition season, teams may play other teams from the NHL. They also often compete against European clubs, such as clubs from the Russian KHL
Kontinental Hockey League
The Kontinental Hockey League is an international professional ice hockey league in Eurasia founded in 2008. As of 2009, it is ranked as the strongest hockey league in Europe....

. During the regular season, clubs play each other in a predefined schedule. The Stanley Cup playoffs, which go from April to the beginning of June, is an elimination tournament where two teams play against each other to win a best-of-seven series in order to advance to the next round. The final remaining team is crowned the Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup is an ice hockey club trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoffs champion after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals. It has been referred to as The Cup, Lord Stanley's Cup, The Holy Grail, or facetiously as Lord Stanley's Mug...

 champion. Beginning in 2007, the NHL regular season has begun in Europe while teams not involved complete their exhibition schedule.

In the regular season, each team plays 82 games; 41 games at home and 41 on the road. Each team plays 24 games in its division
Division (sport)
In sports, a division is a group of teams who compete against each other for a championship.-League system:In sports using a league system , a division consists a group of teams who play a sport at a similar competitive level...

—6 against each divisional opponent—and 40 games against non-divisional intra-conference opponents—4 games against every team in the other two divisions of its conference. Each team plays every team in the other conference at least once—one game each against 12 teams and two games against the remaining 3 teams. For three seasons between 2005 and 2008, teams played 32 games within their division—8 games against each team in the division—and 10 inter-conference games—1 game against each team in two of the three divisions in the opposite conference. The two divisions faced from the opposite conference were rotated every year, much like interleague play
Interleague play
Interleague play is the term used to describe regular season Major League Baseball games played between teams in different leagues, introduced in . Before the 1997 season, teams in the American League and National League did not meet during the regular season...

 in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

. As with the current system, each team played 4 games against the other 10 teams in its conference outside of its division.

Unlike a majority of other North American sports leagues, the NHL's regular season standings are based on a point system instead of pure win-loss-tie percentages. Points are awarded for each game, where two points are awarded for a win, one point for losing in overtime or a shootout, and zero points for a loss in regulation. Among major professional sports leagues, the NHL is the only one to award a team points for losing in overtime.

At the end of the regular season, the team that finishes with the most points in each division is crowned the division champion. The league's overall leader is awarded the Presidents' Trophy
Presidents' Trophy
The Presidents' Trophy is an award presented by the National Hockey League to the team that finishes with the most points in the league during the regular season. If two teams tie for the most points, then the trophy goes to the team with the most wins. The winning team is also awarded C$350,000...

. The three division champions along with the five other teams in each conference with the next highest number of points, for a total of 8 teams in each conference, qualify for the playoff
Playoff
The playoffs, postseason, or finals of a sports league are a game or series of games played after the regular season by the top competitors, usually but not always with a single-elimination system, to determine the league champion or a similar accolade.In the U.S...

s. The division winners are seeded one through three (even if a non-division winner has a higher point total), and the next five teams with the best records in the conference are seeded four through eight. The Stanley Cup playoffs
Stanley Cup playoffs
The Stanley Cup playoffs is an elimination tournament in the National Hockey League consisting of four rounds of best-of-seven series. Eight teams from each of the league's two conferences qualify for the playoffs based on regular season records...

 is an elimination tournament
Tournament
A tournament is a competition involving a relatively large number of competitors, all participating in a sport or game. More specifically, the term may be used in either of two overlapping senses:...

, where two teams battle to win a best-of-seven series in order to advance to the next round. The first round of the playoffs, or conference quarterfinals, consists of the first seed playing the eighth seed, the second playing the seventh, third playing the sixth, and the fourth playing the fifth. In the second round, or conference semifinals, the NHL re-seeds the teams, with the top remaining conference seed playing against the lowest remaining seed, and the other two remaining conference teams pairing off. In the third round, the conference finals, the two remaining teams in each conference play each other, with the conference champions proceeding to the Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup is an ice hockey club trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoffs champion after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals. It has been referred to as The Cup, Lord Stanley's Cup, The Holy Grail, or facetiously as Lord Stanley's Mug...

 Finals.

In each round the higher-ranked team is said to be the team with the home-ice advantage
Home team
In team sports, the term home advantage describes the advantage–usually a psychological advantage–that the home team is said to have over the visiting team as a result of playing in familiar facilities and in front of supportive fans...

. Four of the seven games are played at this team's home venue—the first and second, and, when necessary, the fifth and seventh games—with the other games played at the lower-ranked team's home venue. In the Stanley Cup Finals, the team with the most points during the regular season is given home-ice advantage, regardless of where each team ranks in their own conference.

Trophies and awards

Total Stanley Cup championships
Defunct teams not included.
Team Titles
Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is officially known as ...

 
24*
Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a professional ice hockey team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

 
13
Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are a professional ice hockey team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League , and are one of the Original Six teams of the NHL, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, New York...

 
11
Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins are a professional ice hockey team based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The team has been in existence since 1924, and is the league's third-oldest team and its oldest in the...

 
6
Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They are members of the Northwest Division in the Western Conference of the National Hockey League ....

 
5
Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks are a professional ice hockey team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . They have won four Stanley Cup championships since their founding in 1926, most recently coming in 2009-10...

 
4
New York Islanders
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team based in Uniondale, New York. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

 
4
New York Rangers
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are a professional ice hockey team based in the borough of Manhattan in New York, New York, USA. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . Playing their home games at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers are one of the...

 
4
New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils are a professional ice hockey team based in Newark, New Jersey, United States. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

 
3
Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins are a professional ice hockey team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The franchise was founded in 1967 as one of the first expansion teams during the league's original...

 
3
Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are a professional ice hockey team based in Denver, Colorado, United States. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The Avalanche have won the Stanley Cup twice, in 1995–96 and 2000–01. The franchise...

 
2
Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers are a professional ice hockey team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League...

 
2
Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks are a professional ice hockey team based in Anaheim, California, USA. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League...

 
1
Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames are a professional ice hockey team based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is the third major-professional ice hockey team to represent the city of Calgary, following the...

 
1
Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are a professional ice hockey team based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League , and play their home games at the 18,680-seat RBC Center...

 
1
Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars are a professional ice hockey team based in Dallas, Texas. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The team was founded during the 1967 NHL expansion as the Minnesota North Stars, based in Bloomington, Minnesota. The...

 
1
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a professional ice hockey team based in Tampa, Florida. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . They have one Stanley Cup championship in their history, in 2003–04. They are often referred to as the...

 
1
* One championship was before the formation of the NHL.


The National Hockey League presents a number of trophies each year. The most prestigious team award is the Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup is an ice hockey club trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoffs champion after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals. It has been referred to as The Cup, Lord Stanley's Cup, The Holy Grail, or facetiously as Lord Stanley's Mug...

, which is awarded to the league champion at the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The team that has the most points in the regular season is awarded the Presidents' Trophy
Presidents' Trophy
The Presidents' Trophy is an award presented by the National Hockey League to the team that finishes with the most points in the league during the regular season. If two teams tie for the most points, then the trophy goes to the team with the most wins. The winning team is also awarded C$350,000...

. There are also numerous trophies that are awarded to players based on their statistics during the regular season; they include, among others, the Art Ross Trophy
Art Ross Trophy
The Art Ross Trophy is awarded to the National Hockey League player who leads the league in scoring points at the end of the regular season. It was presented to the NHL by former player, general manager, and head coach Art Ross. The trophy has been awarded 61 times to 25 players since its inception...

 for the league scoring champion (goals and assists), the Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy
Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy
The Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy, also known as the Maurice Richard Trophy is awarded annually to the leading goal scorer in the National Hockey League . It was donated to the NHL by the Montreal Canadiens hockey club in and is named in honour of the legendary Montreal Canadiens right winger...

 for the goal-scoring leader, and the William M. Jennings Trophy
William M. Jennings Trophy
The William M. Jennings Trophy is an annual National Hockey League award given to "the goalkeeper having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it. Winners are selected based on regular-season play." From 1946 until 1981, the Vezina Trophy had been awarded...

 for the goalkeeper(s) for the team with the fewest goals against them. For the 2010–11 season these statistics-based trophies were awarded to Daniel Sedin
Daniel Sedin
Daniel Sedin is a Swedish professional ice hockey winger with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League , and serves as an alternate captain for the Canucks during home games. His identical twin brother Henrik also plays for the Canucks, and is the team captain...

 of the Vancouver Canucks, Corey Perry
Corey Perry
Corey Perry is a Canadian professional ice hockey winger currently playing for the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League . Drafted out of the Ontario Hockey League , he captured a Memorial Cup with the London Knights and a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships during...

 of the Anaheim Ducks, and, dually, Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo is a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League . Born in Montreal, Quebec, he is of Italian and Irish ancestry. He employs the butterfly style of goaltending...

 and Cory Schneider
Cory Schneider
Cory Franklin Schneider is an American professional ice hockey goaltender with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League .Schneider was selected in the first round, 26th overall, by the Canucks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft...

 of the Vancouver Canucks respectively.

The other player trophies are voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association
Professional Hockey Writers' Association
The Professional Hockey Writers' Association is a North American professional association for ice hockey journalists writing for newspapers, magazines and websites...

 or the team general managers. These individual awards are presented at a formal ceremony held in late June after the playoffs have concluded. The most prestigious individual award is the Hart Memorial Trophy
Hart Memorial Trophy
The Hart Memorial Trophy, originally known as the Hart Trophy, the "oldest and most prestigious individual award in hockey", is awarded annually to the "player adjudged most valuable to his team" in the National Hockey League . The Hart Memorial Trophy has been awarded 86 times to 53 different...

 which is awarded annually to the Most Valuable Player
Most Valuable Player
In sports, a Most Valuable Player award is an honor typically bestowed upon the best performing player or players on a specific team, in an entire league, or for a particular contest or series of contests...

; the voting is conducted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association to judge the player who is the most valuable to his team during the regular season. The Vezina Trophy
Vezina Trophy
The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League's goaltender who is "adjudged to be the best at this position". At the end of each season, the 30 General Managers of the teams in the National Hockey League vote to determine the goaltender who was the most valuable to his team...

 is awarded annually to the person deemed the best goalkeeper as voted on by the general managers of the teams in the NHL. The James Norris Memorial Trophy
James Norris Memorial Trophy
The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League's top "defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position". The James Norris Memorial Trophy has been awarded 55 times to 23 different players since its beginnings in...

 is awarded annually to the National Hockey League's top defenceman, the Calder Memorial Trophy
Calder Memorial Trophy
The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League." The Rookie of the Year trophy has been awarded 79 times since its creation for the 1936–37 NHL season...

 is awarded annually to the top rookie, and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, formerly known as the Lady Byng Trophy, is presented each year to the National Hockey League "player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability"...

 is awarded to the player deemed to combine the highest degree of skill and sportsmanship; all three of these awards are voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

In addition to the regular season awards, the Conn Smythe Trophy
Conn Smythe Trophy
The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team during the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup playoffs. The Conn Smythe Trophy has been awarded 46 times to 40 players since the 1964–65 NHL season...

 is awarded annually to the most valuable player during the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs. Furthermore, the top coach in the league wins the Jack Adams Award
Jack Adams Award
The Jack Adams Award is awarded annually to the National Hockey League coach "adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success." It has been awarded 37 times to 32 different coaches. The winner is selected by a poll of the National Hockey League Broadcasters Association at the end of the...

 as selected by a poll of the National Hockey League Broadcasters Association. The National Hockey League publishes the names of the top three vote getters for all awards, and then names the award winner during the NHL Awards Ceremony.

One interesting aspect for the trophies in the NHL is that the same trophy is reused every year for each of its awards. The Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup is an ice hockey club trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoffs champion after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals. It has been referred to as The Cup, Lord Stanley's Cup, The Holy Grail, or facetiously as Lord Stanley's Mug...

, much like its CFL
Canadian Football League
The Canadian Football League or CFL is a professional sports league located in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football, a form of gridiron football closely related to American football....

 counterpart
Grey Cup
The Grey Cup is both the name of the championship of the Canadian Football League and the name of the trophy awarded to the victorious team. It is Canada's largest annual sports and television event, regularly drawing a Canadian viewing audience of about 3 to 4 million individuals...

, is unique in this aspect, as opposed to the Vince Lombardi Trophy
Vince Lombardi Trophy
The Vince Lombardi Trophy is the trophy awarded each year to the winning team of the National Football League's championship game, the Super Bowl.-History:...

, Larry O'Brien Trophy, and Commissioner's Trophy
World Series Trophy
The Commissioner's Trophy is presented each year by the Commissioner of Baseball to the Major League Baseball team that wins the World Series. Recent trophy designs contain flags representing each team in North America's top two leagues, the National League and the American League...

, which have new ones made every year for that year's champion. Despite only one trophy being used, the names of the teams winning and the players are engraved every year on the Stanley Cup. The same can also be said for the other trophies reissued every year.

Players, coaches, officials, and team builders who have had notable careers are eligible to be voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame
Hockey Hall of Fame
The Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Dedicated to the history of ice hockey, it is both a museum and a hall of fame. It holds exhibits about players, teams, National Hockey League records, memorabilia and NHL trophies, including the Stanley Cup...

. Players cannot enter until three years have passed since their last professional game, the shortest such time period of any major sport. One unique consequence has been Hall of Fame members (specifically, Gordie Howe
Gordie Howe
Gordon "Gordie" Howe, OC is a Canadian retired professional ice hockey player who played for the Detroit Red Wings and Hartford Whalers of the National Hockey League , and the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers in the World Hockey Association . Howe is often referred to as Mr...

, Guy Lafleur
Guy Lafleur
Guy Damien "The Flower" / "Le Démon Blond" Lafleur, OC, CQ is a former Canadian professional ice hockey player who is widely regarded as one of the most naturally gifted and popular players ever to play professional ice hockey...

, and Mario Lemieux
Mario Lemieux
Mario Lemieux, OC, CQ is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player. He is acknowledged to be one of the best players of all time. He played 17 seasons as a forward for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League between 1984 and 2006...

) coming out of retirement to play once more. If a player was deemed significant enough, the three-year wait would be waived; only ten individuals have been honoured in this manner. In 1999, Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Douglas Gretzky, CC is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. Nicknamed "The Great One", he is generally regarded as the best player in the history of the National Hockey League , and has been called "the greatest hockey player ever" by many sportswriters,...

 joined the Hall and became the last player to have the three-year restriction waived. After his induction, the Hall of Fame announced that Gretzky would be the last to have the waiting period waived.

Notable active players

The top five point scorers in the 2010–11 season
2010–11 NHL season
The 2010–11 NHL season was the 94th season of operation of the National Hockey League . It was the fourth consecutive season that opened in Europe with NHL Premiere . A record three events were scheduled, all in previous NHL Premiere cities: Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and Prague, Czech...

 were Daniel Sedin
Daniel Sedin
Daniel Sedin is a Swedish professional ice hockey winger with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League , and serves as an alternate captain for the Canucks during home games. His identical twin brother Henrik also plays for the Canucks, and is the team captain...

 (104), Martin St. Louis
Martin St. Louis
Martin St. Louis is a Canadian professional ice hockey right winger and alternate captain currently playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League .-Playing career:...

 (99), Corey Perry
Corey Perry
Corey Perry is a Canadian professional ice hockey winger currently playing for the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League . Drafted out of the Ontario Hockey League , he captured a Memorial Cup with the London Knights and a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships during...

 (98), Henrik Sedin
Henrik Sedin
Henrik Sedin is a Swedish professional ice hockey centre and captain of the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League . His identical twin brother Daniel also plays for the Canucks. Having played together throughout their careers, the pair are known for their effectiveness playing off one...

 (94), and Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos is a Canadian professional ice hockey player, an alternate captain for the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League . Stamkos was the first overall pick in the 2006 OHL Entry Draft, from the Markham Waxers of the OMHA. Playing with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey...

 (91). The top goal scorers were Corey Perry
Corey Perry
Corey Perry is a Canadian professional ice hockey winger currently playing for the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League . Drafted out of the Ontario Hockey League , he captured a Memorial Cup with the London Knights and a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships during...

 (50), Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos is a Canadian professional ice hockey player, an alternate captain for the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League . Stamkos was the first overall pick in the 2006 OHL Entry Draft, from the Markham Waxers of the OMHA. Playing with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey...

 (45), Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla
Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla is a Canadian professional ice hockey player for the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League . A six-time NHL All-Star, he is the Flames' all-time leader in goals, points, and games played, and is second in assists to Al MacInnis...

 (43), Daniel Sedin
Daniel Sedin
Daniel Sedin is a Swedish professional ice hockey winger with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League , and serves as an alternate captain for the Canucks during home games. His identical twin brother Henrik also plays for the Canucks, and is the team captain...

 (41), and Ryan Kesler
Ryan Kesler
Ryan James Kesler is an American professional ice hockey center for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League . He serves as an alternate captain for the Canucks during home games. Selected in the first round, 23rd overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Kesler has...

 (41). The top four scoring defencemen were Lubomir Visnovsky
Lubomír Višnovský
Ľubomír Višňovský is a Slovak professional ice hockey defenceman currently playing for the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League .-Playing career:...

, Nicklas Lidstrom
Nicklas Lidström
Nicklas Erik Lidström is a Swedish professional ice hockey defenseman who has played his entire National Hockey League career with the Detroit Red Wings, and is their captain...

, Keith Yandle
Keith Yandle
Keith Yandle is an American ice hockey defenseman and alternate captain for the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes.-Amateur:...

, and Dustin Byfuglien
Dustin Byfuglien
Dustin Ray Byfuglien is an American professional ice hockey player and an alternate captain of the Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League. His known nickname is "Big Buff," made up by his teammates...

. The top goaltenders (by wins) were Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo is a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League . Born in Montreal, Quebec, he is of Italian and Irish ancestry. He employs the butterfly style of goaltending...

 (38), Carey Price
Carey Price
Carey Price is a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League . Price was the Canadiens' first round selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft...

 (38), Miikka Kiprusoff
Miikka Kiprusoff
Miikka Sakari Kiprusoff is a Finnish professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League . He was selected in the fifth round, 116th overall by the San Jose Sharks in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He has also played for TPS of the Finnish SM-liiga...

 (37), Cam Ward
Cam Ward
Cameron Kenneth Ward is a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League . Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, he was raised in Sherwood Park, Alberta...

 (37), and Jimmy Howard
Jimmy Howard
James "Jimmy" Russell Howard III is an American professional ice hockey goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League...

 (37).

Origin of players

In addition to Canadian and American born and trained players, who have historically composed a large majority of NHL rosters, the NHL also draws players from an expanding pool of other nations where organized and professional hockey is played. A steady stream of European players began entering the league in the 1970s, continuing into the 1980s. Most of the first wave of Europeans came from Sweden and Finland, with a small number of defectors from the Soviet Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

. Since the collapse
Revolutions of 1989
The Revolutions of 1989 were the revolutions which overthrew the communist regimes in various Central and Eastern European countries.The events began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and...

 of the Soviet Bloc, political/ideological restrictions on the movement of hockey players from this region have disappeared, leading to a large influx of players mostly from Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia into the NHL. Swedes, Finns, and other Western Europeans, who were always free to move to North America, came to the league in greater numbers than before. Many of the league's top players today come from these European countries, including: Ilya Kovalchuk
Ilya Kovalchuk
Ilya Valerevich Kovalchuk is a Russian professional ice hockey left winger who is an alternate captain of the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League. Drafted first overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, he began his NHL career in 2001–02 with Atlanta and was...

, Henrik Sedin
Henrik Sedin
Henrik Sedin is a Swedish professional ice hockey centre and captain of the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League . His identical twin brother Daniel also plays for the Canucks. Having played together throughout their careers, the pair are known for their effectiveness playing off one...

, Daniel Sedin
Daniel Sedin
Daniel Sedin is a Swedish professional ice hockey winger with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League , and serves as an alternate captain for the Canucks during home games. His identical twin brother Henrik also plays for the Canucks, and is the team captain...

, Henrik Zetterberg
Henrik Zetterberg
Henrik “Zäta" Zetterberg is a Swedish professional ice hockey center and alternate captain currently playing for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League...

, Marian Hossa
Marian Hossa
Marián Hossa is a Slovak professional ice hockey player who currently plays for the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League . Hossa was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft; after playing for the Senators, he played for the Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and...

, Nicklas Lidstrom
Nicklas Lidström
Nicklas Erik Lidström is a Swedish professional ice hockey defenseman who has played his entire National Hockey League career with the Detroit Red Wings, and is their captain...

, Miikka Kiprusoff
Miikka Kiprusoff
Miikka Sakari Kiprusoff is a Finnish professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League . He was selected in the fifth round, 116th overall by the San Jose Sharks in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He has also played for TPS of the Finnish SM-liiga...

, Teemu Selanne
Teemu Selänne
Teemu Ilmari Selänne nicknamed "The Finnish Flash" is a Finnish professional ice hockey winger, an alternate captain of the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League . An offensive player known for his skill and speed, Selanne has led the NHL in goal-scoring three times and has been named to...

, Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chára
Zdeno Chára is a Slovak professional ice hockey defenseman. He is the captain of the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League and won the Norris Trophy while playing for them in 2008–09. At 6 ft 9 , he is the tallest player ever to play in the NHL...

, Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Valerievich Datsyuk is a professional ice hockey player from Russia and alternate captain for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League . He is known for his stick-handling and is considered the best two-way forward in the game today, having won the Frank J. Selke Trophy in the...

, Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni "Geno" Vladimirovich Malkin is a Russian professional ice hockey center and alternate captain for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League ....

, and Alexander Ovechkin
Alexander Ovechkin
Alexander Mikhaylovich Ovechkin is a Russian professional ice hockey left winger and captain of the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League...

. European players were drafted and signed by NHL teams in an effort to bring in more "skilled offensive players", although recently there has been a decline in European players as more American players enter the league. The addition of European players changed the style of play in the NHL and European style hockey has been integrated in to the NHL game. Conversely Canadian coaches and the Canadian style of play have been embraced by many European countries. Because of the continued success of Canadian teams in world tournaments many other countries are trying to model their development programs after Hockey Canada
Hockey Canada
Hockey Canada, formally known as the Canadian Hockey Association, is the national governing body of ice hockey in Canada and is a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation. Hockey Canada controls a vast majority of ice hockey in Canada, with a few exceptions...

's. In the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic years, the league voluntarily suspended its all star game and expanded the traditional all star break to allow NHL players an opportunity to represent their respective countries. The 2010 Winter Olympics
2010 Winter Olympics
The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially the XXI Olympic Winter Games or the 21st Winter Olympics, were a major international multi-sport event held from February 12–28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with some events held in the suburbs of Richmond, West Vancouver and the University...

 were held in Vancouver, an NHL city. Currently, as of late 2010 there is no agreement in place between the NHL and the IOC regarding the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Russia. The NHL has players from 18 different countries, with the majority (52.0 percent during the 2007–08 NHL season) coming from Canada.

The following table shows the origins of every player (skaters and goaltenders) who played an NHL regular season game in the given year. The table follows the Hockey Hall of Fame
Hockey Hall of Fame
The Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Dedicated to the history of ice hockey, it is both a museum and a hall of fame. It holds exhibits about players, teams, National Hockey League records, memorabilia and NHL trophies, including the Stanley Cup...

 convention of classifying players by the currently existing countries in which their birthplaces are located, without regard to their citizenship or where they were trained.
Country Players
(02–03)
% Players
(03–04)
% Players
(05–06)
% Players
(06–07)
% Players
(07–08)
% Players
(08–09
2008–09 NHL season
The 2008–09 NHL season was the 92nd season of operation of the National Hockey League . It was the first season since prior to the 2004–05 lockout in which every team played each other at least once during the season, following three seasons where teams only played against two divisions in the...

)
% Players
(09–10
2009–10 NHL season
The 2009–10 NHL season was the 93rd season of operation of the National Hockey League , and the 100th season since the founding of the predecessor National Hockey Association . It ran from October 1, 2009, including four games in Europe on October 2 and 3—until April 11, 2010, with the 2010...

)
% Players
(10–11
2010–11 NHL season
The 2010–11 NHL season was the 94th season of operation of the National Hockey League . It was the fourth consecutive season that opened in Europe with NHL Premiere . A record three events were scheduled, all in previous NHL Premiere cities: Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and Prague, Czech...

)
%
Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

1 0.1 3 0.3 3 0.3 2 0.2 2 0.2 3 0.3 3 0.3 3 0.3
Bahamas 1 0.1 1 0.1
Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

2 0.2 2 0.2 3 0.3 2 0.2 3 0.3 3 0.3 3 0.3 4 0.4
Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1
Brunei
Brunei
Brunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...

1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1
Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

488 49.8 548 54.3 517 53.8 495 52.7 489 52.0 509 52.3 520 53.9 521 53.3
Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

1 0.1
Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

73 7.4 74 7.3 65 6.8 65 6.9 59 6.3 57 5.9 48 5.0 42 4.3
Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

1 0.1 2 0.2 6 0.6 6 0.6 6 0.6
England, United Kingdom
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

2 0.2 2 0.2 1 0.1
Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

38 3.9 38 3.8 39 4.1 42 4.5 40 4.3 42 4.3 39 4.0 30 3.1
France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1
Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

6 0.6 6 0.6 8 0.8 8 0.8 9 1.0 9 0.9 10 1.0 9 0.9
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

1 0.1 1 0.1
Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

1 0.1 1 0.1
Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

1 0.1 1 0.1
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

2 0.2 3 0.3 6 0.6 4 0.4 3 0.3 2 0.2 3 0.3 1 0.1
Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

5 0.5 4 0.4 3 0.3 4 0.4 3 0.3 5 0.5 5 0.5 4 0.4
Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

2 0.2 2 0.2 2 0.2 2 0.2 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1
Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

1 0.1 2 0.2 1 0.1 2 0.2 2 0.2 1 0.1 1 0.1 2 0.2
Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

2 0.2 2 0.2 3 0.3 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1
Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

57 5.8 57 5.6 40 4.2 35 3.7 30 3.2 32 3.3 33 3.4 32 3.3
Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

35 3.6 37 3.7 31 3.2 25 2.7 23 2.4 18 1.8 18 1.9 14 1.4
Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 2 0.2
South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1
South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1
Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

58 5.9 52 5.1 45 4.7 49 5.2 52 5.5 53 5.4 52 5.4 63 6.4
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

2 0.2 3 0.3 4 0.4 5 0.5 6 0.6 5 0.5 3 0.3 6 0.6
Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

8 0.8 8 0.8 8 0.8 9 1.0 5 0.5 4 0.4 2 0.2 3 0.3
United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

140 14.3 160 15.8 177 18.4 182 19.3 203 21.6 216 22.2 207 21.5 234 23.9
Total 980 100.0 1010 100.0 961 100.0 942 100.0 941 100.0 974 100.0 965 100.0 978 100.0

Canada

In Canada, National Hockey League games are aired nationally by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
CBC Television
CBC Television is a Canadian television network owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the national public broadcaster.Although the CBC is supported by public funding, the television network supplements this funding with commercial advertising revenue, in contrast to CBC Radio which are...

 (CBC) and The Sports Network
NHL on TSN
The NHL on TSN is TSN's broadcast of National Hockey League games. The show's current incarnation debuted in 2002. The channel has exclusive local rights to the Montreal Canadiens and the Winnipeg Jets.-Coverage overview:...

 (TSN). CBC airs Hockey Night in Canada
Hockey Night in Canada
Hockey Night in Canada is the branding used for CBC Sports' presentations of the National Hockey League...

, a long-standing Canadian tradition dating to 1952, and even prior to that on radio since the 1920s. The current incarnation of Hockey Night in Canada airs a weekly Saturday night double-header during the regular season, with the first game usually featuring at least one Eastern Canadian team, and the second game at least one Western Canadian team. TSN usually televises three or four games per week during the regular season, with their primary night being Wednesdays. Coverage of the first three rounds of the playoffs is split between CBC and TSN, with the former primarily televising any series involving Canadian teams. CBC also broadcasts the Stanley Cup Finals.

French language games are broadcast by the Réseau des sports
Réseau des sports
Réseau des sports , is a Canadian French language Category C specialty channel showing sports and sport-related shows. It is available in 2.5 million homes, and is owned by CTV Specialty Television Inc....

 (RDS) and Réseau Info-Sports (RIS), including all Montreal Canadiens games, selected Ottawa Senator games, and the playoffs.

Several regional broadcasters air local team games, primarily regional networks owned by Rogers Sportsnet
Rogers Sportsnet
Sportsnet was launched on October 9, 1998 as CTV Sportsnet. The name was chosen to match the regional "Fox Sports Net" operations across the United States...

 (RSN), and Leafs TV
Leafs TV
Leafs TV is a Canadian English language Category B specialty channel owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. It was launched in September 2001. The channel presents programming revolving around the Toronto Maple Leafs National Hockey League club and their American Hockey League affiliate,...

 for selected Toronto Maple Leafs games. TSN also airs regional "TSN Habs" and "TSN Jets" feeds for selected Canadiens and Jets games respectively.

United States

Historically, the NHL has never fared well on American television in comparison to the other major leagues in North America. While CBC's aforementioned Hockey Night in Canada has been a tradition since the 1950s, the league's American broadcast partners have been in constant flux for decades, ranging from such networks as CBS
NHL on CBS
NHL on CBS is a former television program that broadcast National Hockey League games on CBS Sports. CBS was the first American television network to broadcast NHL games.-1956–1960 version:...

, SportsChannel America, the USA Network, Fox, ABC, and ESPN
ESPN National Hockey Night
ESPN National Hockey Night was ESPN's weekly television broadcasts of National Hockey League regular season games and coverage of playoff games, broadcast from 1992 to 2004...

.

Since the 2005-06 season however, NHL games have aired nationally by the cable channel Versus
NHL on Versus
The NHL on Versus was the former branding used for National Hockey League games broadcast on Versus. Versus became the NHL's cable partner in the United States beginning in the 2005-06 season from previous partner ESPN, providing coverage of regular season games, playoff games, and select games...

 (previously the "Outdoor Life Network" and to become "NBC Sports Network" in 2012) and by the broadcast network NBC. Originally, NBC had a revenue-sharing agreement with the league to broadcast games, with no money paid up front by the network. Versus had about 20 million fewer subscribers than ESPN when the NHL started on Versus, but its owner Comcast switched Versus from a digital tier to basic cable to make NHL games available to more cable subscribers as well as re-branded the network as a sports network. For Versus, the NHL coverage was a good addition as Versus' ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

 grew by about 275% when it showed an NHL game.

In January 2011, Comcast officially acquired NBC Universal
NBC Universal
NBCUniversal Media, LLC is a media and entertainment company engaged in the production and marketing of entertainment, news, and information products and services to a global customer base...

, and then in April of that year the league negotiated a new 10-year deal with the merged media company, worth nearly $2 billion dollars. Comcast/NBC also announced that Versus would become NBC Sports Network, and both the cable channel and NBC would increase its number of games.

Regional broadcasters also air local team games, including several of the regional sports networks owned by Comcast SportsNet
Comcast SportsNet
Comcast SportsNet is a group of regional sports networks in the United States primarily owned by the Comcast cable television company....

 and Fox Sports Net
Fox Sports Net
The Fox Sports Regional Networks, or simply Fox Sports Net , are a collection of cable TV regional sports networks in the United States owned and operated by News Corporation.- Beginnings :...

.

XM Satellite Radio
XM Satellite Radio
XM Satellite Radio is one of two satellite radio services in the United States and Canada, operated by Sirius XM Radio. It provides pay-for-service radio, analogous to cable television. Its service includes 73 different music channels, 39 news, sports, talk and entertainment channels, 21 regional...

 is the official satellite radio broadcaster of the NHL, as of July 1, 2007. Between September 2005 and June 2007, the NHL's broadcasting rights were shared with both XM and Sirius Satellite Radio
Sirius Satellite Radio
Sirius Satellite Radio is a satellite radio service operating in North America, owned by Sirius XM Radio.Headquartered in New York City, with smaller studios in Los Angeles and Memphis, Sirius was officially launched on July 1, 2002 and currently provides 69 streams of music and 65 streams of...

 and were broadcast on just Sirius before the NHL lockout. XM used to broadcast more than 80% of NHL games, including all the play-offs and finals. Starting with the 2007–08 season, XM broadcasts every game.

NHL Network

The league co-owns the NHL Network, a television specialty channel devoted to the NHL. There are two versions, one for Canadian viewers and a separate one for those in the United States. The NHL Network is a joint venture with other media companies. CTV Specialty Television and Insight Sports are both minority owners of the Canadian version, while NBCUniversal is a minority owner of the American version.

The NHL Network's signature show is NHL on the Fly
NHL on the Fly
NHL on the Fly is the flagship show on the NHL Network in Canada and the United States. It carries instant updates and extended highlights of every game in the NHL that night. The show also includes live "look-ins" to games for a few minutes at a time. After all the scheduled games for an evening...

, which covers NHL news, highlights, interviews, and analysis. The NHL Network also airs live games, with the Canadian version primarily focusing on those featuring Canadian teams and the American version focusing on American teams.

Out-of-market sports packages

NHL Centre Ice
NHL Centre Ice
NHL Centre Ice is a Canadian digital cable subscription Out-of-Market Sports Package. It is offered by three national satellite television service providers, Bell TV, TELUS Optik TV, Telus Satellite TV, and Shaw Direct and many digital cable television providers such as Rogers, Shaw, Cogeco and...

 for Canadian viewers and NHL Center Ice
NHL Center Ice
NHL Center Ice is an Out-of-Market Sports Package distributed by most cable and satellite providers in the United States and Canada. The package allows its subscribers to see up to forty out-of-market National Hockey League games a week using local and national television networks.NHL Center Ice...

 for American viewers are out-of-market sports package
Out-of-Market Sports Package
In the North America, an Out-of-Market Sports Package is a form of subscription television that broadcasts sporting events to areas who are unavailable to see them because the games are not broadcast in their local market....

s available by most cable and satellite providers. These packages allow subscribers to see up to forty out-of-market NHL games a week using local and national television networks. The NHL also offers a pay service called NHL Gamecenter Live on its website, allowing people to also watch out-of-market games online. All these services have blackout restrictions; games that are available locally on TV, either via a regional network or a national one, are blacked out.

International

Outside of Canada and the United States, NHL games are broadcast across Europe on ESPN America which takes feeds from Versus, FSN, TSN and CBC (including Hockey Night in Canada), and MSG. Games can also be seen in the UK on ESPN
ESPN (UK)
ESPN is a sports television channel in the United Kingdom and Ireland owned by American sports broadcaster ESPN Inc. The channel launched on 3 August 2009...

, on Fox Sports
Fox Sports (Australia)
Fox Sports is an Australia group of sports channels. They are owned by the Premier Media Group, which is in turn owned by News Corporation, and Consolidated Media Holdings. Its main competitors are ESPN, which has little local content and the free-to-air digital channel One HD...

 in Australia, on SKY Sport in Italy, on Viasat Sport
Viasat Sport
Viasat Sport is the common brand of several sports channels targeting the Nordic, Baltic and Eastern European countries owned by Modern Times Group.Viasat Sport is also the name of one tv-channel in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the Baltics...

 in Russia, Norway, Finland, and Denmark on Viasat Hockey
Viasat Hockey
Viasat Hockey is a sports channel that is broadcasting from the United Kingdom, primarily targeting Sweden but also available in Finland and Norway . Broadcasting was commenced on September 1, 2009, at the start of the 2009 ice hockey season...

 in Sweden and in Portugal on SportTV
Sport TV
SportTV is the brand name for a group of seven Portuguese sports-oriented television channels. SportTV is the dominant subscription television sports brand in Portugal. The first channel, then known as only SportTV, was launched on 16 September 1998 and is produced by ZON Multimédia and...

. In the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, NHL games are broadcast across Mexico, Central America and Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 on SKY México
SKY México
SKY México is a company that operates a subscription television service in the Mexico, Central America, Dominican Republic area. It produces TV content, and owns several TV channels...

. Stanley Cup games can also be viewed in New Zealand on Sky Sport
SKY Sport (New Zealand)
Sky Sport is a group of sports-oriented television channels operated by New Zealand's satellite pay-TV company, Sky Network Television. Sky Sport 1 was launched in 1990...

. In Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, the games will be broadcast on ESPN International
ESPN International
ESPN International is a family of networks around the world. It was begun in 1989 and is operated by ESPN. It consists of:Asia: *ESPN SEA*ESPN SEA 2*ESPN China*ESPN Hong Kong*ESPN India*ESPN Malaysia...

.

The aforementioned NHL Gamecenter Live on NHL.com is also available for people outside Canada and the United States to watch games online, free from blackout restrictions.

Popularity

The NHL is considered one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, along with Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

, and the National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

. The league is very prominent in Canada, where hockey is the most popular of these four major sports as well as the CFL
Canadian Football League
The Canadian Football League or CFL is a professional sports league located in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football, a form of gridiron football closely related to American football....

. Overall, hockey has the smallest total fan base of the four leagues, the smallest revenue from television, and the least sponsorship.

While the NHL does not hold one of the largest fan bases in North America, it does hold one of the most affluent fan bases. Studies by the Sports Marketing Group conducted from 1998 to 2004 show that the NHL's fan base is much more affluent than that of the PGA Tour
PGA Tour
The PGA Tour is the organizer of the main men's professional golf tours in the United States and North America...

. A study done by the Stanford Graduate School of Business
Stanford Graduate School of Business
The Stanford Graduate School of Business is one of the professional schools of Stanford University, in Stanford, California and is broadly regarded as one of the best business schools in the world.The Stanford GSB offers a general management Master of Business Administration degree, the Sloan...

 in 2004, found that NHL fans in America were the most educated and affluent of the four major leagues. They were also found to be substantially more computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 literate than the other fans. Further it noted that season-ticket sales were more prominent in the NHL than the other three because of the ability of the NHL fan to purchase them, something more out of reach for fans of the other leagues. According to Reuters
Reuters
Reuters is a news agency headquartered in New York City. Until 2008 the Reuters news agency formed part of a British independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data...

 in 2010, the largest demographic of NHL fans was highly sought after group males aged 18–34, who were also shown to be more "tech savvy" than most fans.

The NHL estimates that fully half of its fan base roots for teams in outside markets. Beginning in 2008, under the direction of Chief Operating Officer
Chief operating officer
A Chief Operating Officer or Director of Operations can be one of the highest-ranking executives in an organization and comprises part of the "C-Suite"...

 John Collins, the NHL began a shift toward using digital technology to market to fans to capitalize on this.

This has boosted viewership metrics for the NHL. The 2010 Stanley Cup
Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup is an ice hockey club trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoffs champion after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals. It has been referred to as The Cup, Lord Stanley's Cup, The Holy Grail, or facetiously as Lord Stanley's Mug...

 play-offs saw the largest audience in the history of the sport "after a regular season that saw record-breaking business success, propelled in large part by the NHL's strategy of engaging fans through big events and robust digital offerings." This success has resulted in a 66 percent rise in NHL advertising and sponsorship revenue. Collins said "It was a great Stanley Cup run, really across every possible metric .... Our fans are consuming more hockey." Merchandise sales were up 22 percent and the number of unique visitors on the NHL.com website were up 17 percent during the playoffs after rising 29 percent in the regular season.

Causes

The NHL advocates for a number of causes throughout the season. During the days leading up to Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth...

 (November 11, known as Veterans Day
Veterans Day
Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark...

 in the United States), in respect of the day, coaches and other NHL officials wear red poppy lapel pins. Hockey Fights Cancer
Hockey Fights Cancer
Hockey Fights Cancer is a charitable initiative of the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association dedicated to raising money and awareness toward cancer research...

 is a joint initiative founded in December 1998 by the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association to raise money and awareness for hockey's most important fight. It is supported by NHL Member Clubs, NHL Alumni, the NHL Officials' Association, Professional Hockey Trainers and Equipment Managers, corporate marketing partners, broadcast partners and fans.

See also

  • Heritage Classic
    Heritage Classic
    The Heritage Classic was an outdoor ice hockey game played on November 22, 2003, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, between the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens. It was the first National Hockey League game to be played outdoors as a part of regular season play...

  • List of defunct NHL teams
  • List of NHL records (individual)
  • History of the National Hockey League
    History of the National Hockey League
    The history of the National Hockey League begins with the end of its predecessor league, the National Hockey Association , in 1917. After unsuccessfully resolving disputes with Eddie Livingstone, owner of the Toronto Blueshirts, executives of the three other NHA franchises suspended the NHA, and...

  • List of NHL records (team)
  • List of professional sports teams in the United States and Canada
  • List of TV markets and major sports teams
  • List of American and Canadian cities by number of major professional sports franchises
  • Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada
  • NHL Winter Classic
    NHL Winter Classic
    The NHL Winter Classic is an annual event held by the National Hockey League on New Year's Day where regular-season games are played outdoors, in areas hosted by NHL teams. Though largely derived from the Heritage Classic outdoor game held in Edmonton in 2003, the Winter Classic has so far only...

  • Professional Hockey Writers Association
    Professional Hockey Writers' Association
    The Professional Hockey Writers' Association is a North American professional association for ice hockey journalists writing for newspapers, magazines and websites...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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