The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league composed of 30 teams, of which 27 are based in the United States and three in Canada. The NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada.
NHL teams are divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each conference is further split into three divisions:
The NHL traces its origins back to 1909 when the National Hockey Association (NHA) was founded. The NHA began operation in 1910 and was the first fully professional ice hockey league. In 1917, the NHA was disbanded and replaced by the National Hockey League.
First NHL teams
The NHL’s first expansion took place in 1967 when six new teams were added to the league, doubling its size. The most recent expansion took place in 2017 when the league added a 31st team, the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Original Six is the term used for the six teams that made up the NHL from 1942 until 1967. These teams are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Today, the NHL is composed of 30 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The league is divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, each of which is made up of 15 teams.
NHL teams are also divided into divisions. The Eastern Conference has two divisions: the Atlantic Division and the Metropolitan Division. The Western Conference has three divisions: the Central Division, the Pacific Division, and the newly created Pacific Division.
The NHL has undergone several rounds of expansion, adding new teams to the league on a regular basis. The most recent expansion took place in 2017, when the league added the Vegas Golden Knights as its 31st team.
The NHL is currently planning to expand again to 32 teams, with a new team in Seattle to begin play in 2021. NHL teams are also periodically relocated to new cities. The most recent relocation was in 2011, when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets.
NHL teams are also periodically relocated to new cities. The most recent relocation was in 2011, when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets.
NHL teams are also frequently renamed, with the most recent example being the Arizona Coyotes, who were formerly the Phoenix Coyotes.
The NHL is also home to a number of “charter” teams, which are teams that have been in the league since its inception. The Original Six teams are all charter teams, as are the Winnipeg Jets, who joined the league in 1979 as the Atlanta Flames.
In 1979, the NHL merged with the World Hockey Association (WHA), bringing four WHA teams into the league. These teams are the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets.
The most recent merger took place in 1998, when the NHL absorbed the former International Hockey League (IHL). As part of the merger, four IHL teams joined the NHL: the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers.
Key dates in NHL history
1910: The NHA is founded.
1917: The NHA is disbanded and replaced by the NHL.
1942: The Original Six era begins.
1967: The NHL expands for the first time, adding six new teams.
1979: The NHL merges with the WHA, adding four new teams.
1998: The NHL absorbs the IHL, adding four new teams.
2017: The NHL expands for the 31st time, adding the Vegas Golden Knights.
2021: The NHL is scheduled to expand for the 32nd time, adding a team in Seattle.
The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league that was founded in 1917. The league has undergone several rounds of expansion, and currently consists of 30 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada.