The National Hockey League (NHL) is the premier professional ice hockey league in the world. It was established in Montreal, Quebec, in 1917 and currently consists of 31 franchises, with 7 in Canada and 24 in the United States. The NHL has a long and storied history, and it is widely recognized as the world’s premier hockey league.
For hockey fans in Canada, the NHL is an important part of their lives. The league is home to some of the most talented players in the world, and it provides fans with countless hours of entertainment throughout the year. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual observer, there is always something exciting happening in the NHL.
History of the NHL in Canada
Founding of the NHL
The National Hockey League (NHL) was founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1917. The league started off with four teams, all from Canada: the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, and Toronto Arenas. The NHL was established after the National Hockey Association (NHA) dissolved due to internal disputes. The NHL took over the NHA’s contracts and players and continued to expand over the years.
In the early years of the NHL, the league was dominated by Canadian teams. The Toronto Maple Leafs, formerly the Toronto Arenas, won the first Stanley Cup under the NHL in 1918. From 1927 to 1938, the Montreal Canadiens won five Stanley Cups, and the Toronto Maple Leafs won three. The NHL also expanded during this time, adding teams from the United States.
Expansion and Modern Era
In 1967, the NHL expanded from six to twelve teams, adding teams from the United States. This expansion marked the beginning of the modern era of the NHL. The league continued to expand over the years, adding teams from both Canada and the United States. Today, the NHL has 31 teams, with seven based in Canada and 24 in the United States. The NHL has faced numerous challenges over the years, including labor disputes and financial struggles. However, the league remains a beloved institution in Canada and around the world. The NHL has produced some of the greatest players in hockey history, including Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, and Gordie Howe. Overall, the history of the NHL in Canada is a rich and storied one. From its humble beginnings with four Canadian teams to the modern era with 31 teams across North America, the NHL has become a symbol of Canadian culture and identity.
Teams in the NHL Canada
The Montreal Canadiens are one of the original six teams of the NHL and have been playing since 1909. They have won the Stanley Cup 24 times, the most of any team in the NHL. The Canadiens have a strong rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and their games are always highly anticipated. The team has retired 15 numbers, including legends like Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, and Guy Lafleur.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are also an original six team established in 1917. The team has won 13 Stanley Cups, with their last win coming in 1967. The Maple Leafs have a large and devoted fan base, and their games are always sold out. The team has retired 19 numbers, including legends like Dave Keon, Tim Horton, and Darryl Sittler.
The Ottawa Senators were established in 1992 and have had a relatively short history compared to other Canadian NHL teams. The team has made it to the Stanley Cup Finals once, in 2007, but lost to the Anaheim Ducks. The Senators have retired only one number, that of Frank Finnigan, who played for the team in the 1920s and 1930s.
The Winnipeg Jets were established in 2011 after the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg. The team has yet to win a Stanley Cup, but they have a young and talented roster that shows promise for the future. The Jets have retired only one number, that of Bobby Hull, who played for the original Winnipeg Jets in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Edmonton Oilers were established in 1972 and have won five Stanley Cups, all in the 1980s, with a team that included legends like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri. The team has a strong fan base and a new arena, Rogers Place, that opened in 2016. The Oilers have retired nine numbers, including those of Gretzky, Messier, and Kurri.
The Calgary Flames were established in 1972 as the Atlanta Flames and relocated to Calgary in 1980. The team won one Stanley Cup, in 1989, with a team that included legends like Lanny McDonald, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Al MacInnis. The Flames have retired four numbers, including those of McDonald and MacInnis.
The Vancouver Canucks were established in 1970 and have yet to win a Stanley Cup, despite making it to the Finals three times, in 1982, 1994, and 2011. The team has a devoted fan base and a strong roster that includes stars like Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. The Canucks have retired three numbers, including those of Stan Smyl and Trevor Linden.
NHL Seasons and Playoffs
The National Hockey League (NHL) regular season typically runs from October to April, with each team playing 82 games. The league is divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, with each conference having two divisions. The Eastern Conference consists of the Atlantic Division and the Metropolitan Division, while the Western Conference consists of the Central Division and the Pacific Division.
During the regular season, teams compete for points in the standings. A win earns two points, an overtime or shootout loss earns one point, and a regulation loss earns zero points. The top three teams in each division qualify for the playoffs, along with two wild card teams from each conference.
Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in April and consist of four rounds of best-of-seven series. The winner of each series advances to the next round, with the final round being the Stanley Cup Final. The team that wins the Stanley Cup is considered the champion of the NHL for that season.
The playoffs are seeded based on regular season points, with the top seed in each conference facing the wild card team with the fewest points, and the second and third seeds in each division facing each other. The winners of each divisional series then face each other in the conference finals, with the winner of each conference advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.
The NHL All-Star Game is an annual exhibition game held during the regular season. The game features the best players from each conference, as voted on by fans, players, and media. The format of the game has changed over the years, with the current format being a three-on-three tournament between four teams representing each division.
Overall, the NHL season and playoffs offer fans an exciting and competitive display of hockey, with the Stanley Cup being the ultimate prize for teams to strive towards.
NHL Players from Canada
Gordie Howe, also known as “Mr. Hockey,” is considered one of the greatest NHL players of all time. He played for the Detroit Red Wings and the Hartford Whalers and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972. Howe won the Hart Trophy six times and the Art Ross Trophy six times. He was also named to the NHL First All-Star Team 12 times.
Wayne Gretzky, known as “The Great One,” is widely considered the greatest NHL player of all time. He played for the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, and New York Rangers. Gretzky won the Hart Trophy nine times and the Art Ross Trophy ten times. He was also named to the NHL First All-Star Team ten times.
Mario Lemieux, also known as “Super Mario,” is another NHL player from Canada who is considered one of the greatest of all time. He played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and won two Stanley Cups. Lemieux won the Hart Trophy three times and the Art Ross Trophy six times. He was also named to the NHL First All-Star Team six times.
Bobby Orr is considered one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history. He played for the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. Orr won the Norris Trophy eight times and the Art Ross Trophy twice. He was also named to the NHL First All-Star Team eight times.
Maurice Richard, also known as “The Rocket,” played for the Montreal Canadiens. He was the first NHL player to score 50 goals in a season and the first to score 500 goals in his career. Richard won the Hart Trophy once and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team eight times. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961.
Canada has produced many great NHL players over the years, and these five are just a few of the most notable. Their contributions to the sport have helped shape the NHL into what it is today.
NHL Rules and Regulations
Offside and Icing
The NHL has strict rules on offside and icing to ensure fair play. Offside occurs when a player enters the offensive zone before the puck, and the linesman will blow the whistle to stop play. Icing occurs when a player shoots the puck from behind the center line to the opponent’s end, and the puck crosses the goal line without being touched by another player. In both cases, play is stopped, and a faceoff occurs in the offending team’s zone.
Penalties and Suspensions
The NHL has a comprehensive set of rules regarding penalties and suspensions. Players can receive penalties for a variety of reasons, such as high-sticking, tripping, or slashing. Penalties can range from two minutes to five minutes, depending on the severity of the infraction. Players who receive five-minute penalties are removed from the game and cannot be replaced on the ice until the penalty expires. Suspensions are given for more severe infractions, such as fighting or intentional injury, and can result in a player being removed from multiple games.
If a game is tied after regulation and overtime, a shootout occurs to determine the winner. Each team selects three players to take shots against the opposing team’s goalie. If the score remains tied after the first three shots, the shootout continues until one team scores and the other does not. Goalies may not leave the crease until the shooter has touched the puck, and players may not take a second shot until all players on both teams have taken one. Overall, the NHL’s rules and regulations ensure fair play and safety for all players. While some infractions may result in penalties or suspensions, the league’s commitment to enforcing these rules helps maintain the integrity of the game.
NHL Awards and Trophies
The National Hockey League (NHL) presents numerous annual awards and trophies to recognize its teams and players. These awards celebrate the achievements of the best players, coaches, and teams in the league. Here are some of the most prestigious NHL awards and trophies:
Hart Memorial Trophy
The Hart Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team during the regular season. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season. The trophy was first awarded in 1924.
Art Ross Trophy
The Art Ross Trophy is awarded to the player who leads the league in regular-season points at the end of the season. The trophy was donated by Arthur Howie Ross, former general manager of the Boston Bruins, and was first awarded in 1948.
The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL’s top goaltender. The winner is selected in a poll of the league’s general managers at the end of the regular season. The trophy was first awarded in 1927 and was named in honor of Georges Vezina, a former goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens who died of tuberculosis in 1926.
Calder Memorial Trophy
The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL’s top rookie player. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season. The trophy was first awarded in 1933 and was named in honor of Frank Calder, the first president of the NHL.
Other notable NHL awards and trophies include the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy, the Norris Trophy, and the Lady Byng Trophy. These awards recognize excellence in team play, individual performance, and sportsmanship.