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32 clubs, 25 from the United States and 7 from Canada, make up the National Hockey League, a professional ice hockey league in North America. It is one of the four main professional sports leagues in the US and Canada.

After the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the English Premier League (EPL), the National Hockey League (NHL) is the fifth most lucrative professional sports league in the world.

History of NHL

Prior to NHL, Ambrose O'Brien created the National Hockey Association (NHA) in 1909. The NHA was one of the first major ice hockey professional leagues. Matches began in 1910 with seven teams across Ontario and Quebec. As the "rover" position was eliminated, O'Brien also instituted the ongoing "six players rule."

Despite the NHA's decline over its first eight seasons, the owners of the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, and Quebec Bulldogs met to consider the league's future after a series of disagreements with Toronto Blueshirts owner, Eddie Livingstone. The four teams decided to suspend the NHA after realizing they couldn't remove Livingstone according to the association's bylaws.

The NHL was founded in 1917 as a result of the NHA's suspension. The Montreal Wanderers and Toronto Arenas squared off in the first NHL game. The game was held in Montreal, Canada's Westmount Arena.  With a score of 10-9, the Wanderers thrashed the Arenas.  The Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators played another game on the same day in Ottawa's Dey's Arena. The Canadiens defeated the Senators 7-4 to secure their victory.

Rules and Regulations of NHL

At the start of a game, when the puck is dropped by an official, the two teams square off. An NHL game typically has 11 players: six skaters on the ice and five substitutes on the bench. No matter what happens, the goaltender will never leave his net. NHL games consist of three periods, each lasting over 20 minutes. In the playoffs, the time between periods becomes longer as teams wait for the first goal.

Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup is the ultimate prize in the National Hockey League playoffs. It's also the game's longest-standing prize. The Governor General of Canada, Lord Stanley of Preston, inspired the trophy's moniker. He gave the trophy to the highest-scoring team in the game in 1893, so it is fitting that he be honored in this way. Montreal Hockey Club was the first team to hoist the trophy. In 1915, the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) made a pact to continue their yearly tradition of presenting the Stanley Cup.

The NHL and trustee J. Cooper Smeaton came to an arrangement in 1947 that gave the NHL exclusive rights to the Stanley Cup, enabling it to turn down invitations from other leagues. There is also a long-standing custom of putting the names of NHL stars on the Stanley Cup.

Currently, to qualify for automatic engraving, a player:

  1. Must have played, or have dressed as the backup goaltender, for at least half of the championship team's regular season games. OR:

  2. Must have played, or have dressed as the backup goaltender, for at least one game of the Stanley Cup Finals for the championship team, AND:

  3. Must be on the roster when the team wins the Stanley Cup.

During the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, the series was held between the Eastern Conference's Tampa Bay Lightning and the Western Conference's Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche won the best of the seven series, 4-2. This ended Tampa Bay's Stanley Cup winning streak, making the Avalanche a three-time Stanley Cup winner.

Distribution of teams in the NHL

The league is further subdivided into four divisions based on the two conferences it falls under.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division -

  • Boston Bruins

  • Buffalo Sabres

  • Detroit Red Wings

  • Florida Panthers

  • Montreal Canadiens

  • Ottawa Senators

  • Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division -

  • Carolina Hurricanes

  • Columbus Blue Jackets

  • New Jersey Devils

  • New York Islanders

  • New York Rangers

  • Philadelphia Flyers

  • Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Washington Capitals

Western Conference

Central Division -

  • Arizona Coyotes

  • Chicago Blackhawks

  • Colorado Avalanche

  • Dallas Stars

  • Minnesota Wild

  • Nashville Predators

  • St. Louis Blues

  • Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division -

  • Anaheim Ducks

  • Calgary Flames

  • Edmonton Oilers

  • Los Angeles Kings

  • San Jose Sharks

  • Seattle Kraken

  • Vancouver Canucks

  • Vegas Golden Knights

Legends of NHL

More than a century has passed since the sport's inception, so it has plenty of credibility. Many legends of ice hockey have played their way into the records of the game and the hearts of fans thanks to their blazing performances.

Gordie Howe

In 1946, Gordie Howe made his National Hockey League debut with the Detroit Red Wings. In 1980, the right winger retired after 32 years in the NHL. He had previously skated in games with his kids Marty and Mark. During his 25 years with the Detroit Red Wings, "Mr. Hockey" won four Stanley Cups and was named league MVP six times. In honor of his accomplishments, the "Gordie Howe Hat Trick," in which a player scores a goal, provides an assist, and gets into a brawl all in the same game, was named after him. His 22, 20-goal seasons in a row, are still an NHL record. He has also played in 1,767 games; more than anybody else.

Wayne Gretzky

There has never been a better scorer than The Great One. Wayne Gretzky's supremacy may be understood with just one simple fact: Over the course of his 21 years, he racked up 1,963 assists. No player in history has scored and assisted on more goals than him, and his total now includes 894 goals. Gretzky won the Stanley Cup four times and was named in the All-Star team 18 times. He also won 10 Art Ross Trophies and 9 Hart Awards. He set multiple career records in the regular season and the playoffs, including points, goals, and assists.

Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr, who famously leaped in the air to celebrate winning the 1970 Stanley Cup, was the first offensive defender in NHL history. He made history in 1969–70 by scoring the most points by a defender in a single season (120). The next year, Orr placed second with a career-high 139 points, and then he won the title again with 135 points in 1974–1975. Orr's career was cut short by injuries, but he still managed to set records at his position by scoring 270 goals and adding 645 assists for 915 points in only 657 games. Eight consecutive Norris Trophies were also a part of his fantastic career.