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Useful Notes / National Hockey League

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The National Hockey League is the top professional Ice Hockey league in North America. Founded in 1917, it is currently composed of 31 teams: 24 in The United States and seven in Canada, with the Vegas Golden Knights as the league's newest team. The Seattle Kraken will become the league's 32nd team in 2021. The Stanley Cup represents the league's championship, and is the oldest such trophy in North America; traditionally, each member of the championship team gets possession of Lord Stanley's Bowl for a day, and due to this has had some odd misadventures in its time.

It is a member of the “Big Four” American and Canadian sports leagues along with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association. However, especially in the Deep South, the NHL is often the butt of My Friends... and Zoidberg jokes in regards to this group (In which they are referred to as "The Big Three Sports … and Hockey."), due to among other things, the sport’s difficulty in appealing to the "Sun Belt" region considering that there is little to no snow in those areas and hockey is obviously most popular in places where it snows in the winter. That being said, the league makes up for it by being extremely successful in the northern states and especially in Canada.note 


Each year since 2008, the league has hosted the Winter Classic on New Year's Daynote  which features two major rival teams in an outdoor game, usually at either an NFL or MLB stadium. The 2014 game (rescheduled from 2013 which was cancelled due to the league lockout) was held at the University of Michigan—significant because that institution just happens to have the largest non-motorsports stadium in the US. Beginning in 2010 (for the 2011 Classic), HBO began running NHL 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic which followed the two teams involved throughout the month of December leading up to the event.

In "the beginning",note  there were the "Original Six", the six teams that formed the NHL from the folding of the New York Americans in 1942 until the league's expansion in 1967.


"I watch it for the fights!"

As noted on the main Ice Hockey page, The NHL is notable for being one of the only sports leagues where fighting (referred to in the league's official rule book as "fisticuffs") is considered part of the game and players are not automatically suspended for it. Among NHL players, fighting is mostly an honorable affair, and breaking "The Code" is a serious no-no, usually resulting in one of the other team's enforcers marking you for the rest of the evening and most games after, as well as painting a target on your back for the rest of the league.

To be succinct, fight with your fists, no sucker punches, and only fight if you are already on the ice when it starts. Breaking any of these rules gets you ejected for a game misconduct. In addition, if you participate in a fight, you receive an automatic five-minute major penalty (you sit out for five minutes but are replaced in the lineup. But get three of them and you're ejected), and if you started it, you get an additional two minutes for instigation (get two of those and you're ejected as well). Most times, to circumvent the instigation rule, players will try to drop their gloves at the same time, though if they're just that pissed, they won't care.

When a fight is going on, play stops completely. The refs only intervene when either nothing is happening, a player is getting utterly shit-stomped, or both players fall to the ice. If someone else tries to come in and double-team, the refs will put a stop to it immediately. Almost always, the fight will cause the crowd to get into it, even if the home team is down by several goals, and is an effective way at livening up an otherwise-dull affair.

Generally speaking, mano a mano fights aren't as common as one would think. While often sheer animosity can lead to two players dropping their gloves, most fights are usually done strategically, either as retaliation for a big or unnecessarily-brutal hit or by enforcers to give the crowd something to cheer for and get the players mentally reinvigorated on adrenaline. Considering that players often toe the line with what they can do without getting penalized (including slashes, water bottle squirts, and Your Mom! jokes), it takes something special to elicit this reaction from the players, but if taken too far, it results in a line brawl.

Line brawls are very rare, and almost always stem from rivalries or anger. Almost always, all five skaters on each side throw down, and sometimes even the two goalies will go at it. All players participating get five-minute majors, only the one who sparked the conflict gets the instigator penalty, and everyone has to skate on over to the penalty box to wait out the five minutes rather than just running off five minutes from the clock.

The Teams

Current League Format: The league is currently divided into two conferences (Eastern and Western), each with two divisions (Atlantic and Metropolitan for the East; Central and Pacific Divisions for the West). The conferences used to be named the Prince of Wales Conference and the Clarence Campbell Conference (respectively), and the divisions used to be called the Adams, Patrick, Norris, and Smythe before 1993. At the start of the 1993–94 season, Commissioner Gary Bettman realigned and renamed the conferences and divisions (Eastern and Western Conference; Atlantic, Northeast and Southeast division for East, Pacific, Northwest and Central for West). Another realignment, which took place prior to the start of the 2013–14 season, became necessary after the Atlanta Thrashers, who were in the Southeast Division, moved to Winnipeg, screwing up the alignment of the Eastern Conference. From 1981 to 2013, the Campbell/Western Conference had four different members at times located in the Eastern Time Zone, limiting the amount of road games these teams could play in their own time zone. The first of these teams to move to the Eastern Conference was the Tampa Bay Lightning, who spent only one year in the Campbell Conference, their inaugural season, before moving east in 1993. The Toronto Maple Leafs moved from the West to the East (and into the same division as their provincial rivals, the Ottawa Senators) in 1998, and finally, the Columbus Blue Jackets (established in 2000) and Detroit Red Wings moved east in 2013, moves that were made possible by the relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg (but in the process, went from being division rivals to playing in separate divisions - Columbus in the Metropolitan and Detroit in the Atlantic, which also contained the Maple Leafs and Lightning). In all of these instances, the moves from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference were very much welcomed by the teams and their fans, as the teams now played far more road games in the Eastern Time Zone.

For the 2020-21 season, the league temporarily realigned into 4 divisions (East, Central, West, and North) due to cross-border travel restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. The regular season is reduced to 56 games, and the teams' schedules are relegated to their own division in the regular seasonnote  and the first two rounds of the playoffs, with interdivision play only occurring in the Stanley Cup semifinals and finals. The 7 Canadian teamsnote  were placed in the North Division while the 24 American teams were equally divided among the remaining threenote .

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    Eastern Conference 
  • Atlantic Division - this division contains four of the six members of the "Original Six", thus, division rivalries involving these teams are among the most historic NHL rivalries.
    • Boston Bruins: First NHL team south of the border. Famous former players include Bobby Orr, Cam Neely and Ray Bourque. The team throughout its history is known for having very physical, fight heavy games, special mention going to the previously mentioned Neely, and Forward Shawn Thornton for the most penalty minutes of the last two seasons due to fighting. Current captain and defenseman Zdeno Chára is the tallest guy ever to play in the league, standing six feet, nine inches (2.06 meters). Their 39-year Cup drought ended when they won in 2011. Have won more titles than any other American team but Detroit. They REALLY don't like Montreal.
    • Buffalo Sabres: Don't bring up Brett Hull's goal in 1999 to them. Please. Their original uniform design remains the most popular overall, given the backlash against their Goat's Head red and black era, and the Buffaslug. The team of the “French Connection” (a reference to the contemporary movie of the same name), a forward line from the 1970s consisting of three French-Canadians (center Gilbert Perreault, with Rick Martin to his left and Rene Robert on his right). Also the team that had The Dominator — goalie Dominik Hašek — for his most dominant years. Besides him and fellow goalkeeper Ryan Miller, they've mostly lacked star power over the past few years, to the point where they've started to play so badly that advanced stats sites leave them off of charts as they've sort of become statistical outliers. They looked like they were turning a corner corner to start both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, only to collapse down the stretch both years, then approached historic depths in 2021.note 
    • Detroit Red Wings: The team of Steve Yzerman. Consistently good for almost all of the last 30 years—the 2016–17 season was the first since 1990 in which they missed the playoffs—therefore hated outside Detroit. The general dislike is newer than a lot of people think, since the post-expansion revival came after almost twenty years of being somewhat of a league Butt-Monkey and a strenuous rebuilding process. Before then, there just weren't as many teams to pass the Cup around to, but they were the most dominant of the American-based teams. Were notorious for being one of the most expensive teams in the NHL before the salary cap came to be, to the point where many people who hated them claimed they were only successful because they bought a championship caliber team rather than building up young and inexperienced players (much like the New York Yankees). However, the Red Wings remained competitive in the salary cap era, going on to win the Stanley Cup in 2008, proving that there is more to their success than simply throwing a lot of cash around. Fans have a habit of chucking octopodes onto the ice during the playoffs (in the Original Six days a playoff team needed to beat two teams in best-of-seven, thus eight wins, to win the Cup). The feelings between them and Chicago are mutual, but Detroit fans tend to have more creative chants. The Wings opened the league's newest arena, Little Caesars Arena, for the 2017–18 season.note  Were on pace to make history as the worst team in the NHL, due to having an over -100 goal differential (goal differential essentially being a better measuring stick for team performance than points or record) before the 2019-2020 season was delayed indefinitely.
    • Florida Panthers: Started fast for an expansion team: they came very close to making the playoffs in their first season and made it to the Finals in their third. After that, there hasn't been much for them; their berth in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs is their first in over a decade. Not to mention that 2012 was their first year in winning a divisional championship. Their most notable contribution came during their Cinderella Finals run in 1996, when fans would litter the arena with plastic rats, causing extensive delays in games (due to one of their players killing a rat with his stick in the locker room … yeah, fans are weird). And 1996 was the only time the Panthers advanced in the playoffs, crashing in Round 1 in the sparse five appearances in twenty years that followed. Named after an endangered cougar. Their arena also has a multiple personality disorder, having gone through five different names in fifteen years.note 
    • Montreal Canadiens: AKA the Habs.note  Older than the NHL; their history begins in the NHL's predecessor league, the National Hockey Association. They're the world's oldest continuously operating professional hockey team. Has won 24 championships, a feat surpassed only by the New York Yankees. Also the last Canadian team to win the Cup (1993). Goaltender Jacques Plante made the goalie mask regular gear after stopping an Andy Bathgate slapshot with his nose in 1959. Pretty much the team of French Canada with the departure of the Quebec Nordiques to Colorado in 1995. Their long, storied history includes some legendary French-Canadian players: Maurice ‘Le Rocket’ Richard, Jean Béliveau, Guy Lafleur and Patrick Roy. They hate Toronto with a passion, they surely don't like Boston, and they really don't like Zdeno Chára.
    • Ottawa Senators: Not related to the old Ottawa Senators (1883–1934) who won the Cup 11 times. Their first two seasons were absolute disasters (their 1992–93 season saw them win only 10 games of 84), but they slowly grew into perennial playoff contenders for most of the 2000's.note . They've fallen off again in the New '10s, and after a surprise conference finals run in 2017, came completely unraveled in the space of a year, with massive regression, numerous trades of both star players and high draft picks for magic beansnote , and threats by ownership to move the team. Despite being in the capital of the most hockey-crazed country, a slightly remote arena sometimes makes fans weary of attending games - not it stops Montreal and Toronto (the latter from the same province as Ottawa) from filling up the place, something the ownership eventually got tired of. Once got into a massive brawl with the Buffalo Sabres with 100 penalty minutes and goalies going at each other. Also, former star player Dany Heatley is disliked by fans.
    • Tampa Bay Lightning: Current Stanley Cup champions. Southernmost team to win the Cup, having won in 2004 (albeit somewhat contentiously; the "phantom goal" that would have cost Tampa the Cup is arguably the most controversial call other than Brett Hull's "foot in the crease" in 1999) and 2020. They were the first attempt to market hockey in a former Confederate state since the Atlanta Flames (who moved to Calgary), and help start a wave of expansion teams and team relocations during The '90s when they showed a steady fanbase. They set single-game attendance records for a few years due to playing in a then-vacated domed baseball stadium (now Tropicana Field and home to the Rays), which was larger than any hockey arena but also made it hard to keep the ice solid. They've had stretches of good play in the past decade, including a second Stanley Cup final in 2015. They also won the Presidents Trophy in 2019 while tying the 1995-96 Red Wings for the most dominant regular season in NHL history (62 wins!)... only to end up becoming the first ever Presidents Trophy winners in NHL history to be swept in the first round after losing their series to the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, they came back with a vengeance in the following year, winning their second cup after the playoffs were delayed till August due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Set a new standard for stadium Rule of Cool in 2011 when renovations to the St. Pete Times Forum (now Amalie Arena) included the installation of Tesla coils in the rafters that shoot real lightning during the pregame intro and after goals. Oh, and despite those aforementioned Florida Panthers (who play in a suburb of Miami), the Bolts predate them by one year.
    • Toronto Maple Leafs: Known for bad declension,note  being hated by the rest of Canada (especially among Montreal fans), being the most valuable franchise in the league, and not having won the Cup since 1967 (the longest active drought in the NHL), or before 2013, a drought of seven seasons not even qualifying for the playoffs, Their rivalry with the Canadiens is the oldest in the league. They hate their provincial rivals, the Ottawa Senators, a lot and have kicked them out of the playoffs on multiple occasions. The Toronto Maple Leafs are far and away the most profitable and popular team in the sport, with season tickets to Scotiabank Arena (their home rink) unavailable for a minimum of ten years, and home games rarely not sold out. Their immense profitability and popularity has ensured that, despite their losing streak (going on fifty years), they are not in any danger of closing shop any time soon. With big names like Brendan Shanahan, Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello joining the front office staff over recent years, leading to a heavy influx of young talent on the ice that culminated in the 2016 1st overall selection of Auston Matthews and the 2018 offseason acquisition of former Islanders centerpiece John Tavares, there's finally some hope in "Leafs Nation" and early predictions are that they could make a serious run for the Cup for the first time in decades. They also quite infamously lost against a 42 year-old Zamboni driver who works for them. Even worse after said game when Toronto lost to their Zamboni driver, they tried to change the Emergency Backup Goaltender (commonly shortened to EBUG) rule to make it so the visiting team had to bring one of their own instead of relying on the host team to provide one only for the proposal to be unanimously dropped by the NHL Board of Governors due to both the logistics of having a third Goalie who might not ever play taking up much needed Cap space, and the fact that the EBUG rule is so rarely needed that it would make a full time NHL third string Goalie a waste of time, when they could be in the minors perfecting their game
  • Metropolitan Division - the only division normally based entirely in the United States, it is basically an expanded Patrick Division, as six of its eight members made up that division from 1982 to 1993
    • Carolina Hurricanes: Formerly the Hartford Whalers, and formerly of the WHA; moved in 1997 because they were getting squeezed financially by the Original Six Bruins and Rangers (and to an lesser extent, the Islanders and Devils) and they were playing in a tiny arena that was literally part of a shopping mall complex. First couple of years in North Carolina didn't go so well either on or off the ice (half-empty arenas are a persistent problem for NHL teams in the South, especially if the team is less than awesome). A Cup run in 2002 and a Cup victory in 2006 turned things around for a while, though (Raleigh hosted a successful All-Star Game in 2011, which speaks to the fanbase support the team has cultivated), and they had usually been in contention with Washington for the Southeast Division titles. A lack of sustained success saw them sink back to the bottom of the league in attendance numbers, but things seem to be looking up for them after they snapped a 10-year streak of not qualifying for the playoffs in the 2018/19 season. Are an extreme case of "feast or famine": the Canes have only qualified for the playoffs six times, but have made it to at least the third round in their last four appearances!
    • Columbus Blue Jackets: The second NHL team in Ohio (the Cleveland Baronsnote  played from 1976 to 1978). Has a cannon in their home arena that fires after every Jackets goal and victory on home ice, honoring the state of Ohio's contributions to the Union (hence the name) - fans love it, while players and commentators from other teams typically do not. As a result of inept management and coaching, they were the undisputed Butt Monkeys of the league for most of their early existence, perennially finishing near the bottom of the standings. However, the team's fortunes finally turned in the early 2010s with the replacement of both its general manager and head coach. Since then, they've more or less become the league's designated underdogs, showing flashes of brilliance here and there (the most recent and perhaps triumphant example being when they swept the historically successful Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2019 playoffs, outscoring them 19-8 in the process) but never quite being able to convert them into long-term success. With a notorious inability to retain top-grade talent (the 2019 offseason saw three of their best players leave the team all at once, with one of them infamously taking a pay cut to do so), only time will tell if they'll ever be able to shake that reputation and become true contenders.
    • New Jersey Devils: Formerly the Kansas City Scouts AND the Colorado Rockies. They are a tale of three eras: the Expansion Era, the Lamoriello Era, and the Shero Era. During of their Expansion Era, they spent two years in Kansas City as the Scouts from 1974 to 1976. They relocated to Colorado as the Rockies where they made the playoffs once and ended up relocating again in 1982 to New Jersey where they continued to be the league's undisputed Butt-Monkey.note  Then, in 1988, in the first year of the Lou Lamoriello Era, they Took a Level in Badass and began a 24-year streak where they won three championships and only missed the playoffs three times; however, after losing the Cup in 2012, they have missed the playoffs the next five years. A new GM was brought in during that time and the Ray Shero Era began with savvy trades, strong free agency and their first ever No. 1 Draft pick in 2017. In 2018, the Devils returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The team of Martin Brodeur, who is always in the discussion of best goalie ever and currently holds numerous career records. During the Lamoriello Era, they traditionally won with defense and came up with the neutral-zone trapnote  that led to low-scoring games all across the league in the years before the lockout. Now under the Shero Era, the Devils rebranded themselves as a speed-first, high-scoring team that caught the league by storm. Does not like the Rangers,note  even the front office: until the Rangers traded Michael Grabner to the Devils for Yegor Rykov and a second round draft pick in February 2018, New Jersey had made trades with every other team except the Rangers. Though historically they have had trouble selling tickets (except for games against the Rangers and Flyers), this has recently changed due to the coming of age of their fans that grew up watching them win three Cups as children. Recognized in hockey circles as a heavily strict and heavily disciplined franchise, with a team-first mentality. Oh, and they're named after a cryptid called The Jersey Devil that supposedly haunts the Pine Barrens region. Hockey fans in New Jersey are typically torn between being loyal to either the Devils, Rangers or the Flyers (older fans in North Jersey tend to root for the Rangers while South Jersey, closer to Philly than Newark, roots for the Flyers).
    • New York Rangers: AKA the Blueshirts. Name comes from the fact that the first owner was a guy named Tex.note  Most recent year of glory was 1994, when the Curse of 1940 was broken (the longest Cup drought in history at 53 seasons). The Rangers have a fierce rivalry with the Devils, which made Messier's Game 6 hat trick and Matteau's double OT goal in Game 7 of the 1994 Conference Finals that much sweeter. Has a recent history of overpaying for players, though management seems to be trying to change that. The Rangers have, in the last 40 years, tended to buy what superstars they had note , which contributed to a self-sustaining state of note  mediocrity, never being quite good enough ('94 being an aversion) to win the Cup but never quite bad enough to draft high enough to pick up potential franchise players. Post-lockout, have been one of the powerhouse teams of the NHL, making deep playoff runs in all but a few years despite a lack of a true superstar, with the possible exception of Goalie Henrik Lundqvist and, at the start of the run, Jaromír Jágr. Announced a rebuild in close to the 2018 trade deadline and took a page from the New York Yankees book of rebuilding, making smart trades that resulted in them having 5 first round picks in the 2018 and 2019 drafts, one of which they sent back to the original owner for that team's best defenseman. One of those picks even became their highest ever draft pick, #2 overall. The trades also resulted in a large amount of money to spend, which, as usual, they spent on the most expensive free agent on the market. The team no longer plays “Let's Go Band” at home games because every time it's played, diehards will chant "Potvin sucks!"note 
    • New York Islanders: New York's other team. Known as the ‘Fishsticks’ due to their unpopular 1990s jersey where they changed the logo for the 1995–96 season and it was too similar to the fisherman on boxes of Gorton's fishsticks, they have usually been bullied out of the media by the big-time Rangers, and have their radio coverage on the College Radio station of Hofstra University (but with professional broadcasters) due to lack of listener interest or room on the dial because of the Rangers, Knicks, Nets and Devils all staking their claim on the big New York sports stations. Did have a string of four straight championships in the early 1980s. Since then, history and a hatred for the Rangers and John Tavares note  are really all they have going for them. Spent more than two decades without winning a playoff series (1993, when they upset Pittsburgh in the division finals, to 2016, when they faced the equally unlucky Panthers in the first round). Has a reputation for managerial ineptitude: trading away future stars, overpaying on contracts, etc. (outstanding ones being injury-prone goaltender Rick DiPietro to a 15-year contract, which got bought out halfway through;note  and Alexei Yashin, whose buying out in 2007 would be spread out until 2015 … when he retired in Russia in 2012!), not to mention their 1997 franchise sale to a con artist who convinced the NHL he had the money to afford an NHL franchise, only to be found out that he couldn't. Nassau Coliseum, their home from their creation through the 2014–15 season, was by far the crappiest arena in the league, and was the second oldest in the league, after Madison Square Garden, the Rangers' home (which is periodically renovated so as to stay modern); they attempted to build a new arena for years, only to be stopped by Nassau County's massive webs of red tape. They ended up moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015, which became the smallest arena in the league and is infamous for not being hockey-friendly,note  eventually forcing the team to share games between the Barclays and a revamped Coliseum while a new arena is being built. Depending on your definition of "Long Island", their nickname may or may not be an Artifact Title.note 
      • To be fair about the DiPietro contract, it seems to have become more of a harbinger of contracts to come: more double-digit-year contracts for more high-profile players have since been made by teams around the league, and the league voided a 17-year contract between Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils because it evaded the salary cap too blatantly (they later settled on a 15-year one that the league was fine with).
      • As for their arena, they've now announced plans to return to Nassau County at a new arena to be built next to the Belmont Park horse track in Elmont, a community on the border with Queens. The Isles' new digs are tentatively set to open in 2021. In the meantime, starting in 2018–19, the team has moved about half of its home schedule to the now-renovated Nassau Coliseum, even though its new capacity of a tad under 14,000 is the smallest in the league.
    • Philadelphia Flyers: One of the teams created in the 1967 Expansion, and the first of the expansion-era teams to win the Stanley Cup. Historically known as the Broad Street Bullies of the '70s, where they pretty much punched their way to the Cup.note  Has chronically lacked a permanent goaltender in recent years. On the subject of goaltenders: the first ever goalie to score a goal was Flyers' Ron Hextall. The only NHL team to defeat the Soviet Red Army team during their "Super Series '76" string of exhibition games, Ed van Impe's check on Valeri Kharlamov left the latter face-down on the ice for over a minute.note  Their arena has been named after four different banks that ate each other up one after the other. They have particularly notable rivalries with the Rangers, the Devils, and Penguins, the latter of which they hate the most and divides within the state of Pennsylvania. They made waves in late 2018 with the introducing of their new mascot, a burnt-sienna, googly-eyed... thing in a Flyers uniform by the name of Gritty, who quickly won over the city and the internet by just how weird he is.
    • Pittsburgh Penguins: Another of the teams created in the 1967 Expansion. The team of Sidney "Sid the Kid" Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but really, it's "Super Mario" Lemieux's team. He's saved them from bankruptcy at least twice; first as the hot number-one pick in 1984note  that revitalized the team and won two Cups in 1991 and 1992, and then again by buying the team outright, and then coming out of retirement to put butts back in the seats and thereby becoming the first ever player/owner in the NHL. Although they faced potential relocation a few years ago, first to Hamilton, Ontario and then to Kansas City, a new arena deal was struck in 2007, and the new building opened in 2010. Under Crosby and Malkin's leadership, got to two straight finals in 2008 and 2009, winning the latter, and following a long stretch with postseason shortcomings and/or injuries to several of their core players (most infamously the concussion that sidelined Crosby for all but a handful games in 2011), won the Penguins' fourth and fifth Cups back-to-back in 2016 and 2017. One notable thing about the team was their involvement in the action film Sudden Death, featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme in what's essentially Die a hockey game! The most (in)famous scene has JCVD fighting a terrorist in the costume of the team's mascot Iceburgh. Most of the film was shot at the Penguins' then-home ice, the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, including an insane final scene involving a helicopter plummeting through the arena's roof and crashing onto the arena floor. The players themselves made cameos throughout the film, playing against the Blackhawks in the final game of the 1995 Stanley Cup Finalsnote .
    • Washington Capitals: The team of Alexander Ovechkin. Their first season saw them with the worst winning percentage in modern NHL history ('74/'75 record: 8-67-5). For several years they usually had much more regular-season success, but Every Year They Fizzle Out in the first or second round of the playoffs (typically at the hands of the Islanders, Rangers, or Penguins); they then lost even their regular season success, as while Ovechkin remains potent offensively, his support all but crumbled, and without any real defense to back him up, they dropped in the standings until finally missing the playoffs in 2014, but bounced back to finish with the league best record in 2016. The Capitals have appeared in the Stanley Cup Final only twice in its franchise history: the first was in 1998, in which they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings; the next would take place twenty years later in 2018, where they faced and defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the first Finals series since 2007 to feature two teams that had not yet won the Stanley Cup. Their only other conference championship appearance was in 1990, which ended in a sweep by the Bruins.

    Western Conference 
  • Central Division - this division served as the home for the Western Conference's Eastern Time times over the three decades it had them, but now except for Colorado (and starting in 2021-22, Arizona), it is entirely based in the Central Time Zone
    • Arizona Coyotes: Formerly the original Winnipeg Jets and Phoenix Coyotes. After years of being threatened of relocation (helped by a former owner filing the team for bankruptcy in 2009, followed by four years of the Coyotes operated by the NHL itself — hell-bent on keeping them in Arizona, even if Hamilton, Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City, and even Saskatoon were offering to get the team; True North Sports and Entertainment had planned to bring the original Jets franchise home to Winnipeg before being persuaded by the league into buying the now-former Thrashers) finally got a new owner in 2013. Surprised everybody in 2009–10 as one of the best teams in the league, finishing second in their division with 50 wins. They'd then do it again two years later by winning their first ever divisional championship … for both sides of the franchise! That 2011-12 squad also made the first Conference Finals run for either side, only to get drummed out in five games by the Kings and return to perennial basement-dweller status in the years since (except for a very narrow miss with a wild card in 2018-19). As of 2018, they're slated to move to the Central Division upon the activation of the Seattle Kraken in 2021. Rumors of relocation have also re-intensified due to both the impending division switch and the current ownership's insistence on signing one-year deals with their current arena; Houston is considered to be the leading candidate as there are interested local parties and a possible arena solution already in place.note 
    • Chicago Blackhawks: Only Original Six team left in the West. A team with both history (Tony Esposito, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull) and rising stars (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews). Known for the longest time of having an incredibly stingy owner who would place the bottom line over winning the Stanley Cup. Interestingly, as soon as said owner died (to boos from the fans when asked for a moment of silence), his son took over and changed things. One of those things was finally allowing home games to be broadcast on Chicago TV. That has pushed CSN Chicago and WGN to their highest ratings ever. Even NBC and Versus have enjoyed some of the highest ratings they've had for playoff games. Everyone was very happy and the team suddenly played very well, ending a 49-year Cup drought in 2010 and following it up with another two Cup wins in 2013 and 2015. The Blackhawks are known for having a very rowdy fanbase, being loud enough to hear WAY outside the Chicago Stadium/United Center, and being raucous enough to earn the United Center the nickname "The Madhouse on Madison". They really hate Detroit and for that matter they really dislike Vancouver also. Neither do they care for St. Louis. And they also have a negative reaction to both Dallas and Minnesota because of the North Stars in the '80s. That being said, many a Blackhawk fan does have a favorable opinion of the Colorado Avalanche because of what is seen as a shared hatred of Detroit.
    • Colorado Avalanche: Formerly the Quebec Nordiques, which joined the NHL in the 1979 WHA merger. This is the league's second venture in Denver (the Rockies became the New Jersey Devils in 1982). Had a strong rivalry with the Red Wings in the '90s when both were good. The Avs won two Stanley Cups, in 1996 (in their first season in the new city!) and 2001. The team of Joe Sakic. When the Avs won their second Cup, it was Ray Bourque's final NHL game. As the Nordiques, they were best known for playing in the shadow of the Habs, their heated rivalry with Buffalo, and for drafting Eric Lindros, whose subsequent trade to Philadelphia (without having played a game for Quebec) became the building blocks for the Avs' first Stanley Cup run. After some time being bottom feeders, they saw a resurgence in 2013–14, lead by two key players of the SC runs, Sakic himself as GM, and goalie Patrick Roy as coach. After Roy was fired, 2016-17 marked an absolute Rock Bottom, winning only 22 games and after the lottery picking only fourth in the draft. The Avs still managed to rebound quickly, going to the playoffs the following two seasons.
    • Dallas Stars: Formerly the Minnesota North Stars. One of the teams created in the 1967 Expansion. Faced several ownership issues in Minnesota, including a merger with another failed team in 1978 (the Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons), and a threat to move the team to San Jose before the merger was dissolved with the formation of the Sharks. Despite leaving a hockey-rich market in 1993, the Stars have surprisingly thrived in Dallas, winning the Cup in 1999 (although the nature of the Cup-winning goal remains a point of contention, especially in Buffalo). They recently have begun an up-and-down resurgence starting in 2013, with several off-season trades, including stars Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov, as well as former Lightning-GK Ben Bishop, before acquiring Sharks stalwart Joe Pavelski and longtime Duck Corey Perry prior to a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020.
    • Minnesota Wild: Awarded as a 2000 expansion team largely as an apology for allowing the North Stars to be hijacked to Dallas. Helps that the Wild ownership has been far more committed to the local market than any of the Stars' owners ever were, having retired #1 as a tribute to the hockey fans of Minnesota at the first Wild game. Until 2009 they didn't have a permanent captain (the position was rotated among the players). Once held one of the more unusual streaks in the game—they won all of their home openers until finally dropping one in 2013. Also, they have the punniest chant in the league thanks to their team's name.
    • Nashville Predators: A consistently decent team since about 2004, which has problems both with other people knowing they exist and staying solvent: the fanbase is pretty decent, but corporate sponsors are lacking for them, not to mention attempts in 2007 to move the team to be the "Hamilton Predators" that fell through and then to Kansas City. Part of this situation might be the defensive-minded approach that its coach Barry Trotz (the only coach the team had since it started playing in 1998, until 2014) has implemented — it's effective in winning games but doesn't make for exciting play that can draw fans in, but that changed with the addition of Mike Fisher (after being traded from the Senators, where he was a fan favorite), husband of country superstar Carrie Underwood and team captain until his short-lived retirement in the 2017 offseason (and second retirement in 2018), as well as making it past the first round of the playoffs thrice note . Have had a few dominating defencemen with Ryan Suter (currently in Minnesota), Shea Weber (captain for six years, even warranting a massive contract of $110M for 14 years) and P.K. Subban (traded from Montreal for Weber), with the last one leading the team to their first Stanley Cup final in 2017 before being traded to the Devils during the 2019 offseason in a salary dump. (Plus another fun fact: just as Red Wings fans have thrown octopi on the ice and Panthers fans used to throw plastic rats, Preds fans have tossed catfish in the rink.)
    • St. Louis Blues: One of the teams created in the 1967 expansion, they were the team with the longest Cup drought since its inception - a whopping fifty-two years - before finally securing victory in 2019 in spectacular comeback fashion, having clawed their way out of dead last in the league at the start of 2019. Prior to that, they made the Finals in their first three seasons (due largely to divisional alignments of the time guaranteeing one of the 1967 expansion teams facing an Original Six team in the Finals), only to be swept each and every time (twice by the Canadiens, once by the Bruins). They were once owned by Ralston Purina (who penny-pinched the hell out of the team), and nearly moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan before a new owner was found that would keep the team in St. Louis.note  Brett Hull had his best years as a Blue.
    • Winnipeg Jets: Formerly the Atlanta Thrashers. On May 31, 2011, the team was sold and moved to Winnipegnote  for the next season, resurrecting the previous team's name due to overwhelming fan support for it (this has also led to a massive Continuity Snarl, as the history of the original Winnipeg Jets is now entrenched in the backstory of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes,note  a severely contentious issue among Jets purists). The Jets play in the smallest standalone market among the Big Four sports leagues and are one of two teams based in a metropolitan area with less than one million residents.note  Season tickets for Winnipeg's 2011–12 season sold out in 17 minutes. The team then remained two years geographically miscast in the now-defunct Southeast Divisionnote  before the league and the players' union accepted a new realignment. Prior to the 2017-18 season, the franchise only made the playoffs twice, getting swept both times, once in their only appearance as the Thrashers in 2007 against the Rangers and again in their first appearance as the Jets in 2015 against the Ducks. The Jets finally won their first playoff game against the Wild on April 11, 2018, and the Jets subsequently won the series 4-1, marking the first time since 1987 that a Winnipeg-based team advanced to the Second Round, which it did win against the Predators, making it to the Western Conference Finals (and thus the league semi-finals) for the first time in the history of either incarnation of the Jets.

  • Pacific Division - this division contains the westernmost teams in the NHL, and through having three California teams, has the greatest concentration of teams from a single state or province in one division.
    • Anaheim Ducks: Formerly the "Mighty Ducks of Anaheim", this team was founded by Disney following the success of The Mighty Ducks movies (and subsequently the real team's mascot, Wildwing Flashblade, became the protagonist of Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series cartoon featuring him and other duck aliens fighting evil whilst being NHL players).note  Thankfully, they dropped the "Mighty" from their name in 2006, then won the Stanley Cup the very next year, the first Californian team to do so. They also had a streak of constantly losing home game sevensnote  for a time, but were able to buck that trend in a Conference Final appearance, only to get swept in the First Round of the next season by their rivals in the Bay before having a monumentally bad season the year after that, in which they nearly broke the record for the most consecutive losses in a single season. They have a fierce geographic rivalry with the Los Angeles Kings known to fans as the Freeway Face-Off, both of them have equally-fierce rivalries against their northern neighbors, the San Jose Sharks, and now all three of them have rivalries (to varying degrees) with their eastern neighbor, the Vegas Golden Knights. For quite some time, due to a very physical style of play that often sees them toe the line on what they can get away with, as well as having "goon players"note  like Chris Pronger, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, and Nick Ritchie over the years, Anaheim came to have the reputation of being "the bullies of the league". As expected from a team with such a reputation, Anaheim were known for relying on their defense to defeat opposition, and as such, the goalies that have played for them over the years came to be known as top-class goalies, with names like Guy Hébert, Jean-Sébastien Giguère, Jonas Hiller, Frederik Andersen, and John Gibson consistently being in the mix for the Vezina Trophy, even if no Duck has ever won it.note  Following a playoff sweep in the 2017-2018 season, the Ducks began the long rebuild, shedding veterans and seasoning youth prospects to create a more offensive and speedy team in line with today's North-South-style NHL, though there's still a long way to go before the championship window opens once again.
    • Calgary Flames: Once home to one of the best mustaches in the league, belonging to Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald. Major rival to the Edmonton Oilers, as part of the Battle of Alberta, and also have another big one in the Vancouver Canucks. The rivalry with the former was most heated in the 1980s, when both teams had stockpiled incredible amounts of talent, the Oilers taking most of the series versus the Flames. (Although in 1986, the Oilers did the Flames a favor by scoring on themselves in Game Seven.) Also broke Canada's heart when they couldn't seal the deal back in 2004 — although there was a potential Cup-winning goal scored by the Flames late in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals that is still a sore point for Flames fans today. The franchise started as the Atlanta Flames from 1972 to 1980, before moving northwest to join Edmonton in the NHL. Lately, they have been unable to amount to much, failing to qualify for seven of the last nine playoffs, and in both of their appearances, getting shown the door by the Anaheim Ducks, against whom they had a spectacularly-long losing streak away from home up until 2017. Amazingly, their best season was one where the Ducks didn't qualify.
    • Edmonton Oilers: The last surviving team from the World Hockey Association that remains in its original city, and the only one of the four that joined the NHL (Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jetsnote , Hartford Whalers) that never actually won a WHA title. The team most people think of when they talk about Wayne Gretzky. Once had an epic rivalry with the Los Angeles Kings during the '80s, but it was more one-sided in favor of the former; the Oilers won the Cup five times in seven years (1984, '85, '87, '88, and '90; a fluke own-goal cost them the chance to play for the 1986 trophy, and Gretzky was traded in the 1988 off-season). Simply put, they were an offensive juggernaut in the '80s, shattering records. The '90s, though, were a different story: changing economics forced management to dismantle the team (by the start of the 1992 season, most of the players from the dynasty years were gone), though they did make the playoffs somewhat consistently in the late 1990s. They last made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006, only to be defeated by the Carolina Hurricanes in the seventh game. Since then, they've had a string of last or next-to-last-place finishes in their division (including finishing dead last in the league twice in a row), and subsequently a lot of high draft picks — most notably, four first-overall in a period of six years between 2010 and 2015. And yet the accumulation of young talent didn't translate into a winning season until 2016–17 (which made the rest of the league kind of hate the Oilers … but not their fans, whom they agree deserve a break someday), but the following season saw them miss the playoffs by a considerable margin, leaving that bright future in doubt due to high contracts for Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, and Andrej Sekera taking away a lot of cap space. Currently playing in one of the league's newest arenas, namely Rogers Place (opened for 2016–17).
    • Los Angeles Kings: One of the teams created in the 1967 expansion. The team traded for Wayne Gretzky in 1988, a move which probably saved the Kings but almost caused the Canadian government to interfere (Serious Business doesn't begin to describe hockey in Canada). Was the NHL's first team in a warm-weather city. Has a rather large and loyal fanbase. Stanley Cup champs of 2012 and 2014, both runs seeing some impressive victories over heavily-favored opposition (including a Second Round reverse sweep of the San Jose Sharks). Their regular season prowess leaves a lot to be desired, as in their fifty-one years of existence, they have only managed a single division title, but when playing as underdogs, the Kings often play far better than they do as favorites. Have a fierce rivalry with next-door neighbors Anaheim (The "Freeway Faceoff") and an equally-deep rivalry with the San Jose Sharks up the road. In recent years, a lesser rivalry with the Golden Knights also developed.
    • San Jose Sharks: The first team of the 1990s expansion, born out of a failed attempt to relocate the North Stars to the Bay Area, and one of the more successful examples from a business perspective. They currently have a reputation of doing well in the regular season but not so well come playoff time; in 2010 and 2011 they made it to the Western Conference Finals, but lost in four games to Chicago and five to Vancouver, respectively. In 2014, they had a 3-0 lead over the Los Angeles Kings in the Second Round, only for the Kings to come back and win. In 2016, however, they finally won the Western Conference Finals after beating the St. Louis Blues in six games, but still lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Penguins in six games. As such, sports media and many fans seem to feel the "choker" label no longer applies (the teams that beat them in the 2016 Finals and eliminated them in 2010, 2011, and 2014 were all extremely potentnote ), but popular opinion being what it is, they will likely be "chokers" until they win a Cup. In addition to geographic rivalries with the Kings and the Ducks, the Sharks have developed a very fierce rivalry with the Vegas Golden Knights.
    • Seattle Kraken: Seattle's place in hockey extends much further back into the earliest days of the sport, but the state of Washington had gone without an NHL team for over 80 years before 2018, when a group of businessmen (including TV/Film producer Jerry Bruckheimer) secured a proposal to expand the NHL back into the American side of the Pacific Northwest, with the name and logos being announced of July 2020. The name and even the team colors themselves were a source of major speculation, as they didn't immediately reveal them, and several major candidates for the name were bandied about for two straight years, with the Kraken name always being seen as sort of an Awesome, but Impractical choice, even being outright denied being the name... right up until its reveal as the team name. note  Despite geographic proximity to Vancouver north of the border, support for the team exploded almost the moment the team was announced, with even fans of other teams showing excitement for Seattle's entry into the league. Their arrival also has huge implications for the National Basketball Association, given there has been a clamor to bring a team back, but no word on that front yet. Nevertheless, the city is ready to join the league, and will officially hit the ice in the 2021-2022 season.
    • Vancouver Canucks: Unusually for a hockey team, until recently their goalie (Roberto Luongo) was captain.note  Has reached the Stanley Cup Final three times and lost, twice to teams from New York (Islanders in '82, Rangers in '94) and to the Boston Bruins in 2011. The 1978–85 "Flying-V" sweater is widely considered to be one of the ugliest uniforms in League history, though some would argue that they've never really had good luck with uniforms. Home to the Sedins before their retirement, twin brothers with such uncanny chemistry that "Henrik to Daniel … Goal!" was one of the most common sounds in the league. Some people consider them to be rather creepy. Their last two Cup losses sparked riots in Downtown Vancouver. They really don't like CalgaryNote 1: Geography  Note 2: History of the rivalry , don't like Chicagonote  (but not as much as in recent yearsnote ), and they absolutely despise Boston.note  Until recently, they had an unfortunate reputation for flopping and playing dirty, which only waned after three very disappointing seasons (they went 1–8 in the 2012 and 2013 playoffs, and missed the playoffs in 2014 entirely), and the addition of Trevor Linden, Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins to the organization. And the hate for the Canucks in Alberta will always endure. Also known as the team who caused the NHL to start cracking down on fights and enforcers due to one of its enforcers, Todd Bertuzzi, sucker punching Colorado Avalanche's Steve Moore from behind and driving his head into the ice, basically ending his career right then and there. The decission to allow Bertuzzi back into the league after only a relatively small suspension is considered one of the league's permanent black eyes and is still highly controversial to this day.
    • Vegas Golden Knights: As part of the 2013 conference realignment, the two conferences were set with an imbalanced number of teams on order to allow for future expansion. The league officially began accepting bids in 2015 with proposals from Las Vegas and Quebec City, and Vegas was awarded a franchise in 2016 that began play at the new T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip in the 2017–18 season.note  An initial season ticket drive prior to the official bid earned commitments from over 14,000 people. The Golden Knights are the first Big Four sports team in the city's history, it previously being the largest metro area in the country without one.note  Billionaire owner Bill Foley appears dead set on avoiding most of the issues that have plagued Sun Belt teams in the pastnote  and so far has been taking the right steps in doing so, including hiring longtime Capitals general manager George McPhee. Before the team was announced, Foley publicly stated that it would either be Desert Knights, Golden Knights, or Silver Knights, and not any name related to gambling, per league requirements. His original preference was Black Knights, as a nod to his days at West Point, but he wasn't able to claim that name.note  On November 22, 2016, Foley officially revealed the name and logos of the new team as the Golden Knights, and in June of 2017, their expansion draft was held, making Vegas the new home of 3-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-André Fleury, former Nashville centerpiece James Neal, and former St. Louis Blue David Perron. Vegas then rewrote what success for an expansion team in their inaugural season means, defying the odds and became the first expansion team across all four major sports to finish with not only a winning season, but also clinched the Pacific Division title, battled with Nashville, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, and Boston for the President's Trophy, and reached the Stanley Cup Finals, all in their first year of existence. However, despite their best efforts, the Knights fell to Washington in the Cup Finals after winning just one Finals game. Although the Arizona Coyotes were originally poised to be their rivals, Vegas sees the San Jose Sharks as their main rival instead given the physically intense matches between the two and Arizona's pending move to the Central Division once the Seattle Kraken begins play and take their place in the Pacific Division. In addition, they have lesser but still fierce rivalries with the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

Two Roads to the Top: Unlike Major League Baseball, which runs its own farm teams, and basketball and football, which rely almost entirely on NCAA college ball to develop the rising generation of players, the NHL splits recruiting between two parallel systems: the NCAA and the Canadian Hockey League (also called the Major Juniors). Both of these, in turn, increasingly recruit from both sides of the border and both offer unique advantages to players — the CHL offers an earlier start (age 16 or occasionally earlier if a player is considered exceptional) and faster track while the NCAA offers a degree from a (sometimes quite prestigious) U.S. university as a fallback and more stability (CHL players can be traded at a moment's notice just like NHL players, while of course at an NCAA school, you stay in one place until you graduate, drop out, voluntarily transfer, or get kicked out for misconduct).note  Another option is the United States Hockey League (USHL), also a junior league.

While both draw from the same pool of youth hockey players, once a player has committed to one or the other there's no switching — the NCAA considers (ex-)CHL players professionals ineligible for their "amateur" sport while a player with a year in an NCAA program under his belt would be, at 19, too old to start out in the CHL (although both retain existing players up to age 22–23). The USHL, on the other hand, is strictly amateur, which allows players to go to the NCAA.

The NHL also recognizes two minor leagues for player development: the American Hockey League and the ECHL (an Artifact Title, it was known before 2003 as the East Coast Hockey League, but now has teams throughout North America), roughly equivalent to AAA and AA in baseball, respectively.

NHL Awards

As with any sports league, the NHL has more than its share of awards for both outstanding individuals and teams. Most of these are presented at a special awards banquet after the end of the Stanley Cup Final, though the 2019–20 awards were announced one at a time due to COVID-19 disruptions. They are as follows:

    Team Awards 
  • Stanley Cup: THE championship trophy (although it didn't start out quite that way). For everything you ever wanted to know about it—and a few things you might not—see our page on it.
    • Current holder: Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Prince of Wales Trophy: Awarded since 1924, it has been a conference (or equivalent) championship trophy for most of its history... although it began its life as the NHL championship trophy, and during the Original Six era was awarded to the top regular-season team (which now gets the Presidents' Trophy). Currently, it's the Eastern Conference trophy. The "Prince of Wales" here is the future Edward VIII (later the Duke of Windsor), who donated the trophy.
    • Current holder: Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Clarence S. Campbell Bowl: Awarded since 1968, the first after the NHL doubled in size from the "Original Six" to 12 teams. It's always been a conference (or equivalent) championship trophy, now for the Western Conference. Named after the third NHL President (the office now occupied by the Commissioner).
    • Current holder: Dallas Stars
  • Presidents' Trophy: Awarded since 1986 to the team with the best regular-season record, based on points earned. It's well known for being the land of teams who crumble in the playoffs, oftentimes in humiliating fashion — Presidents' Trophy winners have lost in the first round of the playoffs (seven times) nearly as often as they've won the Cup (eight).
    • Current holder: Boston Bruins

    Individual Awards 
The league hands out a boatload of annual individual awards. Except as noted, these are voted on exclusively by sportswriters who cover the league.
  • Hart Memorial Trophy: The league's main MVP award, awarded since 1924. The award criterion is explicitly stated as the "player judged most valuable to his team" during the regular season. Wayne Gretzky has a record nine of them, eight of them in succession.
    • Most Recent Winner: Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers
  • Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: First awarded in 1925, and presented to the "player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability." Pre-WWII player Frank Boucher has the record for most awards with seven (in eight years, no less); Gretzky has five. Some in the media have publicly called for the voting body to be changed to either the players or the on-ice officials, but nothing has come of it.note 
    • Most Recent Winner: Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche
  • Vezina Trophy: Has been an award for goaltenders since it was first presented in 1937. It originally went to the league's top goaltender. Then, from 1947 to 1982, it went to the goalie(s) with the team that allowed the fewest goals during the regular season. Since then, it has returned to being an award for the top goalie, specifically the one "adjudged to be the best at this position." Unlike most seasonal awards, the Vezina is voted on by the league's general managers. Jacques Plante has the most awards with seven; under the current voting criteria, Dominik Hašek has the most with six.
    • Most Recent Winner: Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
  • Calder Memorial Trophy: Presented since 1937 to the league's top rookie. Famously the subject of a rule patch after the 1990 award went to the 31-year-old Sergei Makarov, who had starred with the famous Soviet Red Army team before political change allowed him to move to the NHL. Since then, there's an age limit—a winner can be no older than 25 as of September 15 of his rookie season. Also, the rules exclude any player who had appeared in more than 25 regular-season games in any single season, or anyone who has appeared in more than 6 regular-season games in any two seasons in any major professional league worldwide. Notably, that's why Gretzky doesn't have this award—the NHL counted his rookie season in the old World Hockey Association against him.
    • Most Recent Winner: Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche
  • Art Ross Trophy: First presented in 1948, it's the oldest of several awards based strictly on statistical criteria. It goes to the league's leading scorer (combined points and assists) in the regular season. Gretzky has a record 10 awards, seven of them in a row.
    • Most Recent Winner: Draisaitl
  • James Norris Memorial Trophy: Another position-specific award, presented since 1954 to the "defense player [i.e., defenseman] who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position." Bobby Orr has a record eight of these, all in succession.
    • Most Recent Winner: Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
  • Conn Smythe Trophy: Awarded since 1965 to the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs, with emphasis on "playoffs". Unlike the other three traditional major leagues of the US and Canada, this award is based on performance in the entire playoffs—not just the final game or series.note  Unlike most of the seasonal awards, three finalists are not named—only the winner is announced. Also differing from most seasonal awards, it's presented immediately after the end of the Stanley Cup Final, just before the Cup itself is presented. Patrick Roy is the only three-time winner, and also the only player to win it with more than one team (twice with the Habs, once with the Avs).
    • Most Recent Winner: Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: First presented in 1968 as a memorial to Bill Masterton, who died during that season from an on-ice injury while playing for the Minnesota North Stars—the only player in league history to die as a direct result of an injury sustained while playing.note  Each team nominates one player who, in its view, exhibits "qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey", with the same sportswriters who vote on most of the other awards making the final decision. While it's not specifically a "comeback player of the year" award, the winner very often meets that criterion.
    • Most Recent Winner: Bobby Ryan, RW, Ottawa Senatorsnote 
  • Ted Lindsay Award: The NHL's other MVP award, voted on by players instead of sportswriters and awarded since 1971. Originally known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, receiving its current name in 2010. As with some of the other awards listed here, Gretzky has the most, with five.
    • Most Recent Winner: Draisaitl
  • Jack Adams Award: The league's "coach of the year" award, presented since 1974. It's the only significant NHL award that's voted on exclusively by broadcast media. Shockingly, this one isn't automatically given to the coach of the Presidents' Trophy winner, but instead is usually given to a coach who has experienced an epic turnaround, especially a coach who was just hired to a new team and turns them from losers to a playoff team. Pat Burns has a record three of them.
    • Most Recent Winner: Bruce Cassidy, Boston Bruins
  • Frank J. Selke Trophy: Presented since 1978 to the league's top defensive forward. Bob Gainey, who won the first four awards, and Patrice Bergeron share the record for the most wins.
    • Most Recent Winner: Sean Couturier, C, Philadelphia Flyers
  • William M. Jennings Award: Another award based strictly on statistical criteria. First presented in 1982 as the replacement for the Vezina Trophy after the latter award reverted to its original purpose of honoring the league's top goaltender. Presented to any goaltender who played a minimum of 25 games for the team that allowed the fewest goals in the regular season. Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur share the record for most awards with five.
    • Most Recent Winners: Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halák, Boston Bruins
  • King Clancy Memorial Trophy: One of two "man of the year" awards, presented since 1988 and voted on by a combined panel of print and broadcast media. The only person to have received this award more than once is Henrik Sedin, once by himself and once with his twin brother Daniel.
    • Most Recent Winner: Matt Dumba, D, Minnesota Wild
  • Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy: Presented since 1999 to the leading goal scorer of the regular season.
    • Most Recent Winners: Alexander Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals (also the record holder for most awards, with nine) and David Pastrňák, RW, Boston Bruins
  • Mark Messier Leadership Award: Presented since 2007 to the league's best on-ice and off-ice leader, as determined by Messier himself. No one has won this award more than once.
    • Most Recent Winner: Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames
  • Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. First presented in 2010, with the voting body consisting of the league's GMs, plus five NHL executives and five media members. Following the 2019 death of former Maple Leafs GM and NHL executive Jim Gregory, the league added his name to the award. Another award yet to have a two-time recipient.
    • Most Recent Winner: Lou Lamoriello, New York Islanders
  • E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence: Presented since 2015 at the NHL Entry Draft to a prospect judged to have the best combination of character, skill, and athleticism, as determined by NHL Central Scouting.
    • Most Recent Winner: Zayde Wisdom, RW, Kingston Frontenacs; drafted by Philadelphia Flyers

Names to know

  • Wayne Gretzky: The Great One. Near universally considered the best hockey player of all time, he holds over 60 league records, including the career highs for most goals, assists, and points in both the regular season and playoffs, and led Edmonton to four Stanley Cup championships. He was traded to Los Angeles in 1988, and played briefly with St. Louis and the Rangers in the late '90s. He retired in 1999, and coached the Coyotes for four seasons (but they were perennial losers under him). Also one of the nicest players to set skate to ice, staunchly avoiding fights and always playing a clean game, as evidenced with him winning the NHL's Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for good sportsmanship and complementary playing skill five times. His #99 was retired league-wide in 2000.
    • His records are so dominating that, in the seventeen years since he's retired, his career points (a point being a goal or an assist) is still completely untouched, nearly 1000 points higher than second place. Besides scoring more goals than anyone in league history (894), even if you only count his assists (1,963), the amount still tops any other player's career point total.
    • Gretzky finished his career with 2,857 regular-season points. The next one in the scoring lists is Jaromír Jágr with 1,921 career points; while he remained active in the league until being released in January 2018, he was less than a month shy of his 46th birthday at his release and was in his 24th NHL season.
    • To give another measure of how crazy Gretzky's point totals are, the 6 Sutter brothers scored 2,934 points over 4994 games combined. That's a mere 77 points more in over 3,500 more games.
  • Gordie Howe: The man who held most of the league's records before Gretzky came along and smashed them. Also known as "Mr. Hockey". The unofficial stat of a ‘Gordie Howe Hat Trick’ is named after him, indicating that a player has scored a goal, an assist, and a fighting major in one game, even though Howe himself rarely accomplished this feat. He played most of his NHL career for the Detroit Red Wings and is probably most beloved there (he also ended up retiring there). Howe came out of retirement to play alongside his sons in the World Hockey Association before retiring again with the Whalers in 1980. He then came out of retirement again to play a shift with a minor league team in the 1990s for the sole purpose of becoming the only man ever to play professional hockey in six consecutive decades. Gretzky's hero growing up — the two would play on a line together at the 1980 All-Star Game, with Gretzky as the youngest player and Howe as the oldest. He's possibly considered the Trope Maker of a power forward in ice hockey because back then, there weren't many guys of that particular caliber until Howe came.
  • Maurice "the Rocket" Richard: One of the greatest players in his generation and best goalscorers of any. First player to ever score fifty goals in fifty games. Just four other men have followed.note  The trophy given to the league's top regular-season goal scorer is named after him.
  • Bobby Hull & Brett Hull: Father and son who, while they never played during the same years, were both feared for their booming shot. Bobby stunned the hockey world in 1972 for jumping to the World Hockey Association and the first million-dollar contract in hockey history. Between them, they've scored over 1300 NHL goals. ‘The Golden Jet’ and ‘The Golden Brett’, respectively.
  • Stan Mikita: Along with Bobby Hull, is considered one of the greatest Blackhawks of all time, having developed a distinct Red Oni, Blue Oni playing style with Hull that proved highly effectivenote  and led to the team's 1961 Cup. The two were honored in 2011 with life-size bronze statues outside the United Center right by that one guy who tends to be associated with great Chicago athletes. Mikita is the actual career leader in ‘Gordie Howe hat tricks’ (see above).
  • Guy Lafleur: A dynamic offensive star for the Canadiens during the Seventies. Known for his hair flying behind him as he zoomed down the wing. Known as ‘The Flower’ as such (and because it is also a direct French translation of his surname), or ‘The Blond Devil’.
  • Mario Lemieux: Perhaps the only player who could rival Wayne Gretzky (Gretzky said Mario was actually better than he was) in skill, and points (1.88 points per game to Gretzky's 1.92), if his career wasn't plagued by injuries: chronic back problems (to the point he could hardly tie up his own skates), lots of hip issues and freakin' cancer, before finally retiring due to a heart issue. He retired once previously for three years, and took a full year off. Currently part of the ownership group of the Penguins and its AHL farm team, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Lemieux bought the Penguins in 1999 in order to keep his beloved team in Pittsburgh, and un-retired in 2000 to both draw crowds back to games and so his young children could see him play. This made him the very first player-owner in NHL history, and one of the very few ever in North American professional sports. Retired for the last time in 2007 due to heart problems. Wore #66. Is the only player to score a goal in each of the game's five possible situationsnote  in a single NHL game, which pretty much everyone agrees will never happen again.
  • Jaromír Jágr: Lemieux's longtime lancer during the Pens' glory years in the '90s and once owner of one of the most legendary mullets in sports history. Served as captain for Pittsburgh for a time after Mario's first retirement before the team's financial troubles led to him being let go. After a few seasons with the Capitals and Rangers the seemingly washed-up star returned to Europe to play in the KHL where he improved, eventually to the point of leading the Czech national team to gold at the World Cup. Wears #68 in honour of his grandfather who died in the Czech uprising of 1968. At age 39 he set his sights on a return to the NHL leading to the infamous 2011 "Jágr Watch" in the days leading up to the summer free-agency period. All signs pointed toward him returning to Pittsburgh but the deal fell through at the last minute and he eventually signed with the Pens' Arch-Enemy, the Flyers. As expected, backlash ensued. He was traded to the Bruins near the end of the 2012–13 season and wasn't re-signed at the end of the season. He then signed with the Devils as a free agent, being traded to the Panthers halfway through the 2014-15 season. Can still bring it from time to time — on January 3, 2015, Jágr became the oldest player in NHL history to score a hat trick, about six weeks shy of his 43rd birthday. Many note Jágr would be closer to Gretzky's numbers had he not spent some seasons in Russia.
    • And it seemed for a while that Jágr still had what it took to play at the very top level: in the opening five games of 2015–16 season, he scored four goals and three assists for the Panthers. By the end of the season, he led the team in points, finishing with 66, and the Panthers won their division. And then in 2016–17, he passed Mark Messier for second place on the all-time scoring list. All this at 44 years old. And he had absolutely no plans to retire—in fact, he's said he can see himself playing until he's 50 (which would be in February 2022).
    • However, injuries finally caught up with him in the 2017–18 season, and the Calgary Flames released him during that season. After clearing waivers, he returned to his homeland to play for HC Kladno, a team he owns that was then in the second division. Jágr failed in his first attempt to get them promoted to the Czech top flight, but succeeded in 2019, and still plays for them.
  • Marcel Dionne: Sixth all-time in points and third only behind Gretzky and Lemieux in 100-point seasons. One of the most talented players never to win the Cup. Ironically, his less talented brother, Gilbert, pulled it off — with Montreal, against Marcel's longtime Los Angeles Kings — in 1993.note note 
  • Mark Messier: The last WHA-era player to retire after the merger. "The Moose". Won the Stanley Cup five times with his hometown team in Edmonton, but is better known for winning it with the Rangers in 1994 — he's the only player ever to captain two different teams to the Cup. He is often considered to be one of the greatest leaders to play hockey, sometimes nicknamed "The Messiah" in New York for his legendary playoff performance with the Rangers in 1994. When he retired, he was second to Gretzky in all-time points scored, though by a wide margin (1,887 points to Gretzky's 2,857; he's since been passed by Jágr). In 2004, Messier retired when he was on his second stint with the Rangers — in-between he had a short and failed stint in Vancouver which most try to forget, and made Messier hated in BC to this very day.
  • Sidney Crosby: ‘Sid the Kid’. Entered the NHL as a child hockey prodigy originally from Nova Scotia. One of the best players playing today, and the one most likely to be recognized by non-hockey fans. Scored the game winning goal for Canada in the 2010 Olympic gold-medal game. Also one of the most hated players outside of Pittsburgh, particularly in Washington, Philadelphia, and Detroit. Much of the criticism comes from his being pushed by the league and media as The Next One, and his immaturity (whether actual or perceived) in his early years, and his continued push by the media to this day. When it comes to international hockey, pretty much all of the US hates him because of the aforementioned gold medal-winning goal, which came against the United States. Was sidelined with a concussion in consecutive games in early 2011 (the former of which being the outdoor Winter Classic) and was out until November when he returned for a couple weeks but was out once again until March. (Unintentionally) the face of a string of high-profile concussions currently plaguing teams and players throughout the league.
  • Connor McDavid: 'Connor McJesus / The Chosen One'. Centerpiece for the Edmonton Oilers starting in the Late '10s, a prodigy on par with Sid the Kid himself, though unlike Crosby, he was designated The Next One by The Great One himself. At the beginning of the 2016/17 Season, Connor was named the youngest captain of an NHL team in history, at 19 years 256 days. He is also the fourth-fastest person ever to reach 100 points in the NHL (behind Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Ovechkin), and the third-youngest player to win the Art Ross trophy, with only Gretzky and Crosby being any younger, and also won the Hart Memorial and Ted Lindsay trophies in 2017 to complete the trifecta. Currently holds the highest contract in the NHL at his age, and served as the cover athlete for NHL 18. He has also gone on record saying his favorite players happened to be Crosby and Tyler Bozak, as he was a fan of the Penguins and Maple Leafs, and his play style of "pass-first" reflects that.
  • Mike Modano: Probably the best player in Stars history, so much so that even though he signed with Detroit, when he returned to Dallas they still cheered for him. He is still beloved in Minnesota as well, having helped lead the North Stars to the 1991 Finals; his last game for the Stars was against the Wild in St. Paul, and he received a standing ovation at the end of the game when he came back out in a North Stars throwback. Currently holds the scoring record among American-born players and is widely considered to be the best American player of all time.
    • Dave "Tiger" Williams: The NHL's all-time leader in penalty minutes with a staggering 3966 in 962 games. A feared fighter who was also fairly productive offensively with several 20-goal seasons (and one with 35) compiling a very respectable 513 career points total. A colorful character in the Seventies and Eighties, (in)famous for his ride-your-stick-like-it's-a-broom goal celebration.
  • Teemu Selänne: "The Finnish Flash". Spent most of his NHL career with the Anaheim Ducks (two separate stints totaling 14 seasons and change out of 22 in all), finally retiring in 2014 just before turning 44. He's one of the most prolific goal-scorers in league history and holds the record for most goals (76) and points (132) in his rookie season.note  A mainstay on the Finnish national team until his retirement, he played in four Olympics and is considered a national hero.
  • Pavel Bure: "The Russian Rocket" — one of the premier goal-scorers of the Nineties. A dynamic talent, his career was ended prematurely by injuries. The last player to post back-to-back 60-goal seasons.
  • Alexander Ovechkin: Captain of Washington, and one of the most electrifying players in the league today. Fans either love his energy, or hate his showboating. While being one of the most eligible bachelors in professional sports, he was noted for preferring the simple family life, and is an admitted Momma's Boy. Of course his mother is an two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner from the Soviet women's basketball team, and is also his agent. He is also apparently BFFs with DJ Pauly D. Was engaged to Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko, but they broke off the engagement in 2014; he's now married to Russian model Anastasia Shubskaya. Ovi reached the 700-goal mark during the 2019–20 season, with many players and media members believing he has a realistic chance of breaking Gretzky's career goals record.
  • Daniel and Henrik Sedin: Identical twins who retired at the end of the 2017–18 season, they played together for their entire lives except during the 2011 All-Star Game, when they were drafted by opposite teams. Considered to be two of the best players of the early 21st century, they ended their careers as the Canucks' regular-season leaders in both points and assists (with Henrik on top in both), and Daniel retired as the team's leader in regular-season goals. Each was the league's highest scorer once, and Henrik won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2009–10 and Daniel the Ted Lindsay Award the next season. Their playing styles were also eerily complementary; Daniel led Henrik in career goals by more than 150, while Henrik had nearly 200 more career assists than Daniel. Also known for their extensive community involvement; Henrik received the King Clancy Award, honouring said involvement, in 2016, and both twins shared that award at the end of their final season in 2018.
  • Joe Thornton: Former and current captain of the San Jose Sharks (having given the C over to Joe Pavelski until Pavs' departure to Dallas in-between stints), called ‘Jumbo Joe’ for his large size. Considered one of the best passers in the League (he has regularly earned more assists than all or most other players post-lockout), has recently drawn some comparisons to Steve Yzerman (see below) for committing to the defensive side of the game at the cost of reduced offense. Also known as a very nice guy during interviews and off the ice, but recently has started to react to the media with snarl and a little condescension due to their continued insistence on trotting out the “choker” label whenever the Sharks start to do poorly.
  • Steve Yzerman: The longest-serving captain in NHL history, wearing the C for Detroit for twenty years (19 seasons due to the 2004–05 lockout). Once an offensive superstar who approached Gretzky and Lemieux's scoring skills, Yzerman reinvented himself as a two-way player to help lead the Wings to three Stanley Cup titles. As GM for Team Canada, he put together the 2010 Gold-winning squad, and served as GM for the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2010 to 2018 — during which time the Bolts ironically eliminated the Wings in Round 1 in both 2015 and 2016. With the Wings failing to make the playoffs in the next three seasons after the second playoff exit at the hands of the Lightning, the GM position in Detroit finally opened up at the end of the 2018–19 season and Yzerman returned to the Motor City.
  • Paul Henderson: A very good player in the NHL and later WHA in The '60s and The '70s but famous for scoring the most dramatic and important goal in Canadian hockey history — the series-winning goal in the final game of the epic 1972 Summit Series versus the Soviets.
  • Sean Avery: The most hated player in the league. He was traded from the Red Wings to the Kings as a result of his behavior. He was then traded from the Kings to the Rangers in 2006, and the New York fans fell in love with his attitude that culminated in introducing an ingenious but outlandish tactic against the rival Devils in the 2008 playoffs. He signed with Dallas after that year to make more money, but was suspended and ordered to enter anger management by the league after making a crack about Dion Phaneuf getting his sloppy seconds before a game. He was waived and rejoined the Rangers later that year, and retired with them three years later because head coach John Tortorella notoriously disliked him, regularly demoting him without reason. Notably, he has different sides — he is very fashion-conscious (once interning with Vogue magazine one summer) and appeared in an ad publicly supporting gay marriage, leaving many detractors in the decidedly weird position of siding with him.
  • Jonathan Toews: Captain of the Blackhawks and the youngest member of the Triple Gold Club.note  Known as Captain Serious for his somewhat cold demeanor that occasionally borders on "Stop Having Fun" Guys. Has a notable bromance with Patrick Kane.
  • Patrick Kane: The red to Toews' blue. Scored one of the more awkward Cup-clinching goals in recent years in overtime of Game 6 of the 2010 Finals against the Flyers. It took several seconds for anyone else to realize the puck was in the net. Has earned the nickname "Showtime" because of his ability to score skill-demanding, flashy goals. A somewhat polarizing figure because of perceived arrogance, temperament, heavy victory drinking, and unwillingness to pay twenty cents. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013 and the Art Ross Trophy in 2015–16, in the latter case being the only 100-point scorer in the league that season and becoming the first-ever American-born scoring champion.
  • Joe Sakic: One of the longest-serving and most revered players and captains in the National Hockey League when he played for the Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche. Is known best for his amazing all-around play, amazing maturity, possessing one of, if not, the best wrist shots in the league, and for what is known as probably one of the classiest acts in sports history, defying tradition by handing the Stanley Cup over to Ray Bourque (who had waited 22 years to win the Cup) instead of lifting it himself.
  • Bob Probert: Considered one of the greatest enforcers ever to play the game. But he was far from a one-dimensional fighter, averaging around 15 goals a year in his early seasons and once putting up 29 to go with 62 points and 398 penalty minutes. A member of the fairly exclusive 3000-penalty-minute career club in the NHL, with 3300 in 935 games. Paired up with Joey Kocur in Detroit, they were known as the Bruise Brothers until Kocur went to the Rangers; as opponents, they would sometimes laugh through a fight. Probert was also known for his hard living; he missed most of the 1989-90 season and all of the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season due to drug and alcohol-related suspensions, which strained his relationship with the Red Wings organization and led him to joining the rival Blackhawks as a free agent. Nevertheless, he remained popular in Detroit, and he would reconcile with the Wings in the years before his untimely death in 2010.
  • Jarome Iginla (Full name — Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla): Half-Canadian, half-Nigerian ex-captain of the Calgary Flames, later playing for the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. One of the most recognizable power forwards and recognized as being one of the kindest individuals around despite having a bruising and physically punishing play style. Also, the Golden Goal Sidney Crosby scored to win gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics? Iginla made the pass. Has two Olympic golds, but was unable to win the Stanley Cup in in his playing career.
  • Dave Bolland: Former center for the Blackhawks (before being traded to Toronto in 2013) and definite fan favorite due to being a central figure in the Hawks' rivalry with Vancouver. One of the few players in the league known for being exceptionally good at shutting down the Sedins and their Creepy Twins play style. Was injured with a concussion in a game against the Lightning in March 2011 and didn't return until game four of the first round of the playoffs. He did so in dramatic fashion, preventing a sweep and changing the momentum of the series to force game seven eventually. This, combined with certain personality quirks, such as never smiling after a goal only to laugh hysterically all the way to the penalty box has earned him great Memetic Badass status of the Crazy Awesome variety. Suspected of being a Time Lord.
  • Steven Stamkos: Centre for the Tampa Bay Lightning, known for his speed and scoring ability. His career started off with an unremarkable rookie year (which he blamed on improper off-ice training), but quickly improved, winning the Rocket Richard trophy the following year. Took a puck to the nose in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, only to reappear minutes later with a face cage, impressing pretty much everybody. Sat out almost the entirety of the 2020 playoffs due to injury, but made a very brief appearance in Game 3 of the finals. Despite only being on the ice for a few minutes, he scored a goal on his first shot.
  • Martin St. Louis: One of the shortest guys ever to be considered a bona fide NHL star. Was undrafted when he entered the league but through hard work in the minors got himself some playing time with the Calgary Flames. When his contract got bought out in 2001, he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. By 2003, he was one of the team's key offensive weapons. During the team's Stanley Cup run he became the team's top goal-scorer, and was one of the league's top scorers until his retirement, even after going to the Rangers at the age of 39. He won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for "gentlemanly play" three times, but the fans still loved him.
  • Paul ‘BizNasty’ Bissonette: Former enforcer for the Coyotes, now color commentator with the Coyotes' radio broadcast team, who is more notable for his Twitter account than his playing. Aside from frequently bringing the league PR team to tears, he revels in Self-Deprecation about being a perennial fourth-liner and/or “healthy scratch” and has built up a solid fanbase in doing so. May be the reason the league has now instituted a social media blackout for players on gamedays. You can (and should) follow him right here.
  • Dan ‘CarBomb’ Carcillo: BizNasty's former partner in crime who, having bounced around several teams became a very polarizing figure among said teams' fanbases, most recently in Philadelphia. For the 2011–12 season, he signed with Chicago, whose fans, after some initial skepticism,note  very quickly welcomed him with open arms. His original Twitter account was deleted after an infamous tweet about a girl who just wanted her Daddy to be proud that may have been the reason for his favorable reception by Hawks fans. His new (slightly more SFW) account is right here.
  • Evgeni ‘Geno’ Malkin: Russian player for the Pittsburgh Penguins, known for being considered one of the top three best players in the league in recent years. Was MVP of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. Had trouble getting in the league from Russia and getting accustomed to the English language. He has been cold lately due to injuries, but this year looks good for him.
  • Patrick Sharp: A former Blackhawks star from Thunder Bay, ON. Before being traded to Dallas after the 2014–15 season, tended to serve as The Kirk to Toews and Kane's respective Spock and McCoy (even though Toews is actually The Captain). Was named MVP of the 2011 All-Star Game while being the only one (of the four) Hawks therein drafted to Team Staal, which lost anyway. That same year, had consecutive overtime winning goals in games the days immediately before and after the birth of his first child — who is already being shipped with Eric Staal (also of Thunder Bay)'s son, born two days later.
  • Daniel Alfredsson: The greatest player in Ottawa Senators history, played over 1000 games earning over 1000 points with them, serving as Ottawa's captain for 14 years (afterwards there was an attempt to win a Stanley Cup in Detroit that fell short). Was the first European captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup Finals.note  Was a part of the CASHnote  line until Dany Heatley demanded a trade out. Ottawa fans love their captain and often chant Alfie during games which can lead to this. He has also inspired a following called the Church Of Alfie. Oppositely, he is hated in Toronto for mocking then captain Mats Sundin after Sundin was suspended for throwing his broken stick into the crowd and also for this hit on Darcy Tucker.
  • Dany Heatley: Once a rising star with the now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers and later the Ottawa Senators, he was responsible for the death of his teammate and friend Dan Snyder as a passenger due to complications from a car accident where Heatley, as the driver, was speeding. Charged and pled guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide, but not sentenced to jail due to Snyder's parents pleading for leniency. Enjoyed later professional success after transferring to the Senators, but his back-to-back fifty-goal seasons seem a distant memory these days. Demanded to be traded from Ottawa, earning enmity from their fans. Landed in San Jose. Currently with the Anaheim Ducks after a short stint with the Minnesota Wild.
  • Dale Hunter: Known to be one of the most feared enforcers in the NHL, Hunter could add points on the board and notches to opponents' bodies every chance he got. He had some pretty impressive runs with the Quebec Nordiques and the Washington Capitals, becoming just part of a handful of goons that scored more than 1000 points and 3000 penalty minutes in his career. He stepped in as coach of the Capitals after Bruce Boudreau was fired due to inconsistency problems and managed to get them to the playoffs in the 2011–12 season, advancing to the second round and taking the New York Rangers to the limit before eventually being ousted in seven games. He left the job and returned to being head coach of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), alongside his brother, Mark, serving as the Knights' current GM. Rather infamous for crosschecking Pierre Turgeon into the boards after conceding a goal in the 1993 playoffs against the New York Islanders, earning a then-record 21-game suspension. Although the Islanders went on to shock the Pittsburgh Penguins without the aid of their best skater, not winning a playoff series since then hasn't healed any Hunter-inflicted wounds.
  • Bryan Trottier: Arguably the most complete forward of the '80s. Trottier won an Art Ross, six Stanley Cups and one as an assistant coach, was a rather tough SOB, and a dominant penalty killer. At a time, in the early '80s, many experts labelled Trottier as the best player in the league, even ahead of Gretzky. This was before Gretzky put up 92 goals and 163 assists in separate seasons, however.
  • Mike Bossy: Known as one of the game's great goal scorers, Bossy scored at least 50 goals in every year of his career until his last. Unfortunately he left the game after just ten years due to a debilitating back injury. Became Overshadowed by Awesome due to his four-year dynasty with the Islanders immediately preceding Gretzky's golden years (in fact, the fifth consecutive Islanders final was against the Oilers, who proceeded to start their dynasty).
  • Matt Cooke: Winger for the Penguins. Was once (and in some places, particularly Boston, still is) one of the most hated players in the league infamous for his reckless play and flying elbow that led to several players, most infamously the Bruins' Marc Savard,note  receiving serious sometimes career-ending injuries. Following a long suspension that had him miss the last several months of the 2010–11 season, as well as some soul-searching brought on by his wife falling ill and the concussion that sidelined his teammate Sidney Crosby, he vowed to change his game and spent the entire offseason relearning his play style. He finished the following season with no more than the average player's total penalty minutes, none of which was a major, and his offensive production improved dramatically.note  While many will likely never forgive him for his past actions, he is now frequently cited as proof that other infamously dangerous players can change although so far few have followed his lead.
  • Luc Robitaille: Currently the highest-scoring left-winger in NHL history, and the leading scorer in Los Angeles Kings history, playing for them in three different stints. The first stint was most notable for playing on a line with Wayne Gretzky. His season in Pittsburgh was most notable for an appearance in the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Sudden Death; his best season outside of Los Angeles came in 2001–02, when he won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings. Still connected to his original team, though; he retired a King and joined their front office, helping to put together the 2012 and 2014 Cup winners.
  • Doug Gilmour: A defensive forward who played for seven different NHL teams, and as captain of three of them (the Flames, the Maple Leafs, and the Blackhawks). Though he was only 5’11” tall and was a relative lightweightnote , he had an intense style of physical play that earned him his "Killer Doug Gilmour" nickname (though his looks, which were often compared to Charles Manson, also helped). Won the Stanley Cup once with the Flames in their only victory in 1989 and the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward in 1993 when he played in Toronto. Gilmour is currently the GM of the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in his hometown of Kingston, Ontario.
  • Eddie Shack: A left-sider who played on six different NHL teams, beginning with the New York Rangers in 1959 and culminating with the Pittsburgh Penguins when he retired in 1975. Known more for his long nose than for his actual hockey scoring talent, owing to receiving many Fan Nicknames such as "The Nose", "Pugnacious Pinocchio" and "The Entertainer". He was nevertheless a fan favourite in his role with the Toronto Maple Leafs when he joined in 1961. In his prime in 1966, before the Leafs won their last Stanley Cup, he was immortalized in a novelty song called "Clear the Track, Here Comes Shack" by a group calling itself "Douglas Rankine with the Secrets", which became a huge hit in Canada, being #1 on the Canadian pop charts for three months. Appeared in TV commercials across Canada where he lampshaded his long nose by joking, "I have a nose for value."
  • Mats Sundin: The first European-born player to be chosen first overall in the NHL Entry Draft. He was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989, and subsequently traded to the Maple Leafs in 1994. After a 94-point season in 1995–96, he was named the captain of the Leafs, serving that position until he was traded to the Canucks in 2009. During that tenure, he would end up becoming the all-time leader in scoring for the Leafs, and be a key centerpiece of the team's offensive efforts.
  • Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry: A duo that, along with Dustin Penner, led the "Kid Line" that pushed the Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2007. Both are the same age, form a one-two punch that even lead to a goal in the 2010 Olympics final, and got some commends: Getzlaf is the current captain, and Perry won both the Hart and the Rocket Richard Trophies in 2011. While Getzlaf appears to be getting better with age, and has shifted his play-style to be more pass-heavy, Perry looked to be slowing down as of late, but a shift back to the same line as Getzlaf produced dividends in the 2017 playoffs and when he filled in for Patrick Eaves in the 2018 season, it led to a bit of a resurgence, though it took Getzlaf coming back from injury to get him back to his old self. The duo finally parted with Perry being bought out of his contract after the 2018/19 season. Perry would sign for the Dallas Stars, along with former Sharks mainstay Joe Pavelski.
  • Anže Kopitar: The first and currently only player from Slovenia playing in the NHL, he's a major figure in the Los Angeles Kings, and contributed a large share to both their Stanley Cup titles. He might not be a goal scoring leader, but his puck control and passing accuracy and creativity are nothing to sneer at, and at the same time he's one of the best defensive forwards in the league. The Great One himself counts him among the three best hockey players in the world.
  • Charlie Conacher: Possibly the earliest example of a power forward in ice hockey, Conacher played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Detroit Red Wings, and the New York Americans. Nicknamed "The Big Bomber" for his size and physical play. He was part of a dynamic trio with the Leafs known as "The Kid Line"note  long before the Ducks coined the term, in which the line carried their team to a Stanley Cup win in the 1931–32 season. Unfortunately, Conacher's career was shortened by injuries, due in part to his rough style of play, and he retired after the 1941 season.
  • Patrice Bergeron: One of the current era's most celebrated "200 foot game" players, noted for both his offensive skill and his defensive skill. He is noted for his incredible chemistry with Brad Marchand, his four Selke Trophy wins, and his ability to be in the right place at the right time nearly every second he's on the ice, leading to nicknames like "Perfect Patrice".
  • Brad Marchand: One of the most famous/infamous "Pests" in the current era of hockey. He got his start from the fourth line of the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning Boston Bruins and worked his way all the way up to the first line in a matter of months, and has stayed there with his best friend and center, Patrice Bergeron. He's known for, among other things, trying all sorts of ridiculous things to get under the opponent's skin. Some harmless, like taunting them after the whistle or after a goal...and sometimes harmful, like slew-footing or spearing a player in the most sensitive part of the body. He gained his most notorious streak in 2017-18's playoff run, where he began licking players who tried to start fights and scrums with him... All of this just made the worse by the fact that Marchand is also one of the better goalscorers of his generation, ensuring fans are furious with him no matter when and where he's on the ice and what he's doing.
  • Cam Neely: One of the most feared players in the NHL of his time, he codified the term 'power forward' in ice hockey thanks to his imposing stature, hard yet accurate shot, quick release of the puck, and a willingness to use his physical style of play in the deeper aspects of the game, thus earning him the nickname "Bam-Bam Cam". Was drafted ninth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1983 draft and played three seasons with them until he got traded to the Boston Bruins, where he enjoyed his best years with the club. Unfortunately, like many power forwards that came before and after him, his career was plagued by injuries which hampered his ability as a front-line skater; he suffered two notable incidents which would later shorten his career. One was during Game 3 of the 1991 Prince of Wales Conference Finals when Ulf Samuelsson of the Pittsburgh Penguins delivered an illegal body-check on him, injuring his knee in the process and later developed a painful condition known as Myositis ossificans; this condition would remain with him for the rest of his career. Another happened during a regular season game in 1994 when the tip of his right pinky finger got cut off through his glove, requiring ten to fifteen stitches to repair. He would later return to the game in the second period and notch an assist. Now currently serving as president of the Bruins. He Also Did a brief stint in acting, playing trucker Sea Bass in Dumb and Dumber and making a cameo in the same role in its sequel Dumb and Dumber To.
  • Pavel Datsyuk: One of the best ever at puck-handling. There's a reason he's always one of the first three players to go in a shootout. Has played for the Red Wings his entire career, winning the Cup in 2002 (after his rookie season) and 2008. Has suffered from some injuries lately but when he's on he's the best in the league. In 2016 he returned to Russia to play in the KHL, and captained SKA St. Petersburg to the Gagarin Cup. One of the more recent members of the Triple Gold Club, having entered by winning gold in 2018 with the Olympic Athletes from Russia.note 
  • Taylor Hall: Left winger for the Boston Bruins. A first overall pick for the Edmonton Oilers, he showed his worth even as the team couldn't contend (Hall once scored two goals in 8 seconds, 1 faster than Gretzky himself!), and broke out after going to Jersey, leading the team back to the playoffs in 2018 with an MVP season, before being traded to Buffalo and then to Boston. Also a good luck charm for lottery teams: after drafting Hall, Edmonton won the first overall pick thrice, the Devils got it as soon as he was in their roster, and again in 2019.
  • David Pastrňák: Right Wing for the Boston Bruins. Nicknamed "Pasta", a late first round pick from the Czech Republic who came into immediate prominence on the Bruins for his shooting acumen, his ever-present smile, and goofy personality. But not taking him seriously is a decision made at your own risk, as he quickly established himself as a scoring threat in 2018, and in 2019 he became one of the most dangerous goal-scorers in the entire league, particularly on the man-advantage, leading it in goals for much of the year until Alex Ovechkin caught up right before the stoppage, and inevitably both won the Rocket Richard. He's also notable for tying Jaromír Jágr in most wins of the Czech Player of the Year award, notably in four straight years.
  • Auston Matthews: Centre for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The top overall pick in 2016, he made an immediate impact, becoming the first player in modern NHL history to score four goals in his NHL debut. He went on to score 40 goals as a rookie, and has scored 30-plus in each of the next two seasons, making the All-Star Game all three seasons. The cover athlete for NHL 20, he's also notable for his unusual background—he's one of the few Latino NHL players (his mother is originally from Mexico), and he was raised from infancy in the Phoenix area, which despite being home to an NHL team for his entire lifenote  remains a relative hockey backwater.
  • Patrick Marleau: Centre and left wing for the San Jose Sharks, for whom he has played for almost all of his 24-year (and counting) career; the exceptions are two seasons in Toronto (2017–2019) and the tail end of the 2019–20 season in Pittsburgh. The #2 pick in the 1997 draft, he made his NHL debut in the 1997–98 season opener only 16 days after turning 18, making him the youngest player to debut in the league since Len Wharton (at 17 years, 81 days) for the Rangers in 1945 (during WWII).note  Known for much of his career as one of the league's best skaters, and also for his sportsmanship (though he's never collected the Lady Byng Trophy), he's the Sharks' all-time leader in goals, points, even-strength goals, powerplay goals, and games played, and in April 2021 surpassed Gordie Howe for most NHL games played. While he's won World Championship gold and two Olympic golds with Team Canada, he's missing the Stanley Cup.

  • Bobby Orr: Unquestionably the greatest defenseman to play hockey and about the only player giving Gretzky competition for "best ever", yet had his career cut short due to a plague of knee injuries. Won the Cup twice with the Bruins. Scored "The Goal" to win the Stanley Cup in 1970, one of the most iconic moments in NHL history.
  • Eddie Shore: The most dominant defenseman of his era — the late 1920s through 1940 — would have won a pile of Norris Trophies had the award existed when he played, and like Orr, he played the bulk and best portion of his career in Boston. Won the Hart Trophy four times as league MVP. Known for being extremely ill-tempered and violent as well as skilled. Later became the owner of the AHL's Springfield Indians for three decades, leading them to a period of glory in the early 1960s where they won three consecutive regular season titles and three consecutive Calder Cups (the AHL's equivalent of the Stanley Cup) from 1960 to 1962, to the point where it was speculated that the Indians "could have played in the NHL" without even finishing last.
  • Ray Bourque: A defenseman considered second only to Orr. Holds the record for most consecutive All-Star games (19 in a row), most points scored by a defenseman and the unofficial record for most shots on goal (over 6000). When he retired, he was second only to Gretzky on assists. Played for 22 years (20½ of those with Boston, the remaining 1½ with Colorado) before finally getting to raise the Cup after his final game. No one had played longer before finally being able to hoist the Cup.
    • When he finally won the Cup, the Avalanche captain at the time, Joe Sakic, broke tradition. Tradition states the winning team's captain gets the first lap around the rink with the cup. Sakic took the cup, had his picture taken as part of the official presentation, turned to Bourque, and handed it over. Bourque had trouble skating around the rink through all the Manly Tears. Patrick Roy went on record saying, "A name was missing from that [Cup], and today it is back to normal."
  • Paul Coffey: The premier offensive defender in his day, breaking many of Bobby Orr's records. Known for his tremendous skating ability, but also for sometimes hanging around the offensive end for too long (particularly later in his career).
  • Al MacInnis: Best known for his incredibly powerful shot, often leaving trophy-sized bruises on players courageous enough to attempt to try and block it, despite being a great defenceman in all regards. Split his career between the Flames and Blues. Won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1989 when the Flames won their only Cup.
  • Scott Stevens: The captain of the New Jersey Devils during their Stanley Cup years in the late '90s and early '00s. When he played, forwards were often afraid to cross his blue line, for he was one of the hardest hitters ever to lace the skates. Known for classic, thunderous hits and checking Paul Kariya into an early retirement.
  • Mike Green: An offensive defenseman who is comparable to a young Paul Coffey.
  • Nicklas Lidström: A veteran defenseman who is known for his outstanding play with the Detroit Red Wings, quietly shutting down opposing offenses without much body contact. If there's a player that can challenge Orr for best defenseman ever he's it, although Orr's offensive numbers are far superior. He retired after the 2011–12 season, leaving an lasting legacy behind him.
  • Chris Pronger: Contrasting Nicklas Lidström, he is the epitome of physical domination in the defensive zone. Very big. Plays on the edge, nearly drawing infractions, but only nearly, drawing the ire of fans and players everywhere, except for his own. He is the most recent blueliner to win the Hart Trophy, which he did with St. Louis in 2000. Following a concussion in 2012, stopped playing despite still being on the Flyers' payroll in the subsequent years (the injury relief was preferred to voiding the contract). Drew the unending ire of Edmonton fans when, after helping the Oilers reach the Finals in 2006, he spurned them for Anaheim and helped the Ducks to win the Cup. Would also help the Flyers get to the 2010 Finals, getting infamous for taking away the pucks from games Philadelphia lost (not the series-winning, though). Due to his weird suspensions, he had a "Dammit, Pronger!" running gag as well.
  • Zdeno Chára: Slovakian-born captain of the Bruins. At 6’9” (well over seven feet with skates) is the tallest person ever to play in the NHL,note  and holds the league record for hardest slap shot. In fact, he's so tall that he can't use a standard NHL stick—the league gives him special permission to use a stick 2 inches (5 cm) longer than league rules allow. Involved in a somewhat controversial hit against Max Pacioretty of the Habs. Habs fans thought it was dirty and he should have been suspended. Bruins fans attest the injury was because of the glass between the benches that isn't present at other arenas. Due to the teams' known relationship and the Serious Business nature of hockey in Canada, the Montreal police got involved and Air Canada threatened to pull their sponsorship of the league. He's fluent in seven different languages and wants to learn an eighth.
  • Larry Murphy: He earned credentials as one of the best two-way defenders in the 1980s and 1990s, being one of the key players that helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win two consecutive Stanley Cups after strong stints with the Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals and Minnesota North Stars. The Detroit Red Wings would add him to their winning ways, earning him two more titles. In his time with the Penguins, he created the Murphy Dump, as coined by broadcaster Mike Lange: Murphy would clear out the puck from his zone so that it traveled just enough not to cause an icing call.
  • Denis Potvin: One of the greatest defensemen the game has ever seen. The #1 overall pick in 1974 for the New York Islanders propelled the team to the playoffs in just their third year of existence. He's the reason Rangers fans continued to chant "Potvin Sucks!" long after he'd retirednote  (though the chant was briefly relevant again when unrelated goalie Felix Potvin joined the Islanders, and struggled).
  • Niklas Kronwall: Swedish defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings. Not especially large or heavy but pretty much a one-man wrecking crew. His signature backwards charges on the boards coined the phrase “to get Kronwalled”.
  • Shea Weber: Canadian blueliner and alternate captain of the Montreal Canadiens. Known as one of the best active defenseman in the league, has been a finalist for the Norris Trophy twice and been in the top ten four consecutive times. Famous for his Howitzer of a slapshot.note  Made his name with the Nashville Predators, but traded straight-up for P.K. Subban in 2016. Currently holds the largest contract in the NHL (14 years, $110M).
  • P.K. Subban: Former Montreal Canadien and Nashville Predator, and current New Jersey Devil, Subban is one of the few black faces in hockey, and probably one of the best. He became both beloved and hated in Montreal for his dazzling 200-foot game that often overshadowed some of the forwards he played with, until he was controversially traded one-for-one with Shea Weber. The cover athlete for NHL 19. He is known for his philanthropy, wherein he gave and raised well over several millions of dollars to Montreal's Children's Hospital to the point that his name is enshrined in the building, and for his eccentric but incredibly sharp attire off-ice. Also known for his former off-ice relationship with American skier Lindsey Vonn. Before their breakup, the couple became part of the ever-growing list of North American sportspeople who own shares in American soccer teams; both are among the many minority investors in Angel City FC, a Los-Angeles based team that starts play in the National Women's Soccer League in 2022.
  • Scott Niedermayer: Former New Jersey Devil and Anaheim Duck Norris Trophy defenseman, who is the only hockey player in history to win all of the following championships: The Stanley Cup (three with New Jersey, one with Anaheim), Olympic Gold Medal (Team Canada 2002 and 2010), International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship (2004), the World Cup of Hockey (2004), and the World Junior Title (Team Canada 1991). One of his best moments was in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals. His younger brother Rob was a forward, and played in three Cup Finals (1996 for Florida, 2003 for Anaheim against Scott, and 2007 for Anaheim with Scott, winning it all).
  • Dion Phaneuf: Former star player for the Calgary Flames and captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now with the Los Angeles Kings. Feared around the league for his thundering, open-ice hits. Much like Kronwall, when forced to make a decision he tends to ignore the puck in favor of bulldozing his opponents, leading to a large collection of highlight reel hits. Often gets ridiculed in the media for being a completely bland and uninteresting person off the ice.
  • Slava Fetisov: One of the best defensemen of the 1980s while he played in the Soviet Union. Although he was mostly past his prime once he was allowed to come play for the NHL, he did win two Stanley Cups in Detroit in 1997 and 1998, and his fight against the Soviet government paved the way for other Russian stars to come to North America as well.
  • Jay Bouwmeester: Originally with the Florida Panthers and later the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues, Bouwmeester made his name as an "iron man", not missing a game from 2004 to 2014. While he was a two-time All-Star and multiple-time Canada national team member, he's been somewhat divisive. He's known as an outstanding skater, and was quite capable offensively, but was alleged to lack a physical presence on the ice (his durability notwithstanding). The newest member of the Triple Gold Club, having entered by winning the Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019. Bouwmeester is also notable for having survived a cardiac arrest on the sidelines during a game in February 2020; he was revived in the arena and had a defibrillator placed in his chest a few days later. He never played again, retiring in January 2021.
  • Harry Howell: He began his career playing for the Guelph Biltmores in the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) for two seasons in 1951 and 1952 before moving over to play in the NHL for the New York Rangers. He became a stalwart presence for the Rangers, where he played 17 years and managed to get the Norris Trophy in 1967, becoming the last player to win the award before Bobby Orr won his 8 straight awards. In 1969, he moved over the Oakland Seals, played there for two seasons through a name change to the California Gold Seals. He played the last three years of his NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings before moving over to the World Hockey Association to play a season each with the New York Golden Blades/Jersey Knights, San Diego Mariners, and Calgary Cowboys. After his hockey career, he dabbled briefly in acting, playing a bit part as an attorney in Murder in Coweta County. He also became a scout for the Edmonton Oilers, where he picked up his only ring in 1990. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1979.

  • Jacques Plante: "Jake the Snake". Innovated the modern goalie mask, and was the first to wear it regularly. Also innovated the concept of skating behind the net to stop the puck. Won the Vezina Trophy seven times (note that the criterion then was different than the one used now). His habit of knitting to relax helped establish goaltender as the likely position of any Cloud Cuckoo Lander that laced up their skates. Moved to Switzerland after his retirement and died there.
  • Gerry Cheevers, a good goalie in his own right (two-time Cup champion, Hall of Famer), began the tradition of decorating goalie masks when he would put a cartoon stitch mark on his mask where he got hit. Today, goalie masks are much more ornate, but the tradition started with him.
  • Terry Sawchuk: Considered the (or at least among) best goalies of the Original Six era. Had his best years with Detroit in the 1950s and '60s, but also spent time with the Bruins, Leafs, Kings and Rangers before dying in a freak fall at age 40. He held a record that many thought could never be broken, 103 shutouts, until it was done in 2009 by …
  • Martin Brodeur: Considered by some to be the best goalie of all time. In addition to the most shutouts, he holds the records for most wins, most shutouts in a seasons, saves in a career, and many more. He won the Cup three times with the Devils and two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada. Broke Patrick Roy's record for most wins and was still going strong with 691 compiled before his retirement in 2015.
  • Miikka Kiprusoff: Was not a starting goalie until after he was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Calgary Flames in the summer of 2003. In the starting spot he then set a modern-day NHL record for lowest goals-against average before backstopping the Flames all the way to game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, in an unlikely and charismatic playoff run by a scrappy underdog team. Has continued to be an outstanding goalie in the years since, frequently stealing wins with his acrobatic goaltending.
  • Roberto Luongo: Formerly with the New York Islanders, two stints with the Florida Panthers, and Vancouver Canucks, and was the first goaltender in decades to be a team captain, a title he relinquished after the 2009–10 season. While his technique borders on unorthodox, his frequent, and often incredibly athletic, saves leave viewers (and shooters) scratching their heads. After Martin Brodeur's embarrassing loss to Team USA in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Luongo took over as Team Canada's goalie, and helped salvage the tournament in his hometown, culminating in a gold medal. That was sort of a big deal. Since then, he's come under fire for his complete collapse in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and been the subject of a seemingly unending soap opera regarding a potential trade from the Canucks, that wound up returning him to his previous team, Florida Panthers. Continued to play capably in his return, and even got the team back to the playoffs in 2016, until hip problems caught up to him in 2018-19, which led to his retirement and, ironically, one last chapter in the aforementioned soap opera with the Canucks.note  Has a hilarious self-deprecatingTwitter account.
  • Ryan Miller: Goalie for the Ducks (formerly Canucks) and Team USA. Has made an art of stealing, or at least keeping 'em in games his teams might have no business being in. Comes from a hockey family out of Lansing, Michigan: his brother Drew plays for Detroit, cousins Kevin, Kelly, and Kip (all brothers) are retired NHLers, and all five starred for Michigan State. Holds the most wins by an American-born goalie in NHL history.
  • Antti Niemi: Goalie for the Canadiens (formerly several other teams). Notable for having helped the Blackhawks to the trophy in 2010; and for being in the rare position of winning a Cup, being released by the winning team, and signing with the team he helped beat to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Also notable for being something of a Memetic Badass, for his rather acrobatic butterfly goaltending — at one point during the 2011 playoffs he wound up playing while standing on his head, literally during several shots.
  • Tim Thomas: Panthers goalie, former goalie for the Bruins who helped them win the Cup in 2011. Fifth goaltender and only second American player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP. Known for making lots of ridiculously hard saves and a very unorthodox playing style. Didn't actually become a starting goalie in the NHL until he was well into his thirties, having played in Europe and minor leagues over the years. Also known for his controversial opinions on the federal government and refusing to meet Barack Obama.note 
  • Patrick Roy: Revolutionized the goaltending position in the '80s with a new butterfly style to stop low shots. Is considered one of the best goalies when the game is on the line, and has an uncanny knack to dominate playoff overtime. Among Montreal fans, he shares a reputation with Ken Dryden (see below) as a brilliant young goaltender who left the team when he was at the top of his game.note  One of the fiercest competitors ever to play. In 2013, he was hired as Colorado's new coach, and led them back to both the playoffs and a division title.
  • Ken Dryden: As with Patrick Roy, Dryden was a former Hab who was a skilled goalie and left the team too soon when he was in his prime. He left the Canadiens (and the NHL) after only seven seasons over a contract dispute, and used the time to study law at McGill University in Montreal. Since retiring from hockey, in addition to being a lawyer, Dryden became an author and businessman, and was elected to Parliament in 2004 in a Toronto riding as a Liberal Party candidate. He served as a member for seven years until he lost to a Conservative candidate, Mark Adair, in the 2011 election. A skilled orator and writer, as one would expect from a lawyer and politician, yet his Creepy Monotone voice often results in accusations of being boring.
  • Dominik Hašek: "The Dominator". The goalie most known for his stint with Buffalo in the '90s. Often stuck on Buffalo teams that were no better than OK but still managed to challenge Roy and Brodeur as the best goalie in the NHL year after year. If you ever hear, "How in the world did he do that?" during a broadcast, chances are they're talking about Hašek making a save — if Jacques Plante is the Beethoven of goalies, Hašek is the Miles Davis. Went on to win two Stanley Cups with Detroit. Won the Vezina Trophy for best goalie six times, a record for its current criteria. He's also the only goalie to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP twice. Not to mention that he also pretty much willed the Czech Republic to Olympic gold in 1998.
  • Glenn Hall: Nicknamed "Mr. Goalie" during his career for his skill at his position. Habitually vomited before most games, but still managed to play 502 consecutive games once, a record for a goalie that will almost certainly never be broken (even the best goalies now will sit about ten or fifteen games a season). He's the one who actually invented the butterfly style of goaltending before Patrick Roy made it famous.
  • Ron Hextall: Best known for his years in Philadelphia, Hextall changed the way goalies played by his willingness to come out of the net (way out of the net) and aggressively pass the puck forward instead of stopping it or guiding it to the side for a teammate to pick up. He was the first goaltender in NHL history to score a goal deliberately (instead of getting credit for the goal by being the last player to touch the puck before the opposing team screwed up and scored on their own net). Also well known for using his stick as an axe on opposing players' legs and even fighting. Currently General Manager of the Flyers.
  • Marc-André Fleury: Former goalie for the Penguins, now of the Vegas Golden Knights. Known for being very flexible and able to make amazing saves, particularly the save on Alex Ovechkin during Game 7 of the 2009 Eastern Semifinals which was a major turning point in the game that led to the Pens absolutely dominating the Caps. He also had a memorable save in the final seconds of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, literally jumping to the side of the net à la a Secret Service man taking the bullet for the President. Despite that, he had some really bad moments in the 2013 playoffs, and the Pens only won in 2016 and 2017 by putting Matt Murray as the starter. But then Fleury went to the recently created Golden Knights, and had stellar performances that led the team to the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Henrik Lundqvist: King Henrik, goalie for the Rangers. Hails from Sweden and led the national team to Olympic Gold at the 2006 Torino Games. Well known amongst fans and throughout the league for being not only be really really good, but being really, really attractive, to the point that few fans and even other players haven't fallen into moments of Stupid Sexy Flanders upon seeing him without a mask, including a Swedish Princess if rumors are true.
  • Ilya Bryzgalov: Russian-born goaltender for the Flyers who previously won the Cup with Anaheim in 2007. Became the Breakout Character in the 2011–12 edition of 24/7 which showed the entire hockey world his happy-go-lucky, philosophic self, at least until his play started hitting a slump at which point the world also saw a much more jaded and cynical side. It's not hard to draw comparisons between him and a certain Russian well known on this very wiki.
  • Tom Barrasso: American-born goaltender who, despite his good start with the Buffalo Sabres, is much better known for his stint with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Stepped up into the big leagues at the age of 18, a feat that has hardly been equaled ever since, and proved to be one of the best marquee goalies of his time thanks to his impressive agility and stick-handling skills and became the first American goalie to amass 300 wins. He's currently mentoring Cam Ward as the Carolina Hurricanes' goaltending coach.
  • Grant Fuhr: Drafted eighth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 1981, Fuhr would become one of the best goalies in the 1980s while playing alongside Andy Moog and later Bill Ranford. In the later stages of his career, he fought against injuries and substance abuse problems, but he still managed to obtain 403 victories in his career. He holds the current NHL record for 76 consecutive starts and 79 appearances in 1995–96 with the St. Louis Blues.
  • Jean-Sébastien Giguère: The last remaining Hartford Whaler in the league before his retirement, his early career wasn't all that notable, with a few appearances for Hartford and the Calgary Flames. But then he was traded to Anaheim and became a steel wall. Thanks to his efforts, the Mighty Ducks were able to advance to the Finals, defeating the heavily-favored Detroit Red Wings and featuring a 63-save triple-overtime performance (a record for a playoff debut) followed by a five-overtime victory over Dallas a few days later, and then holding the Minnesota Wild to almost 220 minutes without allowing a goal, all of which earned Giguère the Conn Smythe Trophy despite Anaheim's defeat by the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals. Continued his winning ways and eventually did win a Cup with Anaheim in 2007. He stayed with the Ducks for a few years, then was traded to the Maple Leafs for one, before finally ending up in Colorado, eventually retiring with the Avalanche in 2014.
  • John Gibson: Gibson's career started with him being made backup to Frederik Andersen of the Anaheim Ducks, before an injury to Andersen allowed him to step in and claim the Number One spot. Then Gibson got injured and Andersen came back in, and then Ilya Bryzgalov was signed, to add to the fun of figuring out who the Ducks' goaltending staff would be. Of the three, Gibson emerged as the Ducks Number One goaltender after the 2015 season, which saw a run by the Ducks to the Western Conference Final, helped along by Andersen and Gibson, though Andersen was traded to Toronto for Jonathan Bernier, leaving Gibson as the starter. Gibson has since become one of many top-notch goalies in the league, making an All-Star appearance in 2016 and being one of the driving forces behind Anaheim's 2017 run to the Western Conference Final, before an injury sidelined him before the Nashville Predators series.
  • Andy Moog: Rising up as a goaltender with the Oilers, Moog showed a lot of moxie while splitting time with Grant Fuhr, even managing to win one of the Stanley Cup titles for Edmonton in the 1984 playoffs. He would then be traded to the Boston Bruins for Bill Ranford and cemented his reputation as one of the best of his position. Considered to be The Habs Killer due to being able to beat the Montreal Canadiens most of the times they met in the playoffs.note  He's considered to have the scariest goalie mask in history (though it's since been given a run by the Bruins' current starting goalie, Tuukka Rask).
  • Ed Belfour: Known as Eddie The Eagle thanks to his emblematic mask that always sported an eagle in every team he's played with, Belfour is considered one of the best goalies of all time. Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks, Belfour would come up with one of the best seasons for a rookie in 1990–91 by obtaining 43 victories, 2.47 GAA and four shutouts and took them to the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals, only to be swept by the Mario Lemieux-led Penguins. Tensions between him and backup goalie Jeff Hackett led him to be dealt to the San Jose Sharks and later he landed to the Dallas Stars, where he helped them win the Stanley Cup in 1999 against the Buffalo Sabres. He was also known as Crazy Eddie due to his drunken anticsnote  and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.
  • Jonathan Quick: Goalie for Los Angeles whose last name is as meaningful as it is punny; he became the third American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy when the Kings won the Cup in 2012. A very talented goalie whose only problem is that media-wise, he's overshadowed by other goaltenders such as Lundqvist, Fleury, Kiprusoff, Miller, and others. Being on the West Coast doesn't help, but the 2011–12 season as well as his performance in the playoffs helped highlight his skill. Many people believe he's a huge reason why Los Angeles made the playoffs. Provided several Funny Moments during the media blitz following the Kings' Cup victory both from putting away enough booze to rival the league's most infamous Hard-Drinking Party Girl Patrick Kane, and for the Precision F Strikes he threw out during interviews that went completely uncensored on national television … twice.
  • Pekka Rinne: Finnish goalie of the Nashville Predators and one of the best in the business. Very tall (6'5" — 1.96m) and with tremendous reach but still very quick on his feet and agile despite his size. Has been a Vezina Trophy finalist three times, winning it in 2018. His outstanding play — coupled with some excellent blueliners — has allowed the offensively challenged Predators to become a regular guest in the playoffs during the last few years, and was even one of the driving forces behind their 2017 Stanley Cup Finals run. One of the very late draft picks (round 8, pick #258 in 2004) to make it into a bona fide All-Star. Has since become a Memetic Badass around the league thanks to being "too good right now." Also, as of 9 January 2020, the most recent goaltender to score a goal (and only the twelfth goaltender to do so.
  • Tuukka Rask: Another Finnish elite goaltender and current starting netminder of the Boston Bruins. After being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs he got traded to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft (which proved to be a bad deal for the Leafs) early and has served mostly as a backup to two-time Vezina winner Tim Thomas for most of his career. The lockout-shortened 2012–13 season saw him emerge as the full-time starter — aided by Thomas taking a sabbatical — and by all accounts he did an amazing job. Rask backstopped the Bruins to within two wins of a Stanley Cup win and got a massive contract soon after. Very competitive and prone to hilarious temper tantrums when things aren't going his way.
  • Corey Crawford: AKA Crow, the current Blackhawks goalie. After many years as a backup, became the starting goalie in 2011, and despite a disappointing season in 2012, ended up being crucial in their 2013 Stanley Cup run (and like Quick, ended up swearing on national TV!)). The following years, Crow had a few below-average nights, but has often got incredible playoff performances — including the 2015 title run, leading to another Precision F-Strike.
  • Ben Bishop: Goalie for the Dallas Stars. Tallest player ever to play the position in the NHL (6'7" — 2.01m), which consequently has earned him the nickname "Big Ben". Bishop spent most of his career since 2008 in either the minor leagues or as backup goalie for the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators before being dealt to Tampa Bay at the 2013 trade deadline. The 2013–14 season saw him emerge as the full-time starter for the first time in his career, and it went well. He led the Lightning to their first postseason appearance in four years and earned himself a Vezina Trophy nod. Ended up in an unfortunate case of Overshadowed by Awesome (or, in Bishop's case, more awesome) towards the end of his career with the Lightning courtesy of up-and-coming goaltender Andrei Vasilevsky, ultimately resulting in his departure to Los Angeles in 2017.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky: Current goaltender for the Florida Panthers, after spending most of his career in Columbus. Started as the Flyers' backup goalie before being traded to Columbus prior to the 2013 half-season, after which he promptly Took a Level in Badass; he has since been integral to the Jackets becoming serious contenders after years of being the league Butt-Monkey. Has a notable bromance with teammate Nick Foligno, and fans look forward to their celebratory hugs after each victory. Has the interesting Fan Nickname "#1 Cop on the Force" courtesy of sports presenter Jay Onrait, who thought Bobrovsky's name sounded like a cop from a 70's cop film. As one can see here
  • Carey Price: Current number-one goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. Drafted in 2005, he took the reins of the Montreal net as a rookie in 2008 after Cristobal Huet was traded away. Early on he faced criticism from many in the passionate Montreal fandom, especially during and after the 2009–10 season when Jaroslav Halak gave an amazing performance to lead the Canadiens on a Cinderella run to the Eastern Conference finals, after which Price was given the starter role again, with Halak traded to St. Louis. Since then, however, he has silenced the majority of his critics, with several fantastic seasons, capped off with backstopping Canada to a gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and, in 2014–15, guiding an otherwise rather mediocre Habs team to the second-best record in the NHL while putting up ridiculously good numbers (93.3% of shots saved, 1.96 GAA) and 44 wins, a record number on a team with over 100 years of history.

    Coaches, executives and other people 
  • Frederick Arthur Stanley: Lord Stanley of Preston (1841–1908), the sixth Governor-General of Canada (serving 1888–93). An English aristocrat from a very old family, he had a significant career in British politics before being appointed viceroy. Once in Canada, he quickly came to love the country and became particularly passionate about its favourite sport, ice hockey. Desiring to raise the standard of the Canadian hockey match, he purchased the original trophy that came to bear his name, the Stanley Cup, in 1892, to be awarded to the champion of Canadian hockey. However Stanley never actually saw the Cup awarded, as he returned home to England prior to its first awarding in 1893; after his older brother, the 15th Earl of Derby, had died childless, Lord Stanley became the 16th Earl and had to leave to take his seat in the Lords and manage the family estate. The Stanley Cup was originally a challenge cup among amateur teams, but became a professional championship in the 1910s, and the de facto championship trophy of the NHL after 1926.
  • Peter Pocklington: owner of the Edmonton Oilers from 1978 to 1998, he brought Wayne Gretzky to the team; put his father's name on the 1983–84 Stanley Cup (an accident, he claims); traded Gretzky to Los Angeles for two players, three draft picks, and $15 million in 1988; and had to sell the team after falling into bankruptcy. He is not liked in Edmonton.
  • Don Cherry: Former coach of the Boston Bruins during the '70s and early '80s who went on to become the longtime host of Hockey Night in Canada's Coach's Corner segment until being fired in November 2019 after making on-air remarks that questioned the patriotism of recent immigrants to Canada. Best known for his flamboyant dress style and propensity to say controversial things which at times lands him in hot water. note note  Coach's Corner has also been subject to a seven-second delay in the past due to Cherry's controversial nature. Cherry himself played only one game in the NHL (a playoff game with the Bruins in 1955), but had played on three AHL teams, the Hershey Bears (the oldest pro hockey team currently in existence outside the NHL Original Six, and yes, it's owned by the chocolate company), the Rochester Americans (also known as the Amerks), and the Springfield Indians. Earned the nickname "Hot Lips Don" in a 1993 playoff game when he kissed Doug Gilmour, then of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Incidentally, they were both born in Kingston, Ontario.
  • Gary Bettman: Current NHL Commissioner (in fact, its first Commissioner; previously there were Presidents). Spearheaded the league's push into nontraditional markets (new franchises in Nashville, Atlanta and Las Vegas, as well as movement of teams southwardnote ). Has generated a lot of detractors from fans accusing him of being anti-Canadian, having blocked several attempts to move financially struggling franchises in Nashville, Pittsburgh, and Arizona; however, he allowed the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, satisfying his pie-in-the-sky dream of keeping the Coyotes (the original Winnipeg Jets) in Arizona and fulfilling Winnipeg's desire to return to the NHL with the consequence of repeating history and alienating fans in Atlanta.note  He is also accused of being generally detrimental to the sport with three labour stoppages, including the cancellation of the entire 2004–05 season, and the subsequent move of games from ESPN to the NBC Sports Network (formerly Outdoor Life and later Versus) due to the latter's much less extensive exposure. Amongst the fandom, particularly Canadians, Bettman is so reviled that some people believe he actually plays up his more hated traits just to get a rise out of the fans and keep people interested. It's gotten to the point where it is considered a league tradition to boo the commissioner at every public appearance he makes, from the entry draft all the way to presenting the Stanley Cup.
  • Scotty Bowman: winningest coach in the league's history (1244 regular season wins, 223 playoff wins). Won nine Stanley Cups as a coach with three different teams (Canadiens, Penguins, and Red Wings), and coached the St. Louis Blues to three consecutive Cup appearances from 1968–70. Currently the Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for the Blackhawks. Was recently awarded the Order of Canada (basically, he's a Canadian knight).
  • Al Arbour: hockey's third winningest coach (782 regular season wins, 123 playoff wins). Holds the record for most wins with one team (740). Best known as coach of the dynasty New York Islanders, but he also won Stanley Cups as a player with the Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Maple Leafs, and was captain of Scotty Bowman's St. Louis Blues.
  • The Sutter Family: Six brothers from Viking, Alberta that have played in the NHL for a combined total of over 5,000 games — Darryl, Duane, Brian, Brent, and twins Ron and Rich. These six men have all said their older brother, Gary, was better at hockey than any of them… he just chose to stay at home and help operate the family farm. Several have gone on to coach in the league as well (with Darryl leading both of the Kings titles). The second generation of Sutters are breaking into the NHL as well, with Brandon (son of Brent), Brody (son of Duane) and Brett (son of Darryl) having played at the top level, and several more possibly on the way in coming years.
  • Lou Lamoriello: Was the Team President and General Manager of the New Jersey Devils, and in his very first year with them, the Devils Took a Level in Badass and were one win away from going to their first Stanley Cup Finals in the 1987–88 season. In the following 18 years, built a franchise with three titles, two other finals, only three missed playoffs before a rut starting in 2013, and plenty of smart drafting — most notably Martin Brodeur, who was passed by almost every team and went on to hold several league records. One of the drafters of the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement, that brought the NHL back from a cancelled season. Current GM of the Maple Leafs, hoping finally to kick-start that franchise's resurgence.
  • Howie Meeker: A former player and TV commentator who became more famous as a children's educator in the sport with TV shows and books devoted to teaching the game. He also was a strong advocate for better-quality kids' safety equipment in the sport.
  • Jack Edwards: Play-by-play announcer for the Bruins on NESN, known for his enthusiastic commentary. A former SportsCenter anchor, he also participated in ESPN's NHL coverage in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  • Roger Neilson: Coach of the Maple Leafs, Sabres, Canucks, Kings, Rangers, Panthers (their first coach ever), Flyers, and Senators (for just two games). Sadly passed away from cancer in 2003. Infamous for his bending of the rules, such as putting a defenseman in goal for a penalty shot, who could legally leave the goal and check the other guy, and having goalies block the net with their stick when they were pulled. While in Toronto, he was fired and rehired by the team owner on a whim late in the 1978–79. While in Vancouver, he innovated the Towel Power tradition (fans waving towels) when he stuck a white towel on the end of a player's stick and waved it as a mock surrender flag as a symbol of his disgust with the officiating in the game during the 1982 playoffs.
  • The Staal Brothers: Four brothers from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Three of them were signed with the Carolina Hurricanes at one point (Eric, Jordan, and Jared), and in 2016, the family business remained as Eric went to join Marc with the Rangers.
    • Eric, the oldest brother, was a part of the Carolina Hurricanes for a decade, helping their 2006 Stanley Cup win and becoming team captain. Traded to Marc's Rangers in 2016 then joined the Minnesota Wild that summer.
    • Marc, the second oldest and only defenceman of the four, has played his whole career for the New York Rangers. Got to the 2014 Final, but lost to the Kings.
    • Jordan was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins and won the Stanley Cup with them in 2009, becoming a fan favorite even compared to superstar teammates Crosby and Malkin, before being traded to Carolina in the 2012 offseason. Interestingly, he started playing in the NHL a year before his older brother Marc.
    • Jared is the youngest brother. He was originally drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes but was traded to Carolina in 2010. Has not yet become an NHL regular, so he has not yet been able to play in a game with Eric. Currently stuck in the minor leagues.
  • Brendan Shanahan: Already well-known by hockey fans for his time as a player (1,354 points and three Stanley Cups won with Detroit), Shanahan became a rather polarizing figure in 2011 when he replaced Colin Campbell as the league's disciplinarian. As opposed to Campbell, who gained much criticism for punishing some incidents and letting many others slide, Shanahan's agenda seemed to be to hand out suspensions for absolutely everything (which, given that he earned 2,489 penalty minutes as a player, has opened up the Hypocritical Humor gate). Before long, half the fans were complaining that he was even worse than Campbell, and the other half argued that he was exactly what the game needed. Shanahan is also a firm defier of New Media Are Evil as he appeared in online videos explaining every suspension he handed out in detail, so fans weren't scratching their heads wondering about his application of the rules. Left his NHL post at the end of the 2013–14 season to become president (effectively overseeing all hockey operations) of the Maple Leafs.
  • Mike 'Doc' Emrick: Widely regarded as the best play-by-play commentator in the sport, and, to some, in all of sports. Has a unique vocabulary, and knows just about everything there is to know about hockey. Was born and raised in Indiana, a state known for its basketball rather than its hockey, and is a noted fan of baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates. Nickname comes from the doctorate he earned at Bowling Green State University. Has won the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Play-by-Play for his work at NBC Sports an astounding eight times, in 2011 (for work in 2010), and has currently an ongoing winning streak of SEVEN YEARS. Emrick also became the first hockey announcer to win the National Sports Media Association'snote  National Sportscaster of the Year Award, doing so for his work in 2013. He would win the award the following two years, and be inducted into the association's hall of fame in 2019. He was the Hockey Hall of Fame's 2008 recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, which is given to broadcasters who have had exceptional careers in ice hockey. Emrick retired at the end of the 2019–20 season.
  • Brian Burke, former GM of the Leafs, Canucks and Hartford Whalers (now Carolina Hurricanes), who, along with his son Patrick, has become the most outspoken voice for LGBT equality in professional sports. His other son, Brendan, was openly gay, working as a manager for Miami Universitynote  and had made efforts to end homophobia in the sport before dying in a car crash in 2010. In his honor, Blackhawks defenseman and personal friend Brent Sopel carried The Stanley Cup in Chicago's pride parade that year. In 2012, the Burkes founded the You Can Play campaign, which seeks to emphasize to young athletes that sexuality has no bearing on their ability to excel at the sport, and that if you can play … you can play. So far support for the campaign has been overwhelming with dozens of big name players contributing videos.
  • Harold 'Pal Hal' Ballard: The GM and owner of the Maple Leafs beginning in the 1971–72 season until his death in 1990. Was a penny-pincher who was stridently anti-union (which irked Leafs fan favorites Darryl Sittler and Hap Day), refused to hire any Europeans, and was notoriously rude, selfish, and insulting. He made misogynistic comments in an interview with beloved CBC host Barbara Frum on As It Happened and destroyed Foster Hewitt's broadcasting booth at Maple Leaf Gardens, where he coined phrases forever associated with the hockey vernacular such as "He shoots! He scores!" and "slapshot", when the Hockey Hall of Fame wanted to preserve it. He also got into a battle with new league president John Ziegler in 1978, when the league added a rule requiring player names on the backs of jerseys; when Ziegler threatened heavy fines for the Leafs' noncompliance, Ballard had blue letters added to the blue jerseys for a couple of games, before being allowed to have the Leafs finish the season with no names on their backs, so long as they complied for the next season (they did).
  • John A. Ziegler Jr.: President of the league from 1977–92. In a spectacular backfire on Ballard's part, Ziegler, a Red Wings executive, was his pick to succeed Clarence Campbell. The perceived favorite for the job, Flyers owner Ed Snider, favored merger talks with the WHA, and Ballard believed that he could get Ziegler to keep the WHA out. Ziegler almost immediately opened up merger negotiations, and went after Ballard to boot (see above). Ziegler also fought to keep the North Stars in Minnesota, opting to give the team owners an expansion franchise in San Jose instead of relocating the team (and thus beginning the modern expansion era). He was ousted following the 1992 players' strike, leading to the owners eliminating the position of president and creating the office of the commissioner.
  • Bill and Rocky Wirtz: Father and son, former and current owner of the Blackhawks. The former was usually blamed for the team's 47-year Cup drought, being considered a cheapskate (hence the nickname "Dollar Bill"), engineering the 1994 lockout and doing unpopular acts such as blacking out local TV broadcasts. But once his son took over, Rocky soon revived the team, bringing a new fanbase and three Stanley Cups.
  • Jeremy Jacobs: Owner of the Boston Bruins since 1975. While fans complimented his rebuild of the team in the late 2000s, including the first Cup in 39 years, he had previously earned hatred for the team's decay, and subsequently for his participation on the 2012 lockout.
  • Joel Quenneville: Current head coach of the Florida Panthers, who earned his name coaching the Chicago Blackhawks; passing Al Arbour to become the second-winningest coach in NHL history in 2016. He previously had stints with the Avalanche and Blues but has led the Hawks to three Stanley Cups in six years. His mustache is legendary among fans and lent credence to the theory that you cannot win a championship in Chicago if you are clean-shaven.note note  However, after a downward spiral from the Blackhawks making plenty of poor offseason decisions, Quenneville was fired in a move widely regarded as a face-saving measure by 'Hawks front office staff, and the Panthers were quick to snatch him up.
  • John Tortorella: Current coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He got his start as the coach who first helped bring Tampa bay to their first Stanley Cup win ever. Tortorella, or "Torts" as he is known, has become both famous and infamous for his fiery personality, and especially blunt and entertaining press conferences that are often quite profane. He's well-known for either having the entire team he's coaching love him for his eccentricities and hard-competing ways, but also for alienating veteran players, including popular and..well...GOOD players at that, which made him infamous in his brief season or two in Vancouver, for his outbursts and continued struggles.
  • Mike Babcock: Largely viewed as the best head coach in the league since Scotty Bowman's retirement, Babcock has lead teams to the Stanley Cup Finals 3 times, in 2003 with the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and then in back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009 with Bowman's Detroit Red Wings, winning it all in 2008. He has also had international success, winning gold medals at all 3 major levels, World Juniors, World Championships and Olympics, the latter two of which, along with his Stanley Cup, makes him the only head coach in the famed Triple Gold Club. Left the Wings after the 2014-15 season willingly, an almost unheard of case where a major league coach left a team without being fired or retiring, to join his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. In 25 years as a head coach, including 8 years in the Western Hockey League and 2 years in the American Hockey League, his teams have missed the playoffs a total of 4 times note . However, as time went on, the Leafs began experiencing issues, inevitably ending in his firing, were plenty of dirty laundry about his style, such as psychological manipulations and his seeming inability to not piss off veteran players, were revealed.
  • Gritty: Not a coach, a player, or even an executive, but a mascot. Inarguably the most famous mascot in the league, Gritty debuted to be the mascot of the Flyers in 2018 to almost instant fame due to just how bizarre he was; a giant orange furred muppet thing with a manic smile and googly eyes, and quickly became known for his similarly bizarre social media presence, his stunts at NHL eventsnote , and most fittingly, an actual criminal investigation over possibly punching a child... then getting out of it.
  • Youppi!: Another mascot who was arguably the league's most famous until Gritty came along. Like Gritty, Youppi! is a giant orange-furred muppet thing, although his fur is noticeably lighter-shaded, and he has a more rounded face with a distinct neck. He's been a fixture in the Montreal sports scene since 1979, though he started out as the mascot of the Montreal Expos. During his tenure with the Expos, he was hugely popular, especially with kids, and also became the first mascot ever thrown out of a Major League Baseball game. After the Expos left for Washington at the end of the 2004 season, Youppi!'s future hung in the balance, with multiple groups vying for rights to the creature. Finally, the Canadiens announced shortly before the 2005–06 season that they had bought the rights and would make Youppi! their official mascot. He's since made the Mascot Hall of Fame (yes, there is such an institution!), becoming the first mascot of a Canadian team so honoured.

Historical footnotes

  • In the three major North American sports leagues (or the "Big Two Sportsand Hockey", if you prefer) that have a best-of-seven playoff series format (the others being the NBA and Major League Baseball), a team has come back from being down three games to none to win the series only five times—otherwise known as a Reverse Sweep. Four of them have been in the NHL (the fifth being the 2004 Boston Red Sox over the New York Yankees):
    • The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings in this manner to win the Stanley Cup, after Detroit head coach Jack Adams was suspended midway through the series.
    • The New York Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1975 Quarterfinals, and fell just short of repeating the feat against the Philadelphia Flyers in the following round.note 
    • The 2010 Philadelphia Flyers did this to the Boston Bruins in the Conference Semifinals, and to top it off, even spotted the Bruins the first three goals of Game 7, only to win that game by a score of 4–3. They defeated the Montreal Canadiens in five games in the Conference finals shortly after, then lost the Stanley Cup Final in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.
    • The Los Angeles Kings did this in the 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinals against the San Jose Sharks. They hoisted the Cup over the New York Rangers three rounds later.


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Alternative Title(s): NHL


The Caps' Legacy of Failure

An excerpt from "The Washington Capitals: A Legacy of Failure" covering the 2011 to 2015 postseasons. Note that, after the video was released, the Capitals won the 2018 Stanley Cup.

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Main / EveryYearTheyFizzleOut

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Main / EveryYearTheyFizzleOut