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"It's a great day for hockey."
"Badger" Bob Johnson

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the top-level professional Ice Hockey league in North America, and is the fifth wealthiest sports league in the world.note  Founded in 1917, it is currently composed of 32 teams: 25 in the United States and seven in Canada, with the Seattle Kraken as the league's newest franchise. The Stanley Cup represents the league's championship, and is the oldest such trophy in North America; traditionally, each member of the championship team obtains possession of Lord Stanley's Bowl for a day, and due to this it has had some rather 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. The 2021 Winter Classic was cancelled for obvious reasons and rescheduled for the 2022 season.

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, take the equipment off, 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

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Red is the Western Conference, Blue is the Eastern Conference. Different shades represent divisions.
Map of NHL teams in the 2024- 25 season
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 and Northeast division for East, Pacific and Central for West). Another realignment at the start of the 1998-99 season moved the league to a six division format, adding the Southeast division to the East and the Northwest division to the West. Yet 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 was reduced to 56 games, and the teams' schedules were 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 . The alignment for the 2021-22 season was determinant on the Canadian government either relaxing or maintaining its cross-border travel restrictions. With border restrictions lifted, the league reverted back to the pre-pandemic alignment (with Arizona moving to the Central Division and Seattle taking their slot in the Pacific Division); however, some of the Canadian clubs wanted the temporary alignment to become permanent, but with the league going to 32 teams, it would've meant one of the three American divisions would have 9 teams.

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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. Spiritual Successor to the Adams Division.

Boston Bruins

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Year Established: 1924
Nicknames: The B's, the Black and Gold, the Big Bad Bruins
Colors: Black, gold
Home Arena: TD Garden (since 1995)
Stanley Cups: 6; 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 20 total; 1927, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2013, 2019
Presidents' Trophies: 4; 1989–90, 2013–14, 2019–20, 2022–23

The Boston Bruins: the first NHL team south of the border. Famous former players include Bobby Orr, Cam Neely and Ray Bourque. Has one of the most dangerous top lines in the league- the 'Perfection Line' consisting of current captain 'Perfect' Patrice Bergeron, David 'Pasta' Pastrňák, and Brad 'Universally Despised' Marchand. 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. Former 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. In 2022–23, they set league records for most wins (65!) and points (135) in a season, and tied the record for most road wins (31)...but couldn't sustain that momentum past Game Four of the first round and blew a 3-1 series lead to the Panthers, being eliminated in overtime of Game Seven. Have won more titles than any other American team but Detroit, but they also have lost the most titles in NHL history with 14 (recently losing the Cup to the rival Blues in 2019), surpassing Detroit's losses (13). They REALLY hate Montrealnote , nor do they like the other remaining Original 6 teamsnote , they have a mild dislike of the Philadelphia Flyersnote , they also don't like the St. Louis Bluesnote  and they also dislike the Tampa Bay Lightning note ; in fact, they are in the running for the most hated team in the NHL up there with the Toronto Maple Leafs note .

Buffalo Sabres

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Year Established: 1970
Colors: Royal blue, gold, white
Home Arena: KeyBank Center (since 1996)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 2; 1975, 1999
Presidents' Trophies: 1; 2006–07

The 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). Were owned by John Rigas, co-founder of regional cable company Adelphia beginning in 1997; Rigas and his sons then got busted for wide-ranging embezzlement in 2002, causing Adelphia to go into freefall and eventually collapse (their assets later dispersed among other cable companies), nearly taking the Sabres down with them in the process (and they did take the Empire Sports Network down; the Sabres later struck a deal with the MSG Network for a Buffalo-specific feed with Sabres games). Some of the money Rigas stole from Adelphia was actually used to help keep the Sabres afloat as the team struggled under his ownership. The Sabres were a ward of the league for a season before billionaire Tom Golisano and former Sabres president Larry Quinn stepped in (they sold out in 2010 to another billionaire, Terry Pegula). 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 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  Attendance has dropped accordingly, falling below 10,000 per game for the first time since their inaugural season (when their arena only held around 12,000 people before it was expanded in the off-season and eventually replaced in 1996), while some of this can be attributed to COVID border restrictionsnote  it's mainly people deciding that money that would go to overpriced hockey tickets would be better spent elsewhere. They would experience a near resurgence in 2022-23 where they were above .500 for a good chunk of the season, but would lose the final playoff spot to the Islanders (setting a league record for missing the playoffs as a result).

Detroit Red Wings

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Year Established: 1926
Prior Names/Locations: Detroit Cougars (1926-1930), Detroit Falcons (1930-1932)
Colors: Red, white
Home Arena: Little Caesars Arena (since 2017)
Stanley Cups: 11; 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 24 total; 1934, 1941, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1949, 1956, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1995, 2009
Presidents' Trophies: 6; 1994–95, 1995–96, 2001–02, 2003–04, 2005–06, 2007–08

The Detroit Red Wings: the team of Steve Yzerman, The Captain for 20 years (a league record) and current general manager, and Gordie Howe, the all-time leading scorer of the Original Six era who was also noted for his physical playnote . 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)note . However, the Red Wings remained competitive in the salary cap era, going on to win the Stanley Cup in 2008 (note ), proving that there is more to their success than simply throwing a lot of cash around (note ). 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 tradition started in 1952, when the Wings swept both series for a perfect 8-0 record). The feelings between them and Chicago are mutual (even moreso now that the Red Wings are no longer in the same conference with their former rivals), but Detroit fans tend to have more creative chants. The Wings opened what was then the league's newest arena, Little Caesars Arena,note  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 2019-20 season was delayed indefinitely. They have the 2nd most Cup losses in League history with 13 (trailing the Bruins by 1 note .)

Florida Panthers

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Year Established: 1993
Colors: Red, blue, flat gold, white
Home Arena: Amerant Bank Arena (since 1998)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 2; 1996, 2023
Presidents' Trophies: 1; 2021–22

The 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 note . After that, there hasn't been much for them; their berth in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs was 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 until 2022, in-between crashing in Round 1 in 6 sparse appearances. Named after an endangered cougar. Their arena also has a multiple personality disorder, having gone through six different names in fifteen years.note  They really don't like Tampa Bay, a fact made worse by the fact that Lightning fans tend to look at the Panthers as an annoying little brother rather than an actual rival. This mindset was initially reinforced in the early 2020s - even as the Panthers finally became consistent playoff contenders, including the President's Trophy in the 2021-22 season, they found themselves overshadowed by the Lightning's run of Finals appearances and Stanley Cups, including losses to Tampa in the First Round of 2021 and the Second Round of 2022.note  2023 finally flipped the script - while the regular season was a struggle that ended with them barely securing the second Wild Card, they used that spot to make another Cinderella Finals run, where they would lose to the Vegas Golden Knights in 5 games.

Montreal Canadiens

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Year Established: 1909
Year Joined NHL: 1917
Nicknames: The Habs, Les Habitants, La Sainte-Flanelle
Colors: Red, white, blue
Home Arena: Bell Centre (since 1996)
Stanley Cups: 24; 1916note , 1924, 1930, 1931, 1944, 1946, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1993
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 35 total; 1917note , 1919note , 1925, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1967, 1989, 2021
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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 who have 3 more championships than the Habs. Also the last Canadian team to win the Cup (1993, which was the same year that hated Commissioner Gary Bettman took over the league), in which they bested the Gretzky-led Kings in 5 games, their Cup win actually set off riots throughout Montreal following their victory note . 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. In the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs they managed to pull of a miraculous Cinderella run where, despite coming 18th in the regular season and only barely making it into the postseason, they beat a heavily favored Maple Leafs team (who won 11 more games in the regular season and opened 3-1 on the series before collapsing), swept the Jets, who swept the equally favourited Oilers, and managed to beat the Golden Knights, who have been favourites to win the Cup ever since they entered the league. This not only led to their first Finals appearance since 1993, but it also led to the first time a Canadian team made it to the Finals in ten years, though it sadly ended in disappointment when they lost to the defending champions Tampa Bay Lightning in 5 games.note  Still, the following season was a massive regression, finishing last overall.

Ottawa Senators

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Year Established: 1992
Nicknames: The Sens
Colors: Black, red, gold, white
Home Arena: Canadian Tire Centre (since 1996)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 1; 2007
Presidents' Trophies: 1; 2002–03

The 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, no matter if a constantly underachieving.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

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Year Established: 1992
Nicknames: The Bolts
Colors: Tampa Bay blue, white, black
Home Arena: Amalie Arena (since 1996)
Stanley Cups: 3; 2004, 2020, 2021
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 5 total; 2015, 2022
Presidents' Trophies: 1; 2018–19

The Tampa Bay Lightning: AKA the Bolts. Currently the Southernmost team to win the Cup, having won in 2004, 2020, and 2021, although all three had some form of controversy attached.note  They were the first attempt to market hockey in a former Confederate state since the Atlanta Flames (who moved to Calgary), and helped 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 quickly turned heads in their first year by having the first female goalie in NHL history in Manon Rhéaume! They were first led by star players such as Vincent Lecavalier (drafted in 1998 during the Bolts' Dark Ages note ), Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards early in the 2000s, later helping lead the Bolts to their first Stanley Cup in 2004. However the NHL lockout happened shortly after which wiped out the entire 04-05 Season preventing the Bolts from properly defending their crown (leading to a brief Audience-Alienating Era that saw them getting bounced early in the playoffs or in some cases nearly missing the playoffs,note ). After drafting Steven Stamkos in 2008 with the #1 pick and Victor Hedman #2 the following year (and the eventual drafting of goalie Andre Vasilevesky and perennial scorers Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point), they started to have stretches of good play in the past decade becoming one of the strongest teams of The New '10s, first including a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 (during Vincent's twilight years) where due to a lack of a permanent goaltender they lost to the eventual Cup winner Bruins in 7 games (note ), then later advancing to their second Stanley Cup final in 2015 (eventually losing to the Blackhawks in 6). They then started having a small period of Every Year They Fizzle Out where they made 2 Conference Finals appearances (note ). But the failure ultimately peaked in 2018-19 where they won the President's Trophy that year while tying the 1995-96 Red Wings for the then-most dominant regular season in NHL history (62 wins!)... only to end up becoming the first ever President's Trophy winners in NHL history to be swept in the first round after losing their series to the Columbus Blue Jackets, led by their former coach John Tortorella who had coached them their first Stanley Cup victory back in 2004 no less, leading many media pundits to question the Bolts' ability to win in the long run. 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, and then their third cup the following year. They then made history in 2022 by making their third straight Cup final appearance in a row! (Becoming the first team to do so in the current Salary Cap Era since Gretzky's legendary 80s Oilers). However their quest for a three-peat ended in heartbreak as they lost to the far more high powered offensive Avalanche team in 6 games note . 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. They outright hate Boston. So much so that their fans will often chant "Fuck Boston!" even if they aren't playing the Bruins. In contrast their in-state rivalry with Florida hasn't been much of a thing and barely gets acknowledged, though it has been heating up in recent years, with the Bolts and Panthers meeting in the playoffs over the last two years, with Tampa Bay winning both times note . They also dislike both of the New York teams, they also hate the Toronto Maple Leafs, note  which has begun to heat up in recent years (both of their respective first round matchups featured lots of fighting between the two clubs and dirty plays from the rival Leafs) and the Montreal Canadiensnote  and have begun to develop (as of their recent Cup loss) a potential new rivalry with the Colorado Avalanche, the 2022-2023 season was a massive regression due to the Cup years and injuries finally taking their toll on the team and they bowed out to the hated Maple Leafs in 6 games.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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Year Established: 1917
Prior Names/Locations: Toronto Arenas (1917-1919), Toronto St. Patricks (1919-1927)
Nicknames: The Leafs, the Buds, the Boys in Blue
Colors: Blue, white
Home Arena: Scotiabank Arena (since 1999)
Stanley Cups: 13; 1918, 1922, 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 21 total; 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1959, 1960
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The Toronto Maple Leafs; known for bad declension,note  being hated by the rest of Canada and all of the United States (especially among Montreal fans), being the most valuable franchise in the league, and not having won the Cup since 1967, which may or may not be due to the lingering effects of their former deceased owner Harold Ballard implying that Ballard placed a curse on the team, (as of 2022 and their First Round defeat at the hands of Tampa Bay, it is now the longest Cup drought in NHL history), or before 2013, a drought of seven seasons not even qualifying for the playoffs, and since 2013, not having won a playoff round since 2004 (ironically enough since 2013:note ), which was finally broken in 2023 when they took out the rival Tampa Bay Lightning in 6 Games. Their rivalry with the Canadiens is the oldest in the league. They hate their provincial rivals, the Ottawa Senators, a lot ever since their rebirth in 1993 (as part of the big wave of The '90s expansion teams) and have kicked them out of the playoffs on multiple occasions, they also despise the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings (due to historic matchups) and are a notable rival of the Buffalo Sabres (due to the teams' close proximity to each other) and have begun a new more hateful rivalry with the Tampa Bay Lightning that has been heating up in recent years. The Toronto Maple Leafs are by 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, they are also tied for being the most hated team in the NHL with the Boston Bruins note . 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 (though they still have yet to win a first round series with said core until 2023), though the young team also picked up a reputation for playing dirty when things don't go their way (especially in the playoffs), leading many opposing fans to hate the Maple Leafs even more. 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, their attempt at changing 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 didn't fly with the league, for obvious logistical reasons.

    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

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Year Established: 1971
Year Joined NHL: 1979
Prior Names/Locations: New England Whalers (1971-1979), Hartford Whalers (1979-1997)
Nicknames: The 'Canes, The Brass Bonanzanote 
Colors: Red, white, gray, black
Home Arena: PNC Arena (since 1999)
Stanley Cups: 1; 2006
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 2 total; 2002
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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 a 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 nine times, but in half of those they made it to at least the third round!

Columbus Blue Jackets

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Year Established: 2000
Colors: Union blue, goal red, capital silver, white
Home Arena: Nationwide Arena (since 2000)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 0
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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

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Year Established: 1974
Prior Names/Locations: Kansas City Scouts (1974-1976), Colorado Rockies (1976-1982)
Nicknames: The Devs
Colors: Red, black, white
Home Arena: Prudential Center (since 2007)
Stanley Cups: 3; 1995, 2000, 2003
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 5 total; 2001, 2012
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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 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 note  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 Islanders

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Year Established: 1972
Nicknames: The Isles, the Fishticksnote 
Colors: Royal blue, orange, white
Home Arena: UBS Arena (since 2021)
Stanley Cups: 4; 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 5 total; 1984
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The New York Islanders: New York's other team. 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  and two surprisingly good runs to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020 and 2021 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 at the time 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 their next stadium, UBS Arena (located right next to the Belmont Park horse track in Elmont), was being built. Before the team moved back full-time to the Coliseum in 2020–21, its nickname was arguably an Artifact Title.note  The new arena, the league's newest, opened in late November 2021, with the Isles playing their first 13 games on the road.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). The league later implemented new rules on contracts in the 2013 CBA, including limits on term (8 years to extend with the team that held your rights at the trade deadline, 7 years to sign with a new one)and structure (the lowest yearly payout must be no less than 50% of the highest payout),note  to prevent this, along with a retroactive punishment called the cap advantage recapture penalty to prevent teams from benefitting from these contracts if the players left their teams early.note 

New York Rangers

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Year Established: 1926
Nicknames: the Blueshirts
Colors: Blue, red, white
Home Arena: Madison Square Garden (since 1968)
Stanley Cups: 4; 1928, 1933, 1940, 1994
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 11 total; 1929, 1932, 1937, 1950, 1972, 1979, 2014
Presidents' Trophies: 3; 1991–92, 1993–94, 2014–15

The New York Rangers: The 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 until Toronto inherited the dubious honor in 2022). 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.note  The high picks (#2 in 2019, #1 in 2020) and the large amount of money to spend, which, as usual, they spent on the most expensive free agent on the market, appears to have sparked a resurgence by 2021-22, with a playoff berth and two comebacks to return to the conference finals. The team no longer plays “Let's Go Band” at home games because every time it's played, diehards will chant "Potvin sucks!"note 

Philadelphia Flyers

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Year Established: 1967
Colors: Burnt orange, black, white
Home Arena: Wells Fargo Center (since 1996)
Stanley Cups: 2; 1974, 1975
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 8 total; 1976, 1980, 1985, 1987, 1997, 2010
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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, twice.note  Chronically lacked a permanent goaltender through much of the 2000's and 2010's, until Carter Hart emerged as a viable starter in the early 2020's...just as the rest of the team fell apart around him, eventually culminating in the trades of captain Claude Giroux and fellow top player Jakub Voracek in 2022. On the subject of goaltenders: the first ever goalie to score a goal off a direct shot on net was the Flyers' Ron Hextall.note  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 and a slightly lesser rivalry with the Boston Bruins. They made waves in late 2018 with the introduction 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

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Year Established: 1967
Colors: Black, Pittsburgh gold, white
Home Arena: PPG Paints Arena (since 2010)
Stanley Cups: 5; 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, 2017
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 6 total; 2008
Presidents' Trophies: 1; 1992–93

The Pittsburgh Penguins: another of the teams created in the 1967 Expansion and arguably the most successful of the bunch with 5 Stanley Cups note . 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 Hard...at 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 Finalnote . The most recent team to have changed hands, with Lemieux and his business partner Ron Burkle selling out during the 2021–22 season to Fenway Sports Group. Yes, as in the Boston Red Sox.note 

Washington Capitals

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Year Established: 1974
Colors: Red, white, blue
Home Arena: Capital One Arena (since 1997)
Stanley Cups: 1; 2018
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 2 total; 1998
Presidents' Trophies: 3; 2009–10, 2015–16, 2016–17

The 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 and followed it up with a Cup win in 2018 (though they have since returned back to their old ways). 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 Zone teams over the three decades it had them, but now except for Colorado and Arizona (both of which are in the Mountain Time Zone), it is entirely based in the Central Time Zone. Spiritual Successor of the Norris Division.

Arizona Coyotes

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Year Established: 1972
Year Joined NHL: 1979
Prior Names/Locations: Winnipeg Jets (1972–1996), Phoenix Coyotes (1996–2014)
Future Name/Location: Name TBA; will play in Salt Lake City (2024–)
Colors: Process black, brick red, forest green, sand, sienna, purple
Home Arena: Mullett Arena (2022–2024)
Future Home Arena: Delta Center (from 2024)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 0
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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 — hellbent on keeping them in Arizona, even if Hamilton, Seattle (which eventually got the Kraken in 2021), Quebec City, Kansas City, Houston, and even Saskatoon were offering to get the team. True North Sports and Entertainment were the frontrunners to acquire the Coyotes, bringing the original Jets home if efforts to keep the team in Arizona fell through before the league convinced True North to buy the Thrashers instead; while the league allowed True North to revive the Winnipeg Jets name, the original Jets' history remains in Arizona) 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 and an appearance in the expanded 2020 playoffs where they managed to win their Qualifying Round series over Nashville before being demolished by Colorado in the next round; even in this year, they were eleventh in the Conference and were on a month long skid when the season was paused by the pandemic). As such, they're unsurprisingly the oldest franchise to currently never make it to the Stanley Cup, provided you include their original stay in Winnipeg. The Coyotes were in the Pacific Division from 1998 until the activation of the Seattle Kraken in 2021 moved Arizona back into the Central Divisionnote . 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 now-former arena (the Gila River Arena), all of which came to a head when the City of Glendale decided not to renew the Coyotes' lease before the 2021–22 season began and forced the team and league to scramble for both a new arena and city once that season ended. Houston was considered to be the leading candidate since there are interested local parties and possible arena solutions already in placenote , but the league and franchise seemed determined to stay in the state of Arizona even if they couldn't stay in Glendale, thus they tried to strike a deal with the City of Tempe. The plan started with the Coyotes moving into the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena that was initially built by and for Arizona State University for some of their college teams (including hockey) in 2022, intending to stay there until at least 2025, if not 2026, while a more permanent home in Tempe (with a lot more seats being built by then) got built for them. However, the leading proposal for an arena and surrounding entertainment district was met with immediate opposition and appears to have fallen apart after a public referendum resulted in a lopsided "no" vote in May 2023; after that, the Coyotes needed to seriously consider leaving the state altogether and relocate, particularly with both the Players' Union and the Board of Governors mounting pressure on the team to find a permanent solution sooner rather than later. The head of the NHLPA, Marty Walsh, expressed his support in moving the Coyotes to Utah, growing impatient with the Coyotes' ownership in finding a long-term solution in the Phoenix area. The ownership made an effort to stay in the area, exploring possible sites in Mesa and north Phoenix, with a public land auction on June 27, 2024 in the latter being the team's last-ditch effort to remain in Arizona. However, given that the arena would have taken at least two years to construct even if the Coyotes had won the land auction, and the league wasn't too keen on an extended stay at Mullett Arena, the league facilitated a sale to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, with the official announcement of the sale and move to Salt Lake City to be made immediately after the end of the 2023–24 regular season. The NHL has told Smith that the Delta Center, home to the Jazz, will need hockey-specific upgrades. However, with SLC planning a bid for the 2034 Winter Olympics, with a new arena in the works for that event, the Utah government plans to chip in close to $1 billion for the new arena, and Smith also has government support for upgrades to the Delta Center. The sale agreement gives former owner Alex Meruelo a five-year window to get a new arena built in the Phoenix area; if successful, the Coyotes will return as an expansion team. Also notable as the only NHL team (as of 2021–22) that does not require its players to arrive at the arena on game days in suits and ties.note  Also known as of late for, even when fielding awful teams, somehow being a permanent hellish thorn on the Toronto Maple Leafs' side for no particular reason, as it has been more than 20 years since the last time Toronto beat the Coyotes at home in regulation, and Arizona having beat them 18 out of the 25 times they've played one another.

Chicago Blackhawks

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Year Established: 1926
Prior Names/Locations: Chicago Black Hawks (1926-1986)
Colors: Red, black, white
Home Arena: United Center (since 1994)
Stanley Cups: 6; 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010, 2013, 2015
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 13 total; 1931, 1944, 1962, 1965, 1971, 1973, 1992
Presidents' Trophies: 2; 1990–91, 2012–13

The Chicago Blackhawks: the 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 2015note . 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

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Year Established: 1972
Year Joined NHL: 1979
Prior Names/Locations: Quebec Nordiques (1972-1995)
Colors: Burgundy, blue, silver, black
Home Arena: Ball Arena (since 1999)
Stanley Cups: 3; 1996, 2001, 2022
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 3
Presidents' Trophies: 3; 1996–97, 2000–01, 2020–21

The Colorado Avalanche: AKA the Avs. 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 four seasons, and have since 2020 a strong, high-scoring team. Finally managed a run in 2022, clinching the Cup after a tough series with an equally high powered though badly injured Tampa Bay Lightning team, denying them a three-peat.

Dallas Stars

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Year Established: 1967
Prior Names/Locations: Minnesota North Stars (1967-1993)
Colors: Victory green, black, silver, white
Home Arena: American Airlines Center (since 2001)
Stanley Cups: 1; 1999
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 5 total; 1981, 1991, 2000, 2020
Presidents' Trophies: 2; 1997–98, 1998–99

The 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/Bay Area 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

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Year Established: 2000
Colors: Forest green, iron range red, harvest gold, Minnesota wheat
Home Arena: Xcel Energy Center (since 2000)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 0
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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. Their on-ice success has been limited, though - they've only made one Conference Finals appearance, in 2003, where they scored just one goal in four games against white-hot Ducks goalie Jean-Sébastien Giguère. After two first-round exits later in the decade, they became regular playoff contenders in the The New '10s after signing star forward Zach Parise and top-flite defenseman Ryan Suter in 2012, but advanced past the first round only twice in this time. The twin 13-year, $98 million contracts given to the duo eventually proved more burdensome than the value of their talents, especially as they entered their mid-30s, leading to buyouts for both just before the Seattle Expansion Draft in 2021.note  Until 2021-22, the team had never had a 100-point scorer; Russian superstar Kirill Kaprizov, drafted with a late pick years earlier, finally reached the mark in his secondnote  season in the Twin Cities.

Nashville Predators

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Year Established: 1998
Colors: Predators gold, navy blue, white
Home Arena: Bridgestone Arena (since 1998)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 1; 2017
Presidents' Trophies: 1; 2017–18

The Nashville Predators: an expansion team from 1998, born out of a failed attempt at relocating the 1995 Cup Champions New Jersey Devils. 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 coach Barry Trotz (who was there from the foundation in 1998 to 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 . Known for their dominant defensemen, including Ryan Suter (whose decision to leave for Minnesota earned him the undying ire of Predators fans), Shea Weber (captain for six years who signed a massive 14-year/$110M contract), P.K. Subban (traded from Montreal for Weber; later dealt to the Devils before retiring in 2022), and Roman Josi (current captain and 2020 Norris Trophy winner). Were at their strongest in the late 2010s, where their feared defensive core and the play of goalie Pekka "Too Good Right Now" Rinne led to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2017 and a Presidents' Trophy in 2018; they infamously raised three banners for the latter (two of which were completely redundant "Central Division" and "Western Conference" banners), earning them the unyielding mockery of the league. Also known for their numerous bizarre fan traditions, including throwing catfish on the icenote , extended goalie chant after every single Nashville goal, and taking sledgehammers to cars painted in their opponents' colors during the playoffs.note 

St. Louis Blues

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Year Established: 1967
Colors: Royal blue, gold, navy blue, white
Home Arena: Enterprise Center (since 1995)
Stanley Cups: 1; 2019
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 4 total; 1968, 1969, 1970
Presidents' Trophies: 1; 1999–00

The 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 Bruinsnote ). 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. They have a notable rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks and another developing one with the Boston Bruins note .

Winnipeg Jets

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Year Established: 1999
Prior Names/Locations: Atlanta Thrashers (1999-2011)
Colors: Polar night blue, aviator blue, silver, red, white
Home Arena: Canada Life Centre (since 2011)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 0
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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. Even better, the Jets managed to score a massive upset in the 2021 play-offs by sweeping the McDavid/Draisaitl-led Oilers in a series that went so well for the Jets that it caused serious concerns about the Oilers as a franchise - although being swept by the Canadiens in the following round raised questions as for whether the Jets were good or simply lucky. Those questions have deepened in the seasons since due to them straddling the playoff linenote  while the coaching staff turned over,note  rumors of locker room strife swirled and multiple top players insinuated their desires to leave the team. Compounding the locker room drama, the Jets have been struggling with declining attendance since the COVID-19 pandemic; from 2021—24, the Jets lost over a quarter of its pre-pandemic season ticket base, many of them individuals, putting the long term viability of the Jets into question.

    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. As the Metro Division is an expanded Patrick Division, the Pacific Division is an expanded Smythe Division as it existed from 1991 to 1993, minus the original Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes.

Anaheim Ducks

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Year Established: 1993
Prior Names/Locations: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (1993-2006)
Colors: Black, metallic gold, orange, silver
Home Arena: Honda Center (since 1993)
Stanley Cups: 1; 2007
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 2 total; 2003
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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, 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 note , 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 2017–18 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 and emerged as one of the league's breakout teams in the 2021–22 season, in no small part due to Trevor Zegras and his absolute wizardry. Also known for infamously bad luck when it comes to the Draft Lottery, in which they have been the second overall pick in a lottery featuring a player who was being touted as a generational talent twice, first in 2005 when Pittsburgh won the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes (the Ducks drafted Bobby Ryan) and then again in 2023 when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Connor Bedard Sweepstakes (the Ducks drafted Leo Carlsson), but don't mention this to any Ducks fans, as many of them feel they were cheated out of both of themnote .

Calgary Flames

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Year Established: 1972
Prior Names/Locations: Atlanta Flames (1972-1980)
Colors: Red, yellow, white
Home Arena: Scotiabank Saddledome (since 1983)
Stanley Cups: 1; 1989
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 3 total; 1986, 2004
Presidents' Trophies: 2; 1987–88, 1988–89

The 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. They made it to the final round before losing to Montreal. In 1989, the Flames won the Cup without the Oilers on the way... who lost to Wayne Gretzky's new team, the Kings.) They are the only team to defeat the Canadiens at the Montreal Forum for the Stanley Cup. note  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 Final 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, qualifying for the playoffs just four times since 2009-10 - with the first two having Calgary getting shown the door by the Anaheim Ducks, against whom they had a spectacularly-long losing streak away from home up until 2017 - and winning a round only in half of those. The Flames' long-time home of the Saddledome hosted several events in the 1988 Winter Olympics; however, it is one of the oldest arenas in the league and the oldest among the seven Canadian teams. In April 2023, after several false starts, the city and Flames reached an agreement to build the Saddledome's replacement.

Edmonton Oilers

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Year Established: 1972
Year Joined NHL: 1979
Prior Names/Locations: Alberta Oilers (1972-1973)
Colors: Royal blue, orange, white
Home Arena: Rogers Place (since 2016)
Stanley Cups: 5; 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 7 total; 1983, 2006
Presidents' Trophies: 2; 1985–86, 1986–87

The 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. These problems only became more apparent when in the 2021 playoffs, their first legitimate postseason since 2016note , the team got swept by the universally agreed inferior Jets franchise, including an embarrassing Leaf-like blowing of a 4-1 lead in Game 3. The series revealed just how easily the Oilers' main strategy of "Pass to McDavid and see what happens" could be countered and cast serious doubts on not only any future play-off viability but even whether Connor McDavid would even stay in Edmonton or ask for a trade, though they proved many doubters wrong by advancing to the Western Conference Finals the following year. Currently playing in one of the league's newer arenas, namely Rogers Place (opened for 2016–17).

Los Angeles Kings

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Year Established: 1967
Colors: Black, silver, white
Home Arena: Crypto.com Arena (since 1999)
Stanley Cups: 2; 2012, 2014
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 3 total; 1993
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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) and would ultimately lead to the rise of expansion teams in the The '90s note . 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. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are huge fans of the team, and have made pre-game videos that are played at Kings games where Eric Cartman mocks the other team and tells them to "respect our authoritah!".

San Jose Sharks

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Year Established: 1991
Colors: Deep Pacific teal, black, burnt orange
Home Arena: SAP Center (since 1993)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 1; 2016
Presidents' Trophies: 1; 2008–09

The 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 had 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 Final 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. Have announced a long rebuild following their 2019 playoff loss by first ultimately trading longtime Shark Patrick Marleau to the Maple Leafs, allowing Joe Pavelski to sign with the Dallas Stars note , allowing Joe Thornton to bolt for the Toronto Maple Leafs and trading away longtime Shark defenseman Brent Burns to the Carolina Hurricanes. 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

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Year Established: 2021
Colors: Deep sea blue, ice blue, boundless blue, shadow blue, red alert
Home Arena: Climate Pledge Arena (since 2021)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 0
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The 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 a major-league hockey 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. Much like Vegas' expansion bid, Seattle's bid was chosen over reviving the Quebec Nordiques because of a weak loonienote  as well as moving Columbus back to the Western Conference. In contrast to Vegas' initial season ticket drive, though, which had sold 5,000 deposits in the first day and a half but required more than a month to reach the league-mandated 10,000 to secure their bid, Seattle reached the 10K mark in 12 minutes, and had 25,000 deposits in about 75 minutes. 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 was ready to join the league, and officially hit the ice in the 2021–22 season.

  • A large part of the hype for the Kraken might be the fact that they've been put in the same division as the previous expansion team, the Golden Knights, whose out of nowhere Cup run in their first season of existence placed high expectations on the Seattle team before it even hit the ice. The comparisons between the two teams' entry drafts even caused some fans to engage in revisionist history about the Vegas draft, criticizing Seattle for not drafting a Cup-winning team off the bat when not even Vegas thought they'd do much with the team they drafted. The League also appear to be leaning in on this since one of the first games to be played in the 2021–22 season was Seattle at Vegas (Vegas won 4–3). For better or worse, the hype was mostly unfounded and the Kraken had what could be considered a typical expansion season, finishing at the bottom of the division while struggling with team chemistry, underwhelming goaltendingnote  and suspect coaching.note  They had a much better sophomore season in 2022-23, which marked their first playoff appearance, triumphing over the defending champions, the Avalanche, before falling in the seventh game of the second round to the Stars, who themselves fell to the Golden Knights on the latter's way to their first Stanley cup win. So, time will tell if they can prove themselves to be as consistently fearsome as their namesake.
  • In true idiosyncratic Seattle form, the Kraken's home rink broke new ground in arena naming schemes. Most arenas and stadiums in American sports had been named by municipalities and local owners up until around the mid 1990s, when a trend began where naming rights began being sold to businesses that named those locals after themselves as a form of showing support for local teams and as advertising. Seattle-based megacorp Amazon looked to follow suit when they bought the rights to Seattle's new arena while it was under construction, but took a much different direction. Under their guidelines, much of the arena was redesigned for environmental friendliness in mind, in line with the locale's new name, Climate Pledge Arena, the first pro sports location in North America to be named for a pledge or slogan towards a social cause.note 

Vancouver Canucks

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Year Established: 1945
Year Joined NHL: 1970
Colors: Blue, green, white
Home Arena: Rogers Arena (since 1995)
Stanley Cups: 0
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 3; 1982, 1994, 2011
Presidents' Trophies: 2; 2010–11, 2011–12

The Vancouver Canucks: unusually for a hockey team, for a couple years 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 (although the Flying Skate logo that came with the set became iconic to the point of being used for the team's 50th anniversary season), 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 a personnel change that saw the addition of Trevor Lindennote , Jim Benningnote  and Willie Desjardinsnote  to the organization. Despite this, the hate for the Canucks in Alberta will always endure.

  • However, all three were widely criticized during their tenures, with the Canucks still failing to make the playoffs (aside from a brief first round appearance in 2015). Desjardins was eventually relieved of his duties in 2017, Linden was pushed to resign following a power struggle with Benning in 2018, and Benning would be fired (along with Desjardins' replacement, Travis Green) in December 2021. Linden and Benning's spots are now filled by Jim Rutherfordnote  and Patrik Allvinnote . Green, meanwhile, would be succeeded as head coach by Bruce Boudreau, who quickly became a beloved fan favourite over the team's renewed success — until dwindling performance the very next season led to his own firing in January 2023, a controversial move that paved the way for current bench boss Rick Tocchet.
  • 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 decision 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

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Year Established: 2017
Colors: Steel grey, gold, red, black
Home Arena: T-Mobile Arena (since 2017)
Stanley Cups: 1; 2023
Stanley Cup Final Appearances: 2 total; 2018
Presidents' Trophies: 0

The Vegas Golden Knights: the current Stanley Cup champions. 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 Final, 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 Final 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 move to the Central Division once the Seattle Kraken began play and took their place in the Pacific Division. In addition, they have lesser but still fierce rivalries with the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. They finally missed the playoffs for the first time in the 2021–22 season, only to come roaring back the following season, in which they captured the Stanley Cup in 5 games over the Florida Panthers, bringing the city of Las Vegas its first ever championship as a "Big Four" league sports citynote  in only their sixth year in existence. Vegas quickly gained a reputation for its extremely aggressive front office and fondness for blockbuster trades, for better or worse; this was not helped by a very public falling-out with Fleury, who had become a fan favorite before being unceremoniously shipped off to Chicago. In true Las Vegas fashion, their home games are quite a performance, with a drum line, a cheerleading squad, and even an ice show with actors dressed as knights.

Potential Expansion and Relocation

With the addition of Vegas and Seattle as well as the hype surrounding those two teams, expansion has been a hot topic in the NHL. Despite being the second of the four major North American leagues to expand to 32 clubs, there have been rumors that the NHL is looking to expand further, with insiders pointing to Atlanta and Houston, the two largest U.S. media markets without an NHL franchise, as the likely frontrunners—before Phoenix became a likely expansion target following the relocation of the Arizona Coyotes to Salt Lake City. The former NHL markets of Hartford and Quebec City have remained perennial favorites among hockey traditionalists. Other possible expansion locations mentioned include Cincinnati, Halifax, Hamilton, Milwaukee, Omaha, Kansas City, Portland, San Diego and Saskatoon. While some traditionalists balk at the idea of expansion in general, in the Sun Belt specifically, and especially for a third time in Atlanta or a second time in Phoenix over Hartford or Quebec City, some believe that Toronto and/or Montreal could support a second NHL franchise; however, both the Leafs and Habs will likely block any such attempts.

    Potential Expansion and Relocation 

Atlanta

Atlanta has a rather checkered history with the NHL, with the city losing two separate franchises to Canada in less than 40 years. Many hockey fans as well as casual observers outside of Atlanta generally accept the narrative that both the Flames and Thrashers failed due to a lack of fan support; however, most Atlanta hockey fans argue that it was other factors, namely economic issues for the Flames and the dysfunctional ownership of the Thrashers, that caused them to lose their teams. The Flames began play in 1972, partly as a ploy to keep the upstart World Hockey Association out of the then-newly built Omni Coliseum. The Flames were a decent team on the ice, although they had a bad case of Every Year They Fizzle Out come the Stanley Cup playoffs; however, like many of their late 60s/early 70s expansion contemporaries, the Flames struggled financially due to the arms race between the NHL and WHA. The decline of the Atlanta real estate market in 1970s also caused owner Tom Cousins to bleed money on the Flames, selling the team to a Calgary-based group led by Nelson Skalbania to avoid bankruptcy in 1980. From 1992–96, in-between NHL franchises, Atlanta had a relatively successful minor league team in the defucnt IHL known as the Atlanta Knights, winning that league's championship in their sophomore season; the Knights moved to Quebec City after their 1995–96 season because the Omni Coliseum had to be demolished due to structual defects and a new arena now known as State Farm Arena built in its place, after then Hawks owner Ted Turner was granted the Thrashers in 1997. While the Thrashers had the typical growing pains of an expansion team in its early years, things went downhill following the infamous 2004–05 lockout. In 2004, Time Warner divested Turner's sports interests, selling the Thrashers, Hawks, and operating rights to State Farm Arena to a group called Atlanta Spirit; the ownership group was notorious for its internal discord as well as neglecting the Thrashers in favor of the Hawks, in which the group wanted to offload the hockey club as soon as legally possible. After settling a lawsuit with an ex-partner in late 2010, Atlanta Spirit sold the Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment in the 2011 offseason, becoming the current Winnipeg Jets. Most hockey traditionalists want to permanently write off Atlanta as a lost cause after two failed franchises; however, some Atlanta hockey fans remain optimistic that the NHL will eventually give the Peach State a third try should the right opportunity arise. In September 2023, deputy commissioner Bill Daly made remarks that the NHL is open to returning to Atlanta, believing that the challenges the league had faced in Atlanta's two prior attempts could now be overcome. As of March 2024, there are two competing proposals to bring an NHL franchise back to the metro Atlanta area; both groups plan to build an NHL-sized arena as part of a larger mixed-use development in or near the suburb of Alpharetta, 30 miles north of downtown Atlanta. One proposal is The Gathering at South Forsyth, led by businessman Vernon Krause; it is planned to be built on an undeveloped tract near the Forsyth County-Fulton County line. The other group is led by former NHL player Anson Carter, and his group plans to redevelop the North Point Mall site; Carter also currently owns a minority stake in the ECHL's Atlanta Gladiators, based in the Gwinnett County suburb of Duluth.

Hamilton

Hamilton attempted to join the NHL in the early 90s expansion window, but were passed over in favor of San Jose, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Anaheim, and Florida. Since then, there were several attempts, most of them fronted by BlackBerry founder Jim Balsillie, to relocate struggling franchises, such as Pittsburgh, Nashville, Arizona, Atlanta, and Buffalo, to Hamilton, but every such attempt was unsuccessful, with the teams in question either remaining in their present market or in Atlanta's case, moving to a different market altogether. The biggest hurdle for an NHL team in Hamilton is the city's location between Toronto and Buffalo; both the Maple Leafs and the Sabres won't allow a team in Hamilton without heavy indemnification payments for encroaching on their territory, the Leafs more so than the Sabres. Another major obstacle is Hamilton's largest arena, FirstOntario Centre, which was built in the mid-1980s and would either need extensive renovations or outright replacement to be a viable home of an NHL franchise.

Hartford

Formerly home of the Whalers from 1975–97, Hartford is a favorite locale among hockey traditionalists whenever talks of expansion or relocation come up, although not quite to the same extent of Quebec City. Since the Whalers' departure, Hartford has made do with the minor league Hartford Wolf Pack, the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers; the Wolf Pack renamed themselves the Connecticut Whale for a brief period in the early 2010s before reverting back to their original name. With the Coyotes' future in Arizona up in the air, the Connecticut governor has talked with the league about bringing the Whalers back via relocation or expansion; however, the Coyotes are unlikely to move east, since it would require signifigant legaue realignment. Also, the Northeast Corridor is already well represented with six teams (Boston, NY Rangers, NY Islanders, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington), and the Whalers were overshadowed by Boston and the three NYC-area teams, which led in part to the Whalers' exodus to North Carolina. Another factor behind the Whalers' move was their former home, the XL Center, which was built in the mid-1970s and is functionally obsolete by modern NHL standards, and the Connecticut state government at the time didn't want to spend taxpayer money on a new arena.

Houston

The NHL has never placed a team in Houston at any point in the league's history. The Houston Aeros operated in the WHA from 1972–78, being one of that league's most financially stable and dominant on-ice teams. When the WHA began merger talks, the Aeros were thought to be a lock for inclusion. However, the NHL was only willing to accept four teams in the merger, and the WHA insisted that all three of its Canadian teams be accepted, leaving only one open slot for an American team. The NHL was hesitant to add another Sun Belt team after the Oakland Seals moved to Cleveland in 1976 (and subsequently folded only two seasons later), and the Los Angeles Kings and Atlanta Flames were struggling financially, which led to the WHA using the New England (Hartford) Whalers as the fourth merger team. Seeing the writing on the walls, the Aeros folded after their 1977–78 season ended. From 1994–2013, Houston had a minor league team named the Aeros, in honor of the former WHA club; the IHL/AHL Aeros left Houston when their affiliate/majority owner, the Minnesota Wild, were unable to renew their arena lease. The NHL almost came to Houston in 1998, after then Rockets' owner Les Alexander made a bid to move the Edmonton Oilersnote  down to Houston; however, a local Edmonton group managed to make an eleventh-hour deal to keep the Oilers from moving. Les Alexander sold the Rockets and the Toyota Center to Tilman Fertitta in 2017. Since then, Fertitta has expressed interest in bringing an NHL team to Houston, with discussions between him and the league intensifying as of February 2024.

Kansas City

Kansas City was previously home to the Scouts, who only lasted two seasons in KC before moving to Denver in 1976, becoming the Colorado Rockies, and subsequently to New Jersey in 1983 as the Devils. In 2007, a new NHL-sized arena, the T-Mobile (née Sprint) Center, opened in downtown KC. Shortly after its opening, T-Mobile Center was used as a bargaining chip by the Pittsburgh Penguins to replace the aging Pittsburgh Civic Arena, ultimately opening what's now known as PPG Paints Arena in 2010. With the Coyotes' arena proposal in Tempe voted down, Kansas City was seen as a potential landing spot before Salt Lake City emerged as that team's future location.

Milwaukee

While Wisconsin has an extensive hockey culture, the state never had an NHL franchise to call its own; however, Milwaukee has a long-running minor league team in the Admirals of the AHL, currently the minor league affiliate of the Nashville Predators. In the early 90s expansion, Milwaukee was one of several markets vying for a franchise; however, the prospective owners withdrew their bid due to the high price tag. Aside from Milwaukee's small metro area, the biggest obstacle to an NHL franchise in Wisconsin is the Chicago Blackhawks, despite the Badger State's hatred of Chicago's other sports teams, particularly the NFL's Bears and MLB's Cubs. A lesser drawback is that while Fiserv Forum, the city's main indoor arena, is a quite modern facility, it would be one of the smallest in the NHL; it seats barely more than 15,000 in its hockey configuration. Also, it hosts two basketball teams—the Milwaukee Bucks as the main tenants, and the Marquette Golden Eagles (NCAA men).

Phoenix

Emerged as an expansion candidate in April 2024 after the league facilitated a sale of the Arizona Coyotes to Utah Jazz and Real Salt Lake owner Ryan Smith, who had made an explicit request to the NHL to open the expansion process that January. Previous Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo will have a five-year option to revive the Coyotes as an expansion team on the condition that he successfully wins the June 27th public land auction and builds the proposed mixed-use arena district.note  Much like Atlanta, traditionalists would rather see the league permanently write off Phoenix as a lost cause than even attempt to return, believing that the Coyotes' 28-year tenure in Arizona was a complete farce, particularly since the team's 2009 bankruptcy and especially their last two years at Mullett Arena.

Quebec City

Since the Nordiques' departure in 1995, Quebec City has remained a perennial favorite of hockey traditionalists whenever talks of expansion or relocation comes up. As part of Quebec City's bid for an NHL franchise in the 2015 expansion window, the antiquated Colisée de Québec was replaced with the state-of-the-art Centre Vidéotron. Despite having a suitable arena, willing ownership, and a passionate fanbase ready to accept a new team, several factors impede the return of the Nordiques. First, Quebec City would be the second-smallest market in the NHL and the third-smallest across all four major leagues; Quebec City's small metro population would also limit the number of new NHL fans created, which is why the league is targeting highly-populated but non-traditional markets like Atlanta, Houston, and Phoenix for expansion over smaller but traditional markets. Second, the small market Canadian teams (Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg) struggle to attract and retain top-tier talent, with players citing high Canadian federal and provincial taxes, bad weather, a lack of off-season activities, and increased scrutiny from the local media and fans as reasons for not wanting to play in small Canadian markets, and Quebec City would certainly be no exception. Third, compounding the small market issue, most of Quebec's major companies are based in Greater Montreal, limiting the amount of corporate money, either by sponsorships or premium season ticket purchases, available to a potential Nordiques revival. Fourth, Quebec City is almost exclusively Francophone, unlike Montreal, where a person can get away with only speaking English, although some working knowledge of French is helpful. Fifth, if or when the NHL decides to expand, the possible expansion fee could exceed US$1 billion (~C$1.35 billion), and Pierre Karl Péladeau, whose company Quebecor owns the operating rights to Centre Vidéotron and was the primary force behind Quebec City's 2015 expansion attempt, would likely pass at that price. Sixth, the Canadiens would likely demand a high indemnification payment, since the Habs have been the province's only team for going on 30 years. Lastly, the state of the Winnipeg Jets over a decade after their reestablishment serves as a possible bellwether for how a Quebec Nordiques revival could play out; while the Nordiques' return, without doubt, would be successful early on due to strong nostalgia, there is no guarantee that the team would remain economically viable long term once the honeymoon period ends, especially if the team's fortunes on or off the ice decline.

San Diego

San Diego is currently the largest U.S. metro area without either an NHL or NBA franchise. From 1974–77, San Diego had a WHA team named the Mariners; despite having a decent on-ice showing, the team struggled with attendance and folded after attempts to move the team to South Florida fell through. The city has had several minor league teams at various points, with the current iteration of the Gulls being an AHL team that serves as the farm team for the Anaheim Ducks just up the road. The city's main indoor arena, the San Diego Sports Arena, was built in the mid-1960s and is functionally obsolete by modern NHL and NBA standards. In the early 2020s, the San Diego city council put the Sports Arena site up for redevelopment. The winning proposal, Midway Rising, would see the Sports Arena replaced with a 16,000 seat modern arena along with housing, commerical, and retail space. In June 2023, Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke became the lead investor in the Midway Rising project through his real estate development arm.

Saskatoon

Saskatchewan's largest city, Saskatoon, has attempted to bring an NHL franchise to the prairie province. In the early 1980s, former Edmonton Oilers founding owner Bill Hunter attempted to purchase the financially-floundering St. Louis Blues with the intent of relocating them to Saskatoon. Despite having the financial backing of the Saskatchewan government and Molson Brewery, the league's Board of Governors near-unanimously rejected the Blues' proposed relocation, as the league was not willing to lose the St. Louis market and cited issues with Saskatoon's small population and remote location as well as Hunter's prior involvement with the WHA in the 1970s; the Board made a counter-offer to allow Hunter to purchase the Blues under the stipulation that the team remain in St. Louis, but Hunter was not interested. When the NHL opened up expansion in the early 1990s, Hunter made a bid for one of the expansion slots; however, he was forced to withdraw his bid when the provincial government declined to financially support his new bid. In 2009, after the Phoenix Coyotes' bankruptcy, a potential ownership group proposed playing five games of their 2009–10 regular season home schedule in Saskatoon, but the proposal never came to fruition.

Defunct Teams

    Defunct Teams 
Before the Stanley Cup permanently stayed with the NHL from 1926 onward (though they started competing for the Stanley Cup as early as 1917), its presence was graced upon multiple Canadian-based hockey leagues and even an American-Canadian based hockey league on both amateur and professional levels. It started out in 1893 on an amateur (and somewhat independent) level in Canada only with the AHAC* being the original league to decide who the best Canadian team in the nation was under its original format called the Challenge Cup at the time. It later expanded its presence into many other hockey leagues in Canada like the OHA*, the MHA*, the CCHA*, the CAHL*, the MaPHL*, the MNWHA*, the FAHL*, the MaHL*, the ECAHA*, the OPHL*, the AAHA*, the ECHA*, the NHA*, the NOHL*, and the PCHA* until 1914. By March of that year, the trustee to the Stanley Cup of that time, William Foran, and the President of the NHA (the official predecessor to the NHL), Emmett Quinn, agreed to the Stanley Cup being held by only the professional hockey leagues from both Canada and the U.S.A. going forward, which were originally left with the NHA and the PCHA as the true direct competitors for the first three years after the proposal was made. Ironically, the NHA ceased operations in 1917 due to ownership squabbles with an owner they saw as completely unwanted with their association, which led to the operations of the NHL that we know today. However, the NHL still competed against teams from the PCHA and then the WCHL* (the latter of whom dropped the Canada part of their league, thus going as the WHL in their final season) together from 1922-1923 (with the winner of the PCHA/WCHL match going up against the NHL's winner) before just going against the WCHL from 1924 until they shut down altogether in 1926. Due of the convoluted nature that the early history of the Stanley Cup had, we'll be skipping the teams that played throughout the first two eras of that history (though shout outs are given for the Vancouver Millionaires and the Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA, as well as the Victoria Cougars from the WCHL for being the only non-NHA/NHL teams to win from that second era, with the Metropolitans also being the first American team to win the Stanley Cup). Thankfully, due to the NHL being the only true competitors of the Stanley Cup, no other league has tried competing against that league. Furthermore, with the NHL also having the Original Six period from 1942-1967 combined with the fact that hockey's early history relied on ice being created naturally for the colder months of the year in its early history (some places did not have artificial ice at the time), they're actually the league with the least amount of defunct teams in its history (with seven total teams going defunct) due to the NHL being a conservative league at that time. However, each team has had some interesting history to their names, which makes their mentions worthwhile to point out here.
  • The California Golden Seals (1961-1976) originally started out as the San Francisco Seals for the majority of their time in the then-rivaling WHL*, winning two championships there in their early years of 1963 and 1964. Near the end of their time at the WHL and at the start of their time in the NHL, note  the team moved to Oakland and broadened their sense of team names to become the California Seals before being more specific as the Oakland Seals for their first few seasons in the NHL. After the original team owners struggled with their move to Oakland to the point of nearly failing to sell the team to someone else despite making it to the playoffs twice in a row after their inaugural season in the NHL, the owner of the Oakland Athletics purchased the Seals and briefly renamed them the Bay Area Seals for two games before becoming the California Golden Seals for the rest of their time in California. However, the Golden Seals never recovered from their ownership issues throughout their promotion to the NHL, as they were never promoted well locally and an ill-fated trade with the Montreal Canadiens made competing properly feel next to impossible for them. After failing to move to Denver, minority owners George & Gordan Gund became full-time owners themselves and moved the team to Cleveland to rename them the Cleveland Barons (1976-1978) in honor of the original Barons team from the AHL*. Unfortunately for the team, they had an even worse situation in Cleveland due to the rushed move resulting in a lack of promotion and money for the team in their first season in Cleveland. The team almost not just folded during the season, but also nearly caused a player's strike to occur there. However, they were briefly saved by the NHL giving the team a $1.9 million loan to finish that first season in Cleveland off. Unfortunately, despite them surviving another season due to the Gunds pouring their own cash into the team and briefly being competitive in their second season, the Barons were pushed to their wit's end between the new arena owners and a lack of new owners willing to purchase the team altogether, either for Cleveland or somewhere else like Houston. This led to an infamous merger with the also-struggling Minnesota North Stars (now Dallas Stars) that led to the Minnesota franchise retaining their name, history, and team colors in exchange for the Gund brothers being the new team owners for the North Stars. Interestingly enough, half of the North Stars in 1991 (by this time, none of them were original Golden Seals/Barons players) were later sent to the San Jose Sharks, a then-expansion team of the time now owned by the Gund family, leading to a rare dispersal/expansion draft setting for both the Sharks and North Stars, though the Sharks don't really retain the history of the (Golden) Seals/Barons. As such, the (Golden) Seals/Barons are the last, most recent team to be defunct in any of the major four American sports leagues, never mind the entire NHL.
  • The Montreal Maroons (1924-1938) officially went by the Montreal Professional Hockey Club in their entire history and were the last professional Montreal-based hockey team created in the NHL after their first team that focused on being the team for the English speaking minority shut down unexpectedly (see below). The very first owner of the first original professional Montreal team in the NHL, James Strachan, originally wanted the Maroons to exist as a revived version of the Montreal Wanderers (as seen below), but Strachan could not secure team rights of the Wanderers back from that original team's final owner, Sam Lichtenhein. As a result, he settled on a more generic, longer name to reflect their professional hockey status, though the Maroons were the official retroactive team nickname due to the colour of the jerseys they wore. The Maroons' existence was also what caused the first large hockey arena, the Montreal Forum, to happen due to the team sharing their home arena with the rivaling Canadiens. Anyways, the Maroons did not start out well in their first year in the NHL, finishing their inaugural season with a 9-19-2 record for a fifth place spot ahead of only the Boston Bruins. However, in their second season, the Maroons saw significant improvements by not only placing second place in the NHL behind the original Ottawa Senators, but they also both won the NHL Playoff format over both the Pittsburgh Pirates (see below) and the original Senators and also won the final interleague Stanley Cup championship for the NHL over the WHL's Victoria Cougars in a 3-1 series win at home. After that season, the NHL became the permanent home of the Stanley Cup championship, with the Maroons continuing to be a very successful hockey team throughout the majority of their history in the NHL due to powerful forwards that they had under what was called the "S Line" formation, as well as the first ever goalie to wear a hockey mask at the time. When the league had enough teams to create divisions for the American teams and the Canadian teams that existed there at the time, the Maroons only failed to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs one other time before their final season in the league came to pass. For the majority of their time spent in the Canadian Division, the Maroons were always somewhere in the top three of their division (finishing in first place there twice), making sure to compete well in the playoffs for those seasons. However, aside from one more Stanley Cup championship won in 1935 over the Maple Leafs (which was the last one won by a non-Original Six team until 1974 by the Philadelphia Flyers), the Maroons usually managed to fall in either the quarterfinals or semifinals matches (with one match even holding the record for the longest ever playoff game in a 1-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings that lasted for six overtimes for 176:30 of total action [or until 16:30 was left in the final overtime]), with them once failing to win the Stanley Cup over the New York Rangers in 1928 during only their second season of existence. Off the ice, however, the Maroons were facing significant financial issues due to a spending spree they had during the 1928-29 season before the start of The Great Depression. Once the Great Depression went into effect, the Maroons tried to stay competitive in spite of its lingering effects on the public eye, such as resorting to using a player-coach for two seasons and then selling the team to a bigger organization called the Canadian Arena Company. However, it was becoming clear to both the Canadiens and the Maroons that only one Montreal team could survive in the long-term, with the Canadiens having the advantage due to them focusing on the majority French-speaking population in Montreal. By the time the Maroons played their final season in the NHL, it was becoming clear that murmurs were abound to them moving elsewhere as a means of survival just as the Great Depression was nearing its end. Unfortunately for the Maroons, their final season caught up with them both financially and on the ice, as the Maroons played their final season with a 12-30-6 record, finishing dead last in the final year of the Canadian Division's existence in part to team captain Lionel Conacher retiring from hockey in order to get into politics instead. After their final season concluded, the Maroons departed from the NHL under what was supposed to be under a temporary basis for them, though it appeared on the surface that the Maroons were being merged with the Canadiens to have Maroons players be a part of their team going forward, with others playing elsewhere or otherwise being kept out of the league completely afterward. The Maroons even had two chances to revive themselves by having planned moves to first St. Louis and then to Philadelphia before a planned deadline at the end of the 1946-47 season occurred, though both situations failed in relation to failed team ventures out in St. Louis and Philadelphia respectively (see below), with the second venture failing to even get a suitable arena completed in time. Despite the tragic ending, the Maroons have arguably had the most success of any former NHL team of the time, having about 15 players from their history be in the Hockey Hall of Fame and a majority of coaches from their history also joining the players there.
  • The Montreal Wanderers (1903-1918) were considered the first ever professional hockey team based in Montreal, being created years before the Canadiens existed and appealed to the French speaking community there. The Wanderers were named that due to them being a tribute to four different Montreal Wanderers franchises that all lasted for just one season. They were also known by fans as the Montreal Redbands due to their use of red colouring going entirely around the middle of otherwise white jerseys, although the Wanderers were never officially referred to as the Redbands. The Wanderers first appeared in 1903 in the FAHL, a league they helped create after disputes over the control of the original Montreal Hockey Club, (which lasted from 1884-1932), forced both personnel and some players from the original club into creating the Wanderers as a direct competitor. In their first season in the FAHL, the Wanderers played a Stanley Cup match against the Ottawa Hockey Team (the precursor to the original Ottawa Senators team below that joined the FAHL only days after its inaugural season began). It resulted in a 5-5 tie game. The Wanderers wanted to continue their rematch against Ottawa in their home arena, the Montreal Arena, but due to Stanley Cup rules and regulations at the time (being considered the Challenge Cup), the people entrusted with the trophy did not allow the Wanderers to have a rematch in Montreal. This controversially led to the Wanderers forfeiting the series to Ottawa, and the Senators beginning their Silver Seven era. The Wanderers officially started their rivalry with the Ottawa franchise. The Wanderers played one more season in the FAHL alongside Ottawa before they both moved to the ECAHA, where the Wanderers franchise won every season there until the final season over Ottawa (and by extension, won the Stanley Cup in each of those seasons over the Senators). Once the ECAHA ceased to exist, the Wanderers moved to the then-newly created NHA as a charter team, briefly playing without the Senators as a rival before Ottawa joined them during that season. In the inaugural NHA season (being played at the smaller Jubilee Arena for the Wanderers), both the Wanderers and the Senators were named Stanley Cup champions, but it was the Wanderers that were named the official champions of the NHA that season due to them having the best record of every team competing that year. Unfortunately for the Wanderers, they never competed for another Stanley Cup after 1910, as they finished in fourth place with a 7-9 record the following season and did not finish any better than second place with in each of their following seasons until 1915, when they tied with the rival Senators for first place with a 14-6 record. They lost the championship series against Ottawa who scored 4 goals over Montreal's 1 goal throughout two games played. In their final two seasons in the NHA, the Wanderers finished as the second-worst team behind the predecessor to the modern-day Toronto Maple Leafs and then as the overall worst team of the final NHA season respectively due to financial problems the team's owner had at the time. Due to every remaining NHA team hating Eddie Livingstone (who owned two Toronto teams for the first half of the final NHA season through what the rest of the league considered as "unethical means"), the Wanderers joined the rival Canadiens and Senators (and Quebec) as the first ever teams of the NHL (though the Quebec franchise was "temporarily" replaced by a Toronto franchise that eventually became the modern-day Maple Leafs that season). In the Wanderers' first ever game in the NHL, they won a shootout with the new Toronto squad, 10-9. Unfortunately, the Wanderers went downhill from there, as they only achieved an average crowd of about 700 people despite allowing free admission for military personnel and their families. They then lost three straight games to the Canadiens and Ottawa (twice) before the Montreal Arena (the original home of the Wanderers and Canadiens) burned down on January 2, 1918. This led to team owner Sam Lichtenhein folding the club two days later (thereby forfeiting matches to the Canadiens and Toronto that were scheduled at the time), though Lichtenhein continued being a partner for the league in future meetings that season. They are technically the shortest-lived franchise in NHL history, playing in only four games (winning only one game), and forfeiting two through external forces beyond the team's control before folding altogether. The original owner of the Wanderers later gave the English speaking minority community a new team to cheer for six years later in the Montreal Maroons, as seen above.
  • The New York Americans (1925-1941) were the second American team in NHL history behind the Boston Bruins, as well as the league's first team to be based in New York. The Amerks, as fans used to call them at the time, were jointly owned by former lightweight boxer and fight promoter Benny Leonard and former Prohibition-era bootlegger and gangster Bill Dwyer, the latter of whom used his fortunes from bootlegged beer and gangster operations to purchase the entire Hamilton Tigers' roster (see the Quebec Athletics below for more information on that regard). They briefly were nicknamed the New York Hamilton Tigers in their inaugural training camp sessions because of them buying out the Hamilton Tigers' roster with Dwyer's money, though they officially became the Americans by the time their first regular season game began. Despite essentially owning the same Hamilton Tigers players that placed first in their final season of existence and looked to compete in that year's Stanley Cup Playoffs at the time, only now gaining significantly more money due to Dwyer's ownership, the team finished in fifth place (ahead of only the modern-day Maple Leafs and the Canadiens), though were hugely successful to the point of the owners of the Madison Square Garden wanting to own their own NHL team after seeing the huge crowds the Americans received in their first season. Bafflingly enough, the Americans were soon placed in the Canadian Division instead of the American Division like the then-newly founded Rangers once the league grew enough to have divisions become a thing from 1926 until 1938 despite the NHL having a team in Detroit (which eventually became the Red Wings) from that time as well that could have handled them travelling to Canada more by comparison. This led to the Americans being considered a second-rate team to the Rangers in that period of time due to the Rangers having immediate success in the NHL (winning the American Division in their first season and the Stanley Cup in their second season) despite Bill Dwyer's efforts to rig games in the Americans' efforts by having goal judges saying goals counted just by touching the opposing team's goal line. One game even resulted in Dwyer wanting Ottawa goalkeeper Alex Connell dead due to him conflicting against the goal judge for that night, though Connell thankfully survived Dwyer's mob due to police efforts. However, when the Americans played in the Canadian Division for some innate reason, they often finished either dead last or second-to-last in their division, failing to make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in all but three seasons they played in that time due to the tougher competition up in Canada from that period of time. In the three seasons they did reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they finished either in second or third place, which led to them losing a 1-0 quarterfinals match to the in-state rivaling Rangers, winning a quarterfinals series match against the Chicago Blackhawks 7-5 before losing a 2-1 best-of-three series to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and winning a best-of-three series 2-1 against the in-state rivaling Rangers before losing a best-of-three series 2-1 against the Blackhawks respectively. Leonard did not live to see the Amerks' first playoff match due to appendix problems in 1929, while Dwyer was around for two of the team's three playoff appearances in the Canadian Division due to the end of Prohibition leading to him being in massive debt through a government lawsuit against him. When the NHL took over the team a season later due to Dwyer failing to pay his debts off by him losing all the money he was lent from leading team manager/coach Red Dutton ($20,000) to a craps game, the Americans saw some immediate improvements in terms of results, which led to them being a playoff contender for three straight seasons (two of which coming after the NHL dropped down to seven teams and saw divisions as unnecessary by that time). However, the long-term effects of Dwyer's poor management of money (especially from that craps game) helped play a major part in the end of the Amerks. During the final season they made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Canada was entering World War II, which led to some of the team's Canadian players leaving for military service. The efforts then led to more players from the franchise leaving for war in the Amerks' final season in New York (finishing dead last there), which led to new owner Red Dutton being forced to sell off his best players that didn't go off to war for cash to help them survive as long as they could. In an effort to help the Americans survive beyond the 1941, the team moved their operations to Brooklyn and became the Brooklyn Americans (1941-1942), though they still played their home games that season in the Madison Square Garden in Manhattan due to Brooklyn not even having a temporary stadium to play in (only areas to help the team practice in that time). Once the war efforts reached American soil, more players left to help fight for the military against the Axis powers, which forced Red Dutton to suspend operations on the last-place team permanently after their sole season in Brooklyn concluded, though Dutton did want the Americans to return to the NHL, to the point where a group in Brooklyn wanted to help build a new ice hockey arena there. Regardless of whether you believe the team actually folded in 1942 officially or 1946 through the NHL's decision against this team's return, the Americans franchise was the last franchise to falter before the start of the "Original Six" era began, as well as the last hockey team in the league to fold before the Cleveland Barons folded by merger in the 1970's.
  • The original Ottawa Senators (1883-1934/54) originally first started as the Ottawa Hockey Club, which existed as an independent hockey team for their first four years of existence as inspired by the Montreal Winter Carnival before briefly playing in the AHAC in 1887. After being dormant for two years due to their ice rink being turned into a roller rink, they returned as the Ottawa Generals under a new arena and competed in the OCHL* in 1890. They continued going on as the Generals and split playing time between the OCHL, the OHA, and the AHAC for the first half of the 1890's, winning the OHA championship for three straight years in 1891-93 and the AHAC championship in January-March 1892, before permanently sticking with the AHAC from the second ever Stanley Cup championship match until 1898. On the note of the Stanley Cup, the Generals were also the first team to witness Lord Stanley reveal the championship that eventually became the Stanley Cup (the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup as it was known as the time) to the public eye. Anyways, the Generals then moved into the CAHL, winning the league's championship in 1901 before leaving to briefly become independent in 1904. During their last two years of the CAHL, as well as their time independently, their time in the FAHL, the amateur turned professional ECAHA, the CHA*, and even their first two seasons in the NHA, the Ottawa Silver Seven were given that new nickname for their seven players providing Stanley Cup dominance from that period of time, holding it for four straight years from 1903-1906 before losing it that final year to the Wanderers as revenge for their Stanley Cup controversy in 1904. After the Silver Seven era ended, the team became the Senators going forward, with them regaining the Stanley Cup three times from 1909-1911 (though they didn't win the NHA championship in 1910) and winning the NHA championship in 1911. Long story short, the original Senators were pretty much the original Montreal Canadiens in terms of Stanley Cup and general championship impact on professional hockey, to the point where the modern Senators claim the original Senators' championships as their own history of sorts. The Senators faced a bit of a decline in the NHA after their first few seasons there, though they did win the NHA championship again in 1915 before moving into the NHL as a charter team there. Ottawa got off to a rocky start in the NHL with the Senators being late for their debut game (at home) due to contract disputes regarding payment against amount of games played in their first season there. After that, their first season and a half had them get into a rocky start in the NHL, finishing last or second place (out of 3 teams at the time) before being considered competitive enough to play in the NHL Playoffs. Once they did, however, they had a new dominant era that resulted in the first ever dynasty in the NHL with the "Super Six", named after the goals scored in the final game of their 1920 Stanley Cup championship series. The team's focus on defense was so strong during the dynasty years of 1920-1924 (winning the Stanley Cup in 1920, 1921, & 1923) that the NHL changed their rules to prevent teams like the original Senators from staying in the defensive zone once the puck left said zone. The Senators then slipped up in the standings after the rule changes combined with the first few expansions at hand, though they did win the Stanley Cup for the last time in 1927 alongside the NHL Canadian division that existed at the time. However, the team's final years had them be in financial trouble due to Ottawa being the smallest place to hold a team with 110,000 people living there at the time, which caused a lot of financial troubles for the team after winning their final Stanley Cup championship. As such, these Senators tried everything they could from playing a certain amount of "home" games in American places like Detroit, Atlantic City, and even Boston to giving away star players for loads of cash to briefly suspending operations for the 1931-32 season to even thinking about moving elsewhere like Toronto or merging with other struggling NHL teams at the time to try and survive. However, due to the struggles caused by the Great Depression, the original Senators ended up moving to St. Louis to become the St. Louis Eagles (1934-1935) for just one season. Unfortunately for the Eagles, their time in St. Louis didn't help matters with them not only finishing in last place again (with an 11-31-6 record that season), but their financial woes worsened due to travel expenses, which caused them to sell even more of their players to survive during the season. That caused the NHL to buy back the team to fold operations and disperse the Eagles' players to other teams after the team asked to suspend operations once again. As for the Senators, they still managed to survive after the professional team moved, though they operated as a senior amateur club by the Montreal Group for the QAHA*, the QSHL*, and the QHL* from 1934 until they stopped existing in 1954, hence the year differences at hand. The "Senior Senators", as they were nicknamed by fans at the time, continued to remain competitive during the Great Depression years, winning the Allen Cup for the QSHL in 1943 (going under the Quebec Commandos at that point in time due to World War II) and 1949 and trying their hand at being professional again in 1953 before the Senators folded operations a year later due to the rise of television giving people their professional hockey needs for Ottawa. And yes, the current Ottawa Senators are named that because of this team's storied history.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates (1915-1930) were a team that's completed unrelated to the Major League Baseball team of the same name. They also originally started out as an independent, amateur hockey team known as the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets in 1915 before going semi-professional in 1921 due to success against teams from the USAHA*. From there, they struggled in their first two seasons before turning things around to become champions of the USAHA in 1924 & 1925 (the latter of which was by default) before the USAHA folded. However, when the team was sold to James Callahan, he was given permission to take the entire Yellow Jackets' roster of the time and make that team compete in the NHL, albeit going under the Pirates name that he took from the MLB team due to the original owner wanting to keep the Yellow Jackets name for later on. In their first season in the NHL, they performed surprisingly well with a 19-16-1 record for third place that season before later losing to the eventual champion Montreal Maroons for the 1926 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Unfortunately for the Pirates, things went downhill from there, as greater expansion in the NHL led to them being out of the playoffs in their second season before returning for the last time in 1928 with a 19-17-8 record. That season, they lost to the eventual champion New York Rangers due to the Rangers scoring more goals than the Pirates in the first round of that series. Things continued to get worse for them once the owner of the team was forced to sell them to New York Americans owners Bill Dwyer and Benny Leonard, who failed to improve the team themselves (or himself once Leonard died due to complications with his appendectomy in 1929). In fact, their records got even worse under the duo's ownership, with them finishing 9-27-8 and 5-36-3 in their final two seasons in Pittsburgh before the Great Depression forced them to sell their best players to other teams and then moved the team to Philadelphia (albeit as a temporary measure at the time) to become the Philadelphia Quakers (1930-1931) for one season. While the team hoped to have a new arena in Pittsburgh to replace the original arena they used there (the Duquesne Gardens), the Quakers managed to have their worse season in franchise history with a 4-36-4 record (yes, only four wins), which used to be the lowest win percentage of any NHL team before the inaugural Washington Capitals somehow managed to finish with a worse percentage by comparison. Even then, due to the Quakers finishing with the tied record for the lowest amount of wins in NHL history (at least in terms of teams that actually finished their regular season periods), Philadelphia shut down operations alongside the original Senators for the 1931-32 season, though unlike the Senators, their shutdown was more permanent due to the Great Depression continuing to take its toll upon the public (though the team was officially considered shutdown in 1936). As for the Yellow Jackets, they revived themselves after the Pirates moved to Philadelphia as a part of both the IHL* and the EAHL*, as well as an independent team before shutting down as a result of the Great Depression as well in 1937 (though that Yellow Jackets team has no obvious connections to the former Pirates and Quakers franchises). The team's existence did help fuel the revival of professional hockey after the end of the "Original Six" era, however, with both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia gaining new teams in the Penguins and the Flyers respectively.
  • The Quebec Athletics (1878-1920) were once the oldest existing franchise of the entire NHL, playing one season there after starting out as the independent Quebec Hockey Club in their early years. This Quebec franchise first played only exhibition matches for a decade straight (including some Montreal Winter Carnival tournaments) before initially playing only one season at the AHAC. The team originally went dormant there for another season afterward before returning to the AHAC from 1892-1898. Once the AHAC folded, they moved on to other amateur hockey leagues from that early era in the CAHL and the ECAHA during the rest of the 1890's and early 1900's before those leagues also folded themselves. Quebec then briefly went to the CHA for its brief, failed season before being included as a new member of the NHA, though they did not play in its first season due to them being unsure of playing there at the time, to the point of being considered outcasts to the NHA at first. They later returned to action for the 1910-11 season going forward, playing as the Quebec Bulldogs according to reporters of the era at the time, though their new start in the NHA didn't go smoothly for the Bulldogs, finishing with a 4-12 record in their first proper season in that league. However, they quickly turned their fortunes around by their next season, going to first place with a 10-8 record against three other teams there before being Stanley Cup (and O'Brien Cup) champions for both 1912 and 1913 (the latter year had them finishing 16-4 against 6 teams in the NHA), though the second Stanley Cup was met with controversy due to the Victoria Aristocrats from the PCHA winning their series 2-1 against Quebec in Victoria instead of as a home series in Quebec.* While they did enjoy those highs from those two seasons, the Bulldogs never managed to repeat that success ever again, as they managed to place third in each of their next three seasons before finishing dead last in the first half of the final NHA season (which featured six teams at the time) before going second place (losing to a tiebreaker against Ottawa) in the second half of that final season when the league dropped down to four teams due to troubles in Toronto. While the Quebec franchise did intend on joining the NHL as a charter member alongside the Montreal Canadiens, the Wanderers, and the original Senators, the Bulldogs were completely unable to secure enough money to move to the NHL for even the first two seasons in the new hockey league before applying as a new franchise in the 1919-1920 season as the Quebec Athletic Club (officially the Quebec Athletics) for that season. In their only season under that name in the NHL, the played poorly despite regaining their star player, Joe Malone, from the Canadiens (finishing dead last with a 4-20 record, tying the Philadelphia Quakers above for the lowest amount of wins in a season, though Quebec only played against three other teams that season). After that season, the NHL purchased the team and moved them to Hamilton to become the Hamilton Tigers (1920-1925) in order to prevent the same belligerent hockey owner that destroyed the NHA from returning to the NHL. For their first four seasons in Hamilton, the Tigers still performed as the worst team in the NHL, winning nine games in their best full season in the league. In their final season, Hamilton looked to be Stanley Cup favorites due to their head coach change being successful for a 10-4-1 start in the first half. However, when they finished their second half of the season with a 19-10-1 record for first place in the league, the players revolted due to them being paid less than what they expected for more games played in a season, which resulted in the first players' strike in NHL history and led to the Canadiens being champions by default while the Hamilton players got fined $200 each and the franchise got permanently suspended for their actions. Interestingly, the entire team got bought out by the New York Americans above when they first entered the NHL (to the point of briefly being named the New York Hamilton Tigers in their inaugural training camp period), but their team history is not officially considered a part of Quebec/Hamilton's team history due to the owners of the players there not also owning the Hamilton Tigers franchise directly.

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: Vegas Golden Knights
  • 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. Although initially it was decided that it would not be awarded during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs due to the temporary suspension of the Eastern Conference, the league instead decided to award it to the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning/New York Islanders semifinal series, since both teams were normally in the Eastern Conference.
    • Current holder: Florida Panthers
  • 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). Although initially it was decided that it would not be awarded during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs due to the temporary suspension of the Western Conference, the league instead decided to award it to the winner of the Montreal Canadiens/Vegas Golden Knights semifinal series. This led to a bizarre situation where the Montreal Canadiens won their first and most likely only Campbell Bowl despite normally playing in the Eastern Conference.
    • Current holder: Vegas Golden Knights
  • 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 as often as they've won the Cup (eight times apiece). The most common fate overall is a second-round elimination, which has happened to twelve winners as of 2023.
    • Current holder: Boston Bruinsnote 

    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: Connor McDavid, 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: Anže Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings
  • 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: Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins
  • 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: Matty Beniers, C, Seattle Kraken
  • 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: McDavid
  • 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: Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks
  • 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: Jonathan Marchessault, RW, Vegas Golden Knights
  • 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: Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguinsnote 
  • 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: McDavid
  • 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.note  Pat Burns has a record three of them.
    • Most Recent Winner: Jim Montgomery, Boston Bruins
  • Frank J. Selke Trophy: Presented since 1978 to the league's top defensive forward. Patrice Bergeron broke a tie with Bob Gainey for the most awards when he won in 2022, and added a sixth selection to his trophy case in 2023.
    • Most Recent Winner: Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins
  • 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: Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins
  • King Clancy Memorial Trophy: One of two "man of the year" awards (acknowledging both on-ice leadership and community service), 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: Mikael Backlund, C, Calgary Flames
  • Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy: Presented since 1999 to the leading goal scorer of the regular season. Alexander Ovechkin has the record for most awards, with nine.
    • Most Recent Winner: McDavid
  • 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: Steven Stamkos, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning
  • 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. As of the 2022–23 season, it's the only major award that isn't presented at the awards show, instead being presented at the NHL Entry Draft. Following the 2019 death of former Maple Leafs GM and NHL executive Jim Gregory, the league added his name to the award. Lou Lamoriello, who had won the 2020 award, became the first two-time recipient in 2021.
    • Most Recent Winner: Jim Nill, Dallas Stars
  • E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence: Presented since 2015 to a prospect judged to have the best combination of character, skill, and athleticism, as determined by NHL Central Scouting. Originally presented at the NHL Entry Draft, but starting in 2023 became part of the awards show.
    • Most Recent Winner: Connor Bedard, C, Regina Pats (Western Hockey League)

Names to know

The NHL has many names worth noting about, from players to managers to exectutives to even mascots. To view them, please refer to the NHL Names to Know page.

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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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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