In a meeting in Montreal’s Windsor Hotel, the National Hockey League was formed and began operation in 1917 with just four teams: the Montreal Wanderers (who would only play a handful of games before folding due to a fire that decimated their home rink), the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Arenas. It wouldn’t be until 1926-27 that the vaunted "original six," consisting of the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings (then the Cougars) and the New York Rangers, would be assembled, with New York and Detroit joining for that season.

That same year the NHL became the owners of the Stanley Cup, officially ending the era of the Cup as a challenge trophy. All six franchises still operate today, and of course the Stanley Cup has become a major icon for the league and for hockey worldwide. While the six teams that now comprise the original six were all in the NHL in the late 1920’s, it wasn’t until 1942 that the league consisted of just those six clubs. Having survived the Great Depression and the outbreak of World War II, the league’s stability was established and it Read More

In a meeting in Montreal’s Windsor Hotel, the National Hockey League was formed and began operation in 1917 with just four teams: the Montreal Wanderers (who would only play a handful of games before folding due to a fire that decimated their home rink), the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Arenas. It wouldn’t be until 1926-27 that the vaunted "original six," consisting of the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings (then the Cougars) and the New York Rangers, would be assembled, with New York and Detroit joining for that season.

That same year the NHL became the owners of the Stanley Cup, officially ending the era of the Cup as a challenge trophy. All six franchises still operate today, and of course the Stanley Cup has become a major icon for the league and for hockey worldwide. While the six teams that now comprise the original six were all in the NHL in the late 1920’s, it wasn’t until 1942 that the league consisted of just those six clubs. Having survived the Great Depression and the outbreak of World War II, the league’s stability was established and it was set for a prosperous period. The NHL operated as a six-team circuit from 1942 until 1967. This era, often referred to as the "golden age" saw the emergence of many great stars, among them Maurice Richard, Max Bentley, Gordie Howe, Doug Harvey, Ted Lindsay, Jean Beliveau, Terry Sawchuk, "Teeder" Kennedy and Glenn Hall.

After many years of stability and unprecedented success, the NHL took the bold step of doubling its size. In 1967, it granted franchises to Minnesota, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, California and St. Louis. The new twelve-team league would be structured in two divisions, so that the new teams would play in their own division while the "original six" teams would form the other, with an established team and a new team meeting in the finals. The St. Louis Blues, stocked with solid NHL veterans, including goaltenders Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante as well as Dickie Moore up front and Doug Harvey on defense, enjoyed much early success although they were always overmatched in the finals. It was the Philadelphia Flyers that emerged as the most successful of the new clubs, capturing the Stanley Cup in just their seventh season.

The NHL expanded quickly and into markets that might not have been ready because they were engaged in a North American turf war against an upstart league, the World Hockey Association. Not since the PCHA had the NHL had a true rival for fans or players. Just like the PCHA, the two leagues battled with each other over players, but after eight tumultuous seasons, the WHA was dissolved and in 1979 four of its franchises were admitted to the NHL, bringing the total to twenty-one teams.

The 1980’s saw the league flourish and two dynasties emerge in the New York Islanders and the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers. A major part of the success of the NHL in the 1980 and ’90’s was the international make up of its talent. In the mid-seventies European-born players began to trickle into the league but by the 1980’s, many teams boasted major stars from other countries. This new pool of talent allowed the NHL to consider further expansion.

As the new millennium began, the NHL comprised thirty franchises. While the club teams are all based in North America, it has become a truly international league. With Wayne Gretzky retired, the star players carrying the league into the next era include players like Jaromir Jagr (Czech), Peter Forsberg (Swedish), Paul Kariya (Canadian), Teemu Selanne (Finnish), Pavel Bure (Russian) and Mike Modano (American) literally coming from all over the world.


© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Maurice "the Rocket" Richard

Maurice "the Rocket" Richard would terrorize opposing netminder's with the crazed look in his eyes.

CHIN

© Imperial Oil-Turofsky/Hockey Hall of Fame


Doug Harvey

Doug Harvey played his first full NHL season in six seasons with the St. Louis Blues in 1968-69. Harvey was 44 years old.

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© Hockey Hall of Fame


The Stars of Today

The stars of today come from all over the world…Mike Modano (USA), Paul Kariya (CAN), Pavel Bure (RUS), Jaromir Jagr (CZE), Peter Forsberg (SWE), Teemu Selanne (FIN).

CHIN

© Dave Sandford/Hockey Hall of Fame.


Red Fisher Discusses the Montreal Canadiens

Red Fisher discusses the Montreal Canadiens. Click 'View the Transcript' for video link

VIDEO

The first five years that I covered the Canadiens, as a beat, they won the Stanley Cup. That had never been done before and never will be done again. The first twenty years that I covered the Canadiens, they’d won twelve Stanley Cups. I said, Hey, this is easy. This is terrific! Does this happen every year? And it was almost happening, it certainly was happening once every two years on an average. And in total, out of the 24 that they’d won, I covered them for 17 of those Stanley Cups. Some people think that I covered them for all 24. I think that the first one they won was in 1896. But, this has been a great, great franchise over the years, filled with great players, great memories and you know, it’s something that few people, in my business, have ever had the pleasure of going through.

CHIN

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Investigate the role that hockey plays in Canada’s national identity
  • Identify significant people involved in hockey in Canada
  • Describe the development of professional hockey in Canada
  • Describe the evolution of the National Hockey League
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the early regional hockey leagues in Canada
  • Investigate the rise of the World Hockey Association and its inclusion into the National Hockey League
  • Examine the history of the Stanley Cup

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