National Hockey League

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National Hockey League
Logo of the NHL

Current season NHL 2019/20
sport ice Hockey
abbreviation NHL
League foundation 1917
Teams 31 (32 from 2021)
Country countries CanadaCanada Canada United States
United StatesUnited States 
Title holder St. Louis Blues (1st Track)
Record champions Canadiens de Montréal (24)
TV partner NBC , NBC Sports , CBC , TSN / TSN2, RDS , RIS , NHL Network

The National Hockey League ( NHL , “ Ligue nationale de hockey ”, LNH in the French-speaking part of Canada ) is a professional ice hockey league in North America that has existed since 1917 . In the USA, the NHL is one of the four most popular leagues, the so-called Big 4, alongside the NFL football league , the MLB baseball league and the NBA basketball league . It is the most popular league in Canada.

Of the total of 31 teams, 7 are based in Canada and 24 in the USA . The winner's trophy for the season winner, who is determined after the regular season in the play-offs according to the best-of-seven mode , is the Stanley Cup . The 2018/19 season title holder is the St. Louis Blues team . The Stanley Cup was founded in 1892 by the then Governor General of Canada , Lord Stanley . The names of all participating players, coaches and managers of the winning team of the finals will be engraved on the trophy. In addition, each player on the winning team can keep the trophy for one day. Originally the Stanley Cup was a challenge cup that was played between the winners of several leagues. Since 1927 it has been awarded exclusively to the winner of the NHL.

The NHL is closely linked to the American Hockey League and the ECHL , so the NHL teams are connected to teams in these leagues as so-called farm teams . Many players selected by the NHL franchises in the NHL Entry Draft often play in the AHL first to gain match practice and experience. The Entry Draft is the usual event in the NHL, at which the clubs can secure the rights to young players. This mechanism is intended to distribute young talent as evenly as possible across the teams.

History of the NHL

The early years (1917–1942)

Starting position and foundation

In 1917, North American ice hockey was still divided into regional groups. Due to the ice hockey strongholds of Montreal and Toronto , the highest league in eastern Canada, the National Hockey Association , was the strongest league in North America. Since 1883, only three non-regional teams had managed to win the Stanley Cup . But there were disagreements in the NHA, as one wanted to exclude the owner of the Toronto Blueshirts , Edward J. Livingstone . So on November 22, 1917, those responsible for the Montréal Canadiens , Montreal Wanderers , Ottawa Senators and Quebec Bulldogs joined forces and founded the National Hockey League. The discussions were led by the managing director of the NHA, Frank Calder . He was named the first President of the NHL by the teams. After the league was founded, Calder immediately tried to win a team from Toronto for the league. He succeeded, and so the Toronto Arenas , later renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs, joined the new league as the fifth team.

The ice hockey of that time is difficult to compare with today's. Apart from Toronto, natural ice was played everywhere. The players and the goalkeepers did not wear helmets. Only back passes were allowed. Any offensive pass was forbidden. A team usually only had around ten players in its squad, so the stars were often on the ice for almost the entire 60 minutes. With the founding of the NHL, goalkeepers were allowed to drop on their knees to defend themselves and to take hold of the puck with their hands. In other leagues at this time, the sixth field player, the so-called rover , was still sometimes played.

The first years

For the first season , Québec decided against participating in the game and so the players of the Bulldogs were divided between the other teams. On December 19, 1917, the first game day was scheduled. A season in two halves was planned. In each half, all teams should play two home and two away games against each other team. The best team of the first and second half should then play off the NHL champions and participants in the Stanley Cup finals against each other. After the Montreal Wanderers hall burned down after just six games, the team withdrew from gaming. The season was played with three teams to the end. The Toronto Arenas prevailed in the playoffs, which were played in two games, due to the better goal difference and won the Stanley Cup as a representative of the NHL.

In the second season , the playoffs were played for the first time according to the " best-of-seven " mode. During the final series, five Montréal Canadiens players fell ill with the Spanish flu . The series was canceled after five games, each with two wins and one draw, on April 1, five days later Montréals defender "Bad" Joe Hall died in the Seattle Columbus Sanatorium as a result of the disease. For the third season , the Québec Bulldogs took part in the game operation for the first time. The arenas were renamed Toronto St. Patricks. Since Ottawa won both halves, a final series was dispensed with. In the season 1920/21 the first time a team was sold. The Québec Bulldogs became the Hamilton Tigers . From the 1921/22 season a continuous regular season was played. At the beginning, the first in the table was automatically qualified for the Stanley Cup final, from the 1923/24 season the final series of the league was played between the first two teams. Frank Nighbor was the first ever winner of the Hart Trophy , which was introduced as the first individual trophy in the NHL. It was during this time that ice hockey games were first broadcast on the radio.

Joe Hall died on April 6, 1919 as a result of the Spanish flu

The first US team in the NHL

For the 1924/25 season , the NHL decided to expand the league from four to eight teams. In addition to the Montreal Maroons , a team from the United States also took part in the game for the first time with the Boston Bruins . For the following season and was New York and Pittsburgh one franchise approved. Before the other teams joined the league, there was a scandal. The league had expanded the schedule from 24 to 30 games with the two new teams, which meant that the players of the Hamilton Tigers demanded a salary adjustment of 200 US dollars, but they were not paid. Therefore, the team refused to participate in the Stanley Cup final. The NHL was represented by the Canadiens, who did not win the title against the Victoria Cougars . It was the only season since the founding of the NHL in which the Stanley Cup winner was not presented. Hamilton was excluded from the NHL for this. A large part of the Tigers players switched to the New York Americans for the 1925/26 season , who were now playing in the league together with the Pittsburgh Pirates . The increasing popularity of the league was not only reflected in the increasing number of teams, salaries also rose. The top earners received fees of up to $ 7,500. Therefore, a salary cap for teams was introduced for the first time . No more than $ 35,000 could be paid per team, which at that time had around ten players.

Stanley Cup is at home in the NHL

The 1926/27 season brought fundamental changes . After the dissolution of the leagues in western Canada, it was decided that the Stanley Cup should only be played in the NHL. With three other teams from the United States, the New York Rangers , Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Cougars , only four of the ten teams came from Canada. The Toronto team should also have been sold to Philadelphia in the United States , but a group around Conn Smythe took over the team and renamed it Maple Leafs. For the first time it was played in two groups, so-called divisions . In the Canadian Division played the four Canadian teams and the New York Americans. The other five teams played in the American Division . In the 1927-28 season , the Rangers were the first US NHL team to win the Stanley Cup. The following season 1928/29 was dominated by the goalkeeper. There were 120 shutouts in the 220 games . There were an average of only 2.9 goals per game. The NHL intervened with a rule change. From the 1929/30 season , forward passes were allowed, but not over one of the two blue lines. The average goal rose to 5.6 and there were only 26 games without a goal. In the same year, Clint Benedict was the first goalkeeper to wear a mask . The regular change of players was also taken into account in the rules. Instead of twelve, there were now 15 players in the squad.

Montréal Canadiens team
photo from October 1942

Crisis years

While the NHL had grown steadily in recent years , the first problems arose with the move of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who played as the Philadelphia Quakers in the 1930/31 game year . The team in Detroit only changed the name. The Cougars became the Falcons. For the following season , the Philadelphia team stopped playing and the Ottawa Senators also took a year off. Despite the crisis, the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto , which at that time offered 13,233 spectators, reopened. The sale of the Detroit Falcons prior to the 1932/33 season did not involve a move. Here the team was renamed Detroit Red Wings . A clearly visible clock had to be installed in all stadiums, on which the playing time could be read. This year, for the first time, the Rookie of the Year was chosen , who was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy . A foul by Eddie Shore on Ace Bailey , which seriously injured him, triggered the first NHL All-Star Game , which was played on February 14, 1934 in Toronto. Bailey received the proceeds from that game. Ottawa had not recovered from its financial difficulties, played as the St. Louis Eagles in the 1934/35 season and gave up a year later. The Montréal Canadiens were also on their way to Cleveland in the 1935/36 season , but three Montreal businessmen bought the team and left it in town. After many years of discussion, the icing rule was introduced. Only seven teams competed in the 1938/39 season . The Montreal Maroons had stopped the game for financial reasons, which was played again in a group. From 1940 it was stipulated that the playing field must be peeled off with water in the third breaks.

When the New York / Brooklyn Americans also stopped playing after the 1941/42 season due to disputes over the Ice Age in Madison Square Garden , the era of the Original Six began with six franchises that still exist today and belong to the National Hockey League.

Well-known players from the early years

(active time and position in brackets)

The 1928-29 season had only 44 games, but no goalkeeper after him came anywhere near the 22 shutouts mark .
In his time he was one of the few defenders who could act as a leader.
With nearly 0.5 goals per game, he was the player with the most NHL points in the mid-1930s.
Between 1937 and 1954, he held the record for most goals in the NHL.
When the star goalie of the early years died in 1926 at the age of 38, there were no trophies for goalkeepers. The Vezina Trophy bears his name today.
A top player of his time was the defender with ten All-Star nominations.
Seven-time Lady Byng Trophy winner . He was then allowed to keep the trophy.
Playmaker and template giver next to which every winger could look good.
The NHL's first star defender made seven appointments to the NHL All-Star Team .
Top scorer of the first season, holds an unattainable record with 2.2 goals per game in one season.
His spectacular style of play made him the first radio broadcast superstar.
The first power forward that earned respect with hard physical effort.
As one of the first offensive defenders, he was one of the top stars in the NHL in his day.
One of the early stars of the NHL, he was two top scorer in the league's early years.
Five-time top scorer and two top scorer in the NHL.
An average of three goals in four games, so far only two players have been more accurate. Templates, however, were not his thing.

The Years of the Original Six (1943–1966)

After three to ten teams played in the NHL in the first few years, the line-up remained unchanged for 25 years with the Boston Bruins , Chicago Blackhawks , Detroit Red Wings , New York Rangers , Montréal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs . The mode for the playoffs also remained unchanged. The first after the regular season played against the third and the second met the fourth. The two winners of the series played out the winner of the Stanley Cup.

The traces of the Second World War

The Second World War did not leave the NHL unaffected. The Boston Bruins' best assault line , the Kraut Line , left the team to fight for their homeland. The New York Rangers were hit particularly hard. At the beginning of the 1943/44 season, only six players from the previous year's squad were available, so their coach Frank Boucher put his skates back on. Even his use did not prevent the Rangers from winning only six games in the season. In total there were 80 players who went to war.

A new rule was introduced at the beginning of this era, now known as the Modern Era . A red center line was introduced in the middle of the playing field. Until then, players were not allowed to pass the puck out of their own defense zone. The puck always had to be passed over this line by a player. The opponents tried to prevent the defending team from doing this. With the introduction of the center line, passes from the defensive zone were allowed if they were accepted before the center line. This rule change had a massive impact on the entire game. The average of goals scored during a game also increased from 7.1 to 8.1.

The Canadian Maurice Richard became the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games within one season

They had six-year original adjusted for each team at the start of the schedule to 50 games, and in the second season this time 1944/45 succeeded Maurice Richard became the first player in NHL 50 goals in 50 games to achieve. With the end of the war, the NHL got a qualitative boost in the 1945/46 season , as a number of stars have now returned to the league. The NHL opened the Hockey Hall of Fame and took on its first twelve members. For the 1946/47 season , the schedule was now adjusted to 60 games per team.

A betting scandal rocked the NHL in the 1947/48 season . One player each from the Bruins and the Rangers is said to have had contact with a dodgy bookmaker. However, it could not be determined that any particular game was postponed. The NHL also played its first regular NHL All-Star Game . So far these games have only been held as charity games. The Toronto Maple Leafs dominated the late 1940s, winning the Stanley Cup three times in a row.

Dominant Canadiens

In the early 1950s, the Detroit Red Wings were the top team in the league. As in previous years, it remained so in the 1950s that you could mostly find the Chicago Black Hawks and the New York Rangers at the bottom of the table. In the 15 years from the beginning of the original Six era to 1957, one of the two teams always came in last. Eight times both ended up in the league together.

For the 1949/50 season the schedule was expanded again. 70 games was now the new brand for one season. First of all, the artificial ice, which had held its natural color until then, was painted white in all stages. The choice of jersey was also uniformly regulated during this period. From the 1951/52 season, the home team always played in jerseys with a white base color. At the end of 1952, the NHL also prevailed on Canadian television. At the beginning there were still fears of a sharp drop in audience numbers. Boston’s Art Ross and Toronto’s Conn Smythe , two of the great officials, resigned and retired in 1954. But not only new heads, but also new technology changed the NHL lastingly. In Toronto, an ice machine invented by Frank J. Zamboni was used for the first time to prepare the ice in the third breaks.

The Stanley Cup win of the Montréal Canadiens in the 1955/56 season was the beginning of an incomparable series of successes for the team. The Habs, the Canadiens' nickname, dominated the league and, especially in the majority game , there seemed to be no means against the Montreal team. After often scoring multiple goals during a 2-minute penalty, the penalty time rule was changed to allow a player to come back from the penalty box after conceding a goal. Montreal was still unstoppable and won the Stanley Cup five times in a row.

Ted Lindsay , one of the star players of the Red Wings, caused a stir off the field during this time. He gathered a few players behind him and promoted the formation of a players union. Then they separated from Lindsay in Detroit. In the 1957/58 season , Willie O'Ree was the first colored player to make his NHL debut. About 30 years after the first goalkeeper to mask denied a game, the goalkeeper of the Canadiens, was Jacques Plante , forced by a facial injury to wear masks. This time the face protection for goalkeepers finally prevailed.

The league before the big change

A team had formed around Glenn Hall , Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita that was able to bring the cup back to Chicago after 23 years. At that time, an average of 11,000 spectators attended the regular season games, with over 14,000 in the playoffs.

After the unsuccessful 1950s, the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup again in 1962. In Detroit, General Manager Jack Adams retired after 35 years. In the 1964/65 season, Ulf Sterner, the first player to learn to play ice hockey in Europe, came to the NHL.

For some time, the NHL had thought about expanding the league. It was still only represented along the eastern border between the United States and Canada. On February 9, 1966, it was decided to take on six more teams from the 1967/68 season . The three US cities that were home to the original Six NHL teams, St. Louis , Pittsburgh and Philadelphia , were to expand the heartland south, with Minnesota they expanded west and with Los Angeles and Oakland they wanted opening up the new market on the west coast as well. While most cities had applied for inclusion, St. Louis came into the league at the urging of the owners of the Chicago Blackhawks, who also owned the St. Louis Arena . However, in Vancouver and Buffalo , which had also hoped for consideration, the disappointment was very great.

The last season of the era, 1966-67 , brought the Toronto Maple Leafs to the oldest Stanley Cup winner of all time. On average, the players were 31.4 years old. The Chicago Blackhawks managed to finish the regular season as leaders for the first time in their history this year.

Well-known players from the original six years

(active time and position in brackets)

103 shutouts and behind Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy the most victories of a goalkeeper are still extraordinary statistics.
An outstanding defender of his time, he has received the James Norris Memorial Trophy seven times .
"Mr. Hockey “has made 21 appointments to the NHL All-Star Team in his long and successful career .
Started with great expectations, but despite good performances did not make it into the hearts of Maple Leaf fans.
The two-time top scorer of the league earned the nickname "Boom-Boom" due to his scoring danger .
With the Montréal Canadiens, he won the Stanley Cup five times in a row and was the support of the team.
Top defender in the strong years of the Red Wings, convinced both offensively and defensively. Nicknamed "Red" because of his reddish hair color.
Because of its speed it was called "Rocket" . He was the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games .
Playmaker of the legendary Kraut Line , interrupted his career for a few years and moved into World War II.
Changed from rough leg to top scorer. Best scorer in the history of the Bruins.
Was the great support of the Black Hawks when they won the Stanley Cup in 1961. His butterfly style earned him eleven nominations for the NHL All-Star Team .
Excellent all-round defender and multiple Stanley Cup winner. Was considered a tower in battle. Founder of a restaurant chain, died in a car accident after a game.
Outstanding ice skater and leader on and off the ice.
"Pocket Rocket" was the name of Maurice Richard's little brother. No other player beats his eleven Stanley Cups.
Tech-savvy center, with whom the young Wayne Gretzky has often been compared.
It wasn't until he was 28 that he came to the NHL and only played seven in it. In six seasons, the goalkeeper who played with two gloves was voted the best goalkeeper in the league.
Started ice hockey late, but became the dominant man on the Black Hawks' blue line.
Four Stanley Cup victories alongside Gordie Howe as the best left winger of his time, founded the first players' union.
One of the best team players in the large Canadiens team. He has suffered numerous injuries throughout his career.
Long-time captain of the Maple Leafs and an ace in the face-off .

The great expansion (1967–1979)

New teams and old pecking order

In the 1967/68 season , the NHL started with six new teams. While the "Original Six" teams played in the Eastern Division , the Los Angeles Kings , Minnesota North Stars , California Seals , Philadelphia Flyers , Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues were added to the Western Division . In November 1967, the California Seals were renamed Oakland Seals . The Seals were tragically involved in another event. During a game against the North Stars on January 13, 1968, Minnesota's center Bill Masterton fell after a check on the back of the head and succumbed to his injuries two days later. To date, it is the only death in the NHL directly attributable to a game injury. As a result, many players decided to wear a helmet, which until then was considered unusual. After the winners of the Eastern and Western Division always clashed in the Stanley Cup, the St. Louis Blues managed to move into the final series in the first three years. The support of the team was the experienced goalkeeper Glenn Hall , who received excellent support from the second season with Jacques Plante . The new teams didn't have a chance against the old teams. A young defender caused a stir with the Boston Bruins. Bobby Orr revolutionized the role of the offensive defender with his style of play. As the first defender, he reached over 100 points in one season and was the top scorer in the entire league.

For the 1970/71 season , the Buffalo Sabers and the Vancouver Canucks were added. Both teams were grouped into the Eastern Division with the former "Original Six" teams and initially struggled against the competition. To get two equally sized divisions, the Chicago Blackhawks moved to the Western Division. After finishing the preseason as the best team of the regular season, they dominated the West for the next three years. In the first two seasons they led their division by 20 points. The Oakland Seals were renamed California Golden Seals in the summer of 1970 .

Gordie Howe , who set a milestone with his 700th goal in 1968, ended his career as the undisputed record scorer after the 1971/72 season just like Jean Béliveau .

Rise of the expansion teams and competition from the WHA

At the beginning of 1971, efforts began with the World Hockey Association to compete with the NHL. At first, the league was only ridiculed by the NHL, but with the new teams, the Islanders , the second team in New York , who started in the Eastern Division in the 1972/73 season , and the Atlanta Flames , who were the first NHL Team in the southeastern USA competed in the Western Division , they tried to compete with the WHA for the market. The WHA tried the one in cities without NHL franchise as Quebec City , Ottawa , Winnipeg and Edmonton in Canada and Houston and Phoenix to take in the American Southwest foot, on the other hand they wanted to the NHL in prestigious cities such as Chicago , Boston and Philadelphia the Face up. At the latest with the signing of some NHL stars like Bobby Hull , Gerry Cheevers , Bernie Parent and Derek Sanderson , the WHA was really taken seriously as a competitor. Another hit for the NHL, Gordie Howe made his comeback in the WHA, where he played with his two sons Mark and Marty .

In the 1973/74 season , the Philadelphia Flyers won the Stanley Cup for the first time, one of the new NHL clubs , which even managed to defend the title in the following season . Since two new teams were added to the NHL this year, the league structure was also adjusted. The Prince of Wales Conference was divided into the Adams Division, named after the founder of the Boston Bruins, with the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabers, California Golden Seals and Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Norris Division, named after the former owner of the Detroit Red Wings, with the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Montréal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and the new Washington Capitals . The Campbell Conference , named after the then NHL President Clarence Campbell , was part of the Patrick Division named after Lester Patrick , one of the founding fathers of the New York Rangers, with the Atlanta Flames, New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as the after Conn Smythe , the founder of the Toronto Maple Leafs, named Smythe Division with the Chicago Black Hawks, Minnesota North Stars, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and the also new Kansas City Scouts .

In the WHA, teams got financial difficulties again and again, but the 1976/77 season also brought two moves in the NHL . Just two years after it was founded, the team moved from Kansas City to Denver and played as the Colorado Rockies there . The other move was of a shorter duration. The California Golden Seals became the Cleveland Barons for two years . After the 1977/78 season , the team was merged with the Minnesota North Stars .

The merger with the WHA

The problems in the WHA got bigger and as early as June 1977 negotiations were made with the NHL about a merger. Six of the eight WHA franchises wanted to join the NHL, but negotiations failed before renegotiating in 1978. With 17 NHL franchises now, they wanted to add three more. Originally, the New England Whalers and the Edmonton Oilers were to join the NHL for the 1978/79 season, while the Winnipeg Jets were supposed to wait a year until their hall was adapted to the NHL regulations and guidelines of the time. The future of the Québec Nordiques was unclear , while the NHL was definitely not interested in accepting the four other WHA teams. But again an agreement could not be reached. The WHA announced that the league could also expand into Europe, and so the NHL was under some pressure, although some teams said they could wait for the WHA to collapse. The WHA teams had meanwhile strengthened themselves with numerous hopeful juniors. Among them, the 17-year-old Wayne Gretzky stood out. They wanted to get him into the NHL at all costs. In a vote on March 8, 1978, five teams decided against accepting the new teams. Among them were the Montréal Canadiens , who were particularly resentful in Canada when three other Canadian teams were supposed to change from the WHA to the NHL. After immense public pressure, only three teams voted against the admission of four WHA teams on March 22nd. Thus, nothing stood in the way of admission to the NHL and the associated expansion to 21 teams.

Well-known players from the expansion years

(active time and position in brackets)

He was only active for seven full seasons. As the best goalkeeper, he won the Vezina Trophy five times and four Stanley Cups.
The best defender of all time pulverized existing defender records and changed the game forever.
He led the once weak Blackhawks to the top of the NHL. After moving to the WHA, he became the “Golden Jet” in Winnipeg .
Led by him, the Flyers became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup.
A star at a young age. After his return from the WHA, he played a major role in the two Stanley Cups of the Flyers.
With the Canadiens he was one of the big three in defense. The robust player won the Stanley Cup six times.
One of the best right wingers in NHL history, was elected to the All-Star Team six times in a row from 1975.
In his time with the Kings he led the Triple Crown Line and was able to win the title of top scorer in Gretzky's first season.
In his rookie season, he remained clean in 15 games. No other NHL goalkeeper managed so many shutouts in modern ice hockey.
He was the first European to be called a star in the NHL.
The player from Slovakia was responsible for the rise of the Blackhawks with Bobby Hull and shone with his fairness.
As a member of the French Connection , he was the dominant player in the ranks of the Buffalo Sabers.
After Bobby Orr's time, he was the star of NHL defenders. In the 80s he was the mainstay for four Stanley Cups of the Islanders in a row.
In the shadow of many stars in Montreal, he was a fixture in the defense of the Canadiens with seven Stanley Cup wins.
He was the first to achieve 100 points in one season. In the heyday of the Bruins, Esposito was the league's top scorer.
In a weak phase of Toronto, he made it to the highest points player in the jersey of the Maple Leafs.

Wayne Gretzky and the 80s (1980–1989)

Four new teams from the WHA and dominance of the Islanders

With the Edmonton Oilers , Hartford Whalers , Québec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets , the NHL now had to integrate four new teams that were still struggling in their first season . While the teams were still in the lower regions of the table, individual players like Mike Rogers and Blaine Stoughton from the Hartford Whalers were among the eight players who came to 100 scorer points or more this season. At the top of the scorer list, Marcel Dionne managed to place himself ahead of Wayne Gretzky , who also scored 137 points, due to the more goals scored . In the same year, helmet requirements were introduced in the NHL. All new players were required to wear a helmet, while players who had played without head protection in the past were allowed to continue to do so.

In the years to come, Gretzky dominated the scorer list almost at will and cracked the 200-point mark as the first and so far only player. However, another team won the Stanley Cup in those years. The New York Islanders completed the playoffs four times in a row from 1980 to 1983. In their ranks stood two Swedes, Anders Kallur and Stefan Persson , who also became the first European Stanley Cup winners .

In the 1980/81 season , the southeastern team of the NHL, the Atlanta Flames , moved to Calgary . This is where the franchise found a better starting point in the neighborhoods of Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver. With the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Calgary in 1988, the construction of a suitable hall was also foreseeable. In the French-Canadian Québec, the two Czechoslovak brothers Anton and Peter Šťastný caused a sensation after they left the national team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid . Peter, the older of the two, scored 109 points in his rookie season. The Colorado Rockies moved to the New York area for the 1981/82 season and played across the Hudson River as the New Jersey Devils . Before the 1982/83 season , the St. Louis Blues were in financial trouble . The team was sold to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Province, on the Canadian prairies, but the owners of the other teams intervened. The NHL took over the team and sold it on for $ 3 million. The Blues did not participate in the NHL Entry Draft this season .

Edmonton and the Gretzky Show

Wayne Gretzky in the jersey of the New York Rangers

In the 1983/84 season, a five-minute overtime was again introduced in the regular season for games that were drawn after the regular 60 minutes. This year Gretzky succeeded for the first time to lead the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup victory, but just as much of the success had his teammates. With Grant Fuhr in goal, defender Paul Coffey with a strong attacking power and attackers like Mark Messier , Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson , to name just a few, the entire team was top-notch. But Gretzky was the star and dominated the leaderboards almost at will. Only Mario Lemieux , who made his debut in the NHL in 1984 , managed to collect two times more points than Gretzky.

With his Oilers Gretzky won a total of four Stanley Cups from 1984 to 1988 , although 1985 had unsuccessfully tried to curb the dominance of the Oilers. Edmonton often tried to force game situations in which both teams had to go to the penalty box. As a result, the playfully strong Oilers around Gretzky used the additional space on the ice in the so-called four-on-four situations for goals. The NHL changed the rules so that from 1985 in such a situation, the team continued to play. This rule change was known as "Lex Gretzky" .

On August 9, 1988, the news that Gretzky was leaving the Oilers and was going to hunt for points for the Los Angeles Kings caused a stir . Edmonton did not win the Stanley Cup in the 1988/89 season , which the Calgary Flames secured and Mario Lemieux was only one point short to reach 200 points in one season alongside Gretzky. The Buffalo Sabers helped Alexander Mogilny escape from the Soviet Union to North America and secured one of the most talented Russian players of the time. This caused a lot of trouble in the Soviet Union, but it was decided in the 1989/90 season to open the doors to the NHL for some deserving players. Among them were Vyacheslav Fetissov , Sergei Makarow and Igor Larionow . In this, his eleventh season, Wayne Gretzky made the leap to become the highest point player of all time when he exceeded his previous record of 1,850 points in a game against his ex-club Gordie Howes . The Edmonton Oilers, who managed to win the Stanley Cup again in 1990 without Gretzky, were particularly surprising.

Well-known players of the 1980s

(active time and position in brackets)

As a support for the Oilers, he was in goal for four Stanley Cup wins.
After many years as the dominant defender of the Bruins, he moved to Colorado in his senior year to finally win the Stanley Cup there. He still holds various records for defenders such as most points, goals and assists. He also took part in every All-Star Game during his career.
"The Great One" is what they call the best player of all time. He set numerous records for the ages, had several seasons with over 200 points and leads the all-time leaderboards of the NHL by a very large margin.
The perfect addition to Wayne Gretzky's side. Often stood in his shadow and yet played a major role in Gretzky's successes.
The physically robust Neely was the prototype of today's Power Forward . He started a trend that many similar types of players followed.
When he advanced from substitute to regular goalkeeper, the Islanders won four Stanley Cups in a row.
He was always in the shadow of his father, but in the 80s he was one of the best defenders in the NHL himself.
In the aftermath of Gretzky, he led the Oilers to another Stanley Cup victory. When he won the Cup with the Rangers four years later, he became the first player to win the Cup as captain with two teams.
Gartner has scored more than 30 goals in 15 consecutive years. He also proved his scoring risk with four goals in an all-star game .
Gainey developed into one of the strongest defensive strikers in NHL history and paved the way for more strikers whose qualities were in defensive play.
Barrasso was not only the best rookie of his year, but was also able to win the Vezina Trophy as the best goalkeeper in the league in his first year .
After a Stanley Cup with Montreal, he was one of the cornerstones of the Washington Capitals. There he won the Norris Trophy twice
As a top striker, he led the Islanders to four Stanley Cups. He reached the 1,000 point mark in just 656 players . Only two players needed fewer games.
After his escape at the 1980 Winter Olympics , he became the first NHL star from the Eastern Bloc . With eight points in a game, he is still in the NHL record books to this day.
As a defensive attacker, he played a major role in two Stanley Cup wins with the Canadiens and one with the Stars. He himself won the Frank J. Selke Trophy three times
Followed in the footsteps of Bobby Orr and broke one of his records with 48 goals in one season as a defender. He helped the Oilers with his offensive direction at three Stanley Cups and took the cup again with the Penguins.
He made a name for himself in the 1980s as one of the top defenders in the league and was the only player to win the Stanley Cup four times in the 1990s.
Even as a rookie, he attracted attention with 95 points. From 1980 to 1982 he made at least one point in 27 consecutive playoff games.
One of the NHL's most dangerous goalscorers. He scored over 40 goals in seven seasons and only failed to hit the 20-goal mark in his final year.
As an excellent playmaker, he led the Whalers as captain at the age of 22. With 1,249 assists, he is only surpassed by Wayne Gretzky in the NHL.

The NHL grows from 21 to 28 teams (1990-1999)

Further expansion and strikes

The first part of the 1990s was dominated by Mario Lemieux with his Pittsburgh Penguins . Next to him were other stars like Jaromír Jágr , Paul Coffey and Ron Francis in the ranks of the team that won the Stanley Cup both in the 1990/91 season and in the following year. The Minnesota North Stars team had already been sold to a new owner in May 1990 . Here they were awarded the contract to split up their franchise, which had been merged with the Cleveland Barons in 1978 , and to found an additional team in California. So came for the 1991/92 season with the San Jose Sharks a 22nd team in the NHL, after the players of the North Stars had been divided between the two teams in the Dispersal Draft . This year the NHL made the discussion about a salary cap difficult for the first time. From April 1, 1992, the players of all teams went on strike for ten days and managed to avert the so-called " salary cap ".

One of the NHL's hopes also refused to play. In the 1991 NHL Entry Draft , the Québec Nordiques , Eric Lindros, had selected a player with the first draft right who was already being traded as the successor to Gretzky and Lemieux, but Lindros, who comes from the English-speaking part of Canada, did not want to go to Franco-Canadian Québec . After a long tug-of-war, he moved to the Philadelphia Flyers , who in return provided the Nordiques with 15 million US dollars, five players, including Peter Forsberg , and two draft rights.

Mario Lemieux won two
Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1990s

Wayne Gretzky was on the best way to lead the Los Angeles Kings to the title in the 1992/93 season , but in the finals they were defeated by the Montréal Canadiens , who only had players from North America in their squad this year and therefore not a single European. Since the Islanders in the 1979/80 season there has always been at least one European in the Stanley Cup winner's squad, and the number of players from Europe continued to grow after that.

Once again, the NHL had a major expansion ahead of it. In 1992, the Canadian capital Ottawa got an NHL team again. Like 58 years earlier, the franchise was christened Ottawa Senators . Eight Canadian teams played in the league, the largest number that has ever played in the once-purely Canadian league. With the Tampa Bay Lightning Florida also got its first NHL team and a year later they received support from the Florida Panthers in Miami . In addition, the Walt Disney Company founded a second team in the Los Angeles area with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim . In addition to the new teams, which were increasingly based in the southern states of the United States, the club from Minnesota also moved and from the 1993/94 season played as Dallas Stars in the US state of Texas . The Stanley Cup this season was won by the New York Rangers , who had last succeeded 54 years earlier, in the 1939/40 season .

The start of the 1994/95 season was overshadowed by a clash between the National Hockey League Players' Association NHLPA and the league. As in April 1992, no agreement could be reached on the introduction of a salary cap per team. The players went on strike and some of the season spent at European clubs where they kept fit. The season began on January 11, 1995 with a delay of 103 days. The game was played according to a shortened schedule and the All-Star Game was canceled.

Strong Red Wings and the relocation of the former WHA teams

In the first half of the 1990s the teams from the East were still dominant, but with the 1995/96 season the balance of power clearly shifted to the West. The Detroit Red Wings , who had to go through a dry spell after the years of the Original Six , lost again to the New Jersey Devils in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals . They also dominated the coming season, but in the final of the Western Conference a new team ended their hopes for the title again. The Québec Nordiques , who once came from the WHA, had moved before this season and were able to win the Stanley Cup and bring them to Denver in their first season as Colorado Avalanche . In the last final game against the Florida Panthers, the first of the new expansion teams to make it into the final series, Uwe Krupp scored the decisive goal in the third overtime . Krupp was the first German to win the Stanley Cup. In the 1997 and 1998 seasons, however, it was the Red Wings' turn and were able to win the Stanley Cup twice in a row. The so-called Russian Five played a major role in the success .

Logo of the NHL until the lockout in 2005

The sale of the former WHA teams also continued. For the 1996/97 season , the former team of the Winnipeg Jets moved to sunny Arizona and played there as Phoenix Coyotes and the Hartford Whalers could not keep up in their homeland and from the 1997/98 season played as Carolina Hurricanes in Greensboro in the US state North Carolina . The Edmonton Oilers were the only franchise that was left of the once four WHA teams.

With the Nashville Predators , the NHL got its 27th franchise in 1998, which reorganized the league. From the 1998/99 season they played in six regional divisions , each with five teams later. In 1999, the league honored Wayne Gretzky, their greatest player, in which Gretzky's shirt number 99 was banned. The number 99 has not been given to any player since then.

Almost 20 years after the Atlanta Flames moved , the NHL returned to the city. After the city built a new stadium, the Atlanta Thrashers went into business from the Millennium Season .

Well-known players of the 1990s

(active time and position in brackets)

The three-time winner of the Vezina Trophy left the ice as the winner in 551 games. This mark was a long record in the NHL until Martin Brodeur broke it.
During his time with the Blackhawks, the three-time James Norris Trophy winner was the figurehead of his team.
He won two Stanley Cups with his penguins. No other player came as close to Wayne Gretzky as "Super Mario" . With 199 points in the 1988/89 season , the three-time winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy failed just barely at the 200 point mark.
A life for the Red Wings, where he was captain for 20 years, longer than anyone else. He was able to hold the Stanley Cup in his hands three times .
Acted as the successor to Gretzky and Lemieux, he refused a contract in Québec. Led the Flyers into the final series in 1997, but was handicapped by multiple concussions in his career .
One of the most successful right wingers of all time, only two right wingers have scored more goals than him in their career.
After failing in Chicago, he switched to the Sabers and became a star, winning the Vezina Trophy six times and the Hart Memorial Trophy twice .
He has been elected to one of the All-Star Teams twelve times . In almost all scorer categories, he is third among the defenders.
He began his career at the side of Mario Lemieux and developed into one of the consistently best scorers in the NHL. He won the Art Ross Trophy four times as best scorer .
As a playmaker, he led the Maple Leafs in the early 1990s. He won his two Stanley Cups with the Flames and the Devils.
Only moving from Québec to Denver made him switch teams. From 1991 to 2007 he was not called up for the All-Star Game only once . He won all major trophies during this time.
Known as the rough leg, he was one of the keys to success in the 1995 Stanley Cup victory for the Devils. He moved to Denver and won the Cup there again.
He prevailed against Dominik Hašek in Chicago. Started in 1991 as a top rookie and then mostly played in the NHL All-Star game.
At the end of his career, he was the Americans with the most appearances with 1,495 games, but has now been overtaken by Chris Chelios.
The son of legendary Bobby Hull scored 741 goals in his career. Only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe were more successful.
With an almost unbelievable 132 points in his first NHL season, he still holds the record for rookies. In 2007 he won the Stanley Cup.
In 1988 he was the top pick in the draft . Was the team's figurehead in Minnesota and after moving to Dallas. There he also heads the list of the team's best scorers by far.
As a playmaker, he was always overshadowed by other stars, but at the end of his career he looked back on 1,079 assists and made it into the all-time top 10 in this category.
For many years he was the chief of the New York Rangers' blue line. When his team won the Stanley Cup in 1994 , he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy .
The tough defender became the star of the 90s with the Devils. He led his team to three Stanley Cup wins. He has been on the ice in 1,635 NHL games.
Only scored less than 50 points twice in one season in his career. He won the Stanley Cup after moving to the Red Wings.
The Los Angeles Kings top scorer is the most successful left winger in the NHL. With 668 goals and 1394 points, he leads the leaderboards.
Exchanged in a package for Eric Lindros to Québec, he became a lucky find for the franchise. After the team moved, he was the star of the Avalanche and won the Stanley Cup twice with the team.
Earned the name “Russian Rocket” because of its speed , it led the Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. During his years in Florida, he won the Maurice Richard Trophy twice .

The new millennium (since 2000)

The south is attracting attention

In 2000, the league reached the strength of 30 teams with the inclusion of the Minnesota Wild from Saint Paul , Minnesota and the Columbus Blue Jackets from Columbus , Ohio . The Wild are the first team from the state of Minnesota after the Minnesota North Stars were relocated to Texas in 1993 . At that time, the league had promised fans that they would again set up a franchise in Minnesota in the future. In 2003, Edmonton hosted the first regular open-air NHL game. The encounter between the Edmonton Oilers and Montréal Canadiens was held as the Heritage Classic on November 22nd at the Commonwealth Stadium at temperatures of −18 ° C and in front of 57,167 spectators.

The 2004/05 season fell completely victim to a players ' strike after the players' union and league could not agree on the extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement . The club owners demanded the introduction of a salary cap , a salary cap for players, which was strictly rejected by the National Hockey League Players' Association due to the disproportionately high growth in player salaries compared to the income . After the start of the season was initially postponed indefinitely, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced on February 16, 2005 the cancellation of the entire season. This was the first cancellation of a full season in a professional league in the history of US sport. It was only in July that both sides agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which also contained an upper salary limit for players.

In the first season after the lockout, there were various rule changes, such as the abolition of ties and a zero tolerance rule for the punishment of disabilities, which should make the sport faster and more open after the one-year break and give preference to technically savvy players. The changes, some of which were controversial, led to a higher goal rate per game. The teams scored an average of 6.1 goals per game in the 2005/06 season , which was more than one goal over the 2003/04 season and the highest increase since 1930. However, the number of hits per game decreased again significantly in the following years and the limited scope in the salary structure of many teams allowed only a few transfers.

2008 NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium

In the 2005/06 season also began the careers of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovetschkin , both of whom were both the Art Ross Trophy for the top scorer and the Hart Memorial Trophy for the Most Valuable Player of the regular season during their first three seasons in the league could win. The success of the Heritage Classic also meant that more NHL games were played in the open air in the following years. The Buffalo Sabers hosted the 2008 NHL Winter Classic on New Years Day , which they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of 71,217 at Ralph Wilson Stadium after a shootout . The second Winter Classic was held on January 1, 2009 between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field , the NHL Winter Classic 2010 took place on January 1, 2010 in Fenway Park in Boston between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers .

In the summer of 2011 there were rumors that an attempt was being made to bring an NHL team back to Winnipeg. For a long time, the Phoenix Coyotes were considered possible candidates , but in the end the Atlanta Thrashers moved, leaving Atlanta without an NHL team. Much attention was made about the new name and it was a secret for a long time. It was not revealed until the 2011 draft that the new team would compete under the old name of Winnipeg Jets .

After the new millennium saw increasingly decreasing audience interest in US television, the audience ratings, as well as the number of visitors, rose again after the lockout in the 2004/05 season. In order to be able to market the league better worldwide, the opening games have been held on other continents since 2007. After the San Jose Sharks and the Calgary Flames had played a game in Tokyo in the run-up to the 1998 Winter Olympics , the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks met in 2007 at the O₂ Arena in London , and a year later four teams played in Stockholm and Prague from.

Since the introduction of the salary cap for the 2005/06 season, which then set a salary cap of 39 million US dollars, the maximum salary cap has increased by several million US dollars annually. After the salary limit was raised to 59.4 million by the 2010/11 season, it rose to around 64 million for the 2011/12 season. The salary floor, a lower salary limit, was also established with the establishment of the upper salary limit in 2005. This was initially around 22 million US dollars and was increased to 43.4 million by the 2010/11 season. For the 2011/12 season, the lower salary limit was further increased and raised to around 48 million. Finally, in the course of June 2011, it was announced that the final salary cap for the 2011/12 season had been raised by a further 300,000 US dollars compared to the forecast and was set at 64.3 million. This represented an increase of almost five million over the previous season.

With the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and Anaheim Ducks in 2007, teams from the southern United States won the Stanley Cup three times in a row . Previously, with the Dallas Stars in 1999, a team from the southern expansion had won the trophy.

Since the 2017/18 season, the Vegas Golden Knights have been the 31st team to take part in NHL gaming. They reached the Stanley Cup final in their first season. No expansion team in the major North American professional leagues has achieved anything comparable in its first year . In addition, it was officially announced at the end of the year that a Seattle- based 32nd franchise would be added to the league at the beginning of the 2021/22 season . This was named Seattle Kraken in July 2020 .

Well-known players of the 2000s

(active time and position in brackets)

Brodeur was in the goal of the New Jersey Devils from 1992 to 2014, with whom he won the Stanley Cup three times. In addition, the goalkeeper , who has won the Vezina Trophy four times, won the gold medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Games . Brodeur holds all the major records for goalkeepers in the NHL and is believed to be the best goalkeeper in NHL history
The Finn won both the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals conceded and the Vezina Trophy for best goalkeeper in 2006 . Kiprusoff set a new NHL record in 2005 with 1.69 goals conceded per game and was also in the 2007 NHL All-Star Game .
The goalkeeper participated in the 2005 and 2007 NHL All-Star Games . The 2004 World Champion and 2010 Olympic Champion has also been elected twice to the NHL Second All-Star Team .
The Russian was already elected to the NHL All-Star Game and the NHL All-Rookie Team in his NHL premiere season 2000/01 . He also received the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie of the Year. In 2008 he again took part in the All-Star Game.
Blake won the 2001 Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche . He took part in an NHL All-Star Game seven times, and in 1998 he received the James Norris Memorial Trophy for Most Valuable Defender. He also won Olympic gold with Canada in 2002 .
The Swede has won the Stanley Cup four times with the Detroit Red Wings, and he can boast eleven All-Star-Game appearances and seven James Norris Memorial Trophies as best defender. Considered one of the best defenders in NHL history. With Sweden he won gold at the 2006 Olympics.
Niedermayer won the Stanley Cup four times, three times with New Jersey. In addition, the Olympic champion took part in four All-Star Games in 2002 and 2010 and won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as best defender in 2004 and the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the play-offs in 2007 .
Despite more than 1000 league games, five all-star game appearances and four individual league awards, the defender won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 . With Canada , Pronger won the 1997 World Cup and Olympic gold in 2002 and 2010 .
Subow was as an attacking defender in 1994, along with three fellow countrymen, the first Russian to win the Stanley Cup. In 1999 , the 1994 Olympic champion repeated the success with the Dallas Stars. He also took part in three All-Star Games.
Although he was called up five times in an NHL All-Star Game and completed almost 1,300 NHL games, the American could not win the Stanley Cup with any of his teams. With the Team USA won the World Cup in 1996 and Olympic silver 2002 .
The first pick from 2005 and multiple top scorer in the league was able to achieve a total of six milestones and awards as the youngest player in NHL history. In 2007 he became the youngest team captain in NHL history. In 2009 , 2016 and 2017, Crosby won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh and in 2010 and 2014 he was Olympic champion with Team Canada .
Fyodorov was the first Russian to reach 1000 NHL points. During his career he won three Stanley Cups, four league awards and played six All-Star Games. With Russia he won Olympic silver and bronze as well as three world titles.
The Swede won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche, he also played five All-Star Games and won the Calder Memorial Trophy as best rookie in 1995 , the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP of the 2001/02 season and the Plus / Minus Award 2003.
The 2002 rookie competed in three All-Star Games and moved to the San Jose Sharks in 2009 to win the Stanley Cup. However, this did not succeed. With the Canadian national team , Heatley won the world championships in 2003 and 2004 .
The Canadian won seven individual awards, including three in his best season to date, the 2001/02 season . With the Team Canada won Iginla gold at the World Cup in 1997 , the World Cup 2004 and the Olympics in 2002 and 2010 .
Kariya took part in seven All-Star Games, five of them in a row between 1999 and 2003. As a player with a high sporting standard and exemplary behavior, he won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1996 and 1997 .
The Finn moved to the NHL in 1992, where he was named rookie of the season . The 2007 Stanley Cup winner took part in a total of ten All-Star Games and won the Maurice Richard Trophy in 1999 and the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2006 .
The forward played for the Montreal Canadiens for 13 seasons prior to joining the Anaheim Ducks, winning the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy and King Clancy Memorial Trophy during that time . Koivu was also nominated twice for the All-Star Game.
The two-time world champion switched to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2001 after a successful career start in his home country. Kovalchuk has so far participated in three All-Star Games and won the 2004 Maurice Richard Trophy as the best goalscorer of the regular season. He returned to Russia in 2013. At the beginning of the 2018/19 season, the LA Kings announced the signing of Kovalchuk, who will return to the NHL as an active player.
The attacker completed over 1000 NHL games in his career without being able to win the Stanley Cup. Naslund participated in five All-Star games and was 2003 by the NHLPA with the Lester B. Pearson Award as the MVP award of the regular season.
The 2006 Calder Memorial Trophy winner was elected to the NHL First All-Star Team in his first year in the NHL . Since 2007 he has been nominated five times for the NHL All-Star Game and was on the First All-Star Team five times in a row. In 2008 he received four and in 2009 three individual league awards. He is the LW with the most goals in a season (65 goals in 2007/08 ).
In 2003, Sundin was the first Swede to reach the 1000-point mark. Despite almost 1,500 NHL games and seven All-Star Game appearances, the three-time world champion and Olympic champion in 2006 could not win the Stanley Cup.
The Canadian has played six All-Star Games so far and was awarded the Art Ross Trophy as top scorer and the Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player of the regular season in 2006. With Canada he won the World Cup of Hockey in 2004 .
The 1998 First Pick has taken part in four All-Star Games so far and in 2007 won the Maurice Richard Trophy as top scorer. In 2004 he won the World Cup of Hockey 2004 with Team Canada as MVP .

NHL All-Decade Team (2010-2019)

First team
Item Surname team Active in the NHL
G CanadaCanada Marc-André Fleury Pittsburgh Penguins
Vegas Golden Knights
since 2003
D. CanadaCanada Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings since 2008
D. CanadaCanada Duncan Keith Chicago Blackhawks since 2005
F. United StatesUnited States Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks since 2007
F. RussiaRussia Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals since 2005
F. CanadaCanada Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins since 2005
Second team
Item Surname team Active in the NHL
G SwedenSweden Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers since 2005
D. SlovakiaSlovakia Zdeno Chára Boston Bruins since 1997
D. SwedenSweden Erik Karlsson Ottawa Senators
San Jose Sharks
since 2009
F. CanadaCanada Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins since 2003
F. CanadaCanada Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning since 2008
F. RussiaRussia Yevgeny Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins since 2006

Regional development

Teams and structure of the NHL

When the NHL was formed in 1917, it was a regional league for the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec . Since that time there has only been a team in the league from the cities of Montreal and Toronto . The first US teams were added in the mid-1920s. Two locations, Boston and New York City , were directly on the east coast, the other two, Chicago and Detroit , were on the Great Lakes near the Canadian border. Other locations, which before the time of the Original Six mostly housed an NHL team for a short time, were located in the United States a little further south in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh . The attempt in St. Louis to station a team further in the southwest caused major problems, not least because of the extensive travel to away games, and failed after a short time.

The next move was made in the late 1960s. In addition to the return to the three former cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis and an expansion in the north along the Canadian border to Minnesota , two teams were placed on the west coast in Oakland and Los Angeles for the first time. In the years to come, teams followed on the west coast of Canada in Vancouver , in the interior of the United States in Kansas City and in the southeast in Atlanta . At the same time, the former heartland was strengthened with teams in Buffalo , Washington, DC and a second team in New York. Most of the locations were able to hold their own, but others were abandoned. A franchise moved from Oakland to the heartland in Cleveland , where it did not find a permanent home. From Kansas City, the team moved to Denver for three years , before a third team was located in New Jersey in the New York area. With the takeover of four teams from the World Hockey Association , Canada in particular was strengthened. After Quebec , the NHL returned after 50-year absence. In Winnipeg , the league now had a team in the interior of Canada and the Canadian west got its second mainstay in Edmonton . Then there was Hartford, a city between Boston and New York. The move from Atlanta to Calgary in 1980 led to a corresponding density in western Canada, while the south-east was left without an NHL team for the time being.

The 1990s stand for the conquest of market shares in the southern regions of the USA, the so-called Sun Belt . In San José , the void that Oakland had left almost 20 years earlier was closed, and Los Angeles got a close neighbor in Anaheim . Florida got two teams in Tampa and Miami , and Canada got a franchise again after 60 years in the capital Ottawa . There were also a number of relocations. It started with the move from Minnesota to Dallas , Quebec was left again and the franchise returned to Denver, a team from Winnipeg moved to Phoenix and the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina .

Another expansion in the southeast reached the NHL with new teams in Nashville and Atlanta, where the league returned after 20 years. The NHL oriented itself a little further north at the two locations for two teams that have been playing in the league since 2000. Columbus , Ohio and St. Paul , Minnesota joined the NHL as new locations. Winnipeg has had a team in the NHL again since the 2011/12 season . If you want to understand this as a trend reversal towards the north, you can also classify earlier considerations of moving the team from Nashville to Hamilton , Canada , in this way. In 2017, Las Vegas, another city in the south of the USA, received a team.

Group division

With the initial four teams in the NHL, a division into groups was not yet necessary. It was only with the steady expansion in 1926 that the league was divided into the American Division and Canadian Division . The teams were thus regionally separated by country, only the New York Americans played with the Canadian teams. Even then it was common in the NHL to play more and more against the teams from its own division, but games against all teams from the other division were also played. In 1939, the league was again merged into a group due to numerous dissolutions of teams.

Development of the NHL teams

It was not until 1967, when the league was expanded from six to twelve teams, that it was again divided into two divisions . The league was divided into the Eastern Division and the Western Division . However, a geographical division was not used here, as the names suggest. The former original Six franchises played in the Eastern Division, the new teams in the Western Division. The league continued to grow and this was taken into account in 1974 when the NHL introduced two conferences with two divisions each. In the Campbell Conference , named after Clarence S. Campbell , the then NHL President, the Smythe Division was arranged with the western teams. Until 1981, the Patrick Division with the teams from the New York area was the second division. After that, the Norris Division belonged to the Campbell Conference. Mostly teams from the middle of the United States played here. The other teams played in the Prince of Wales Conference , which was assigned to the Adams Division with the teams from the Northeast. This included the Norris Division until 1981, which was replaced by the Patrick Division.

Since 1993 the league has been divided into an Eastern and a Western Conference . There, until 1998, the old divisions continued to play and these were replenished with the newly founded franchises. When the Nashville Predators were added as the 27th franchise for the 1998/99 season , the number of divisions was increased from four to six. With the inclusion of the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2000/01 season, these reached a strength of five clubs each.

For the 2013/2014 season, the conferences were reorganized, which was made necessary by the newly created or relocated franchises. From now on, each conference will only be played in two divisions, with the Eastern Conference with 16 teams one more than the Western Conference. To that end, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference, while Winnipeg went the opposite way.

Eastern Conference

Surname Location NHL member since Stadion capacity opening
Atlantic Division
Boston Bruins Boston , Massachusetts 1924/25 TD Garden 17,565 1995
Buffalo Sabers Buffalo , New York 1970/71 KeyBank Center 18,690 1996
Detroit Red Wings Detroit , Michigan 1926/27 Little Caesars Arena 20,000 2017
Florida panthers Sunrise , Florida 1993/94 BB&T Center 19,250 1998
Canadiens de Montréal Montreal , Quebec 1917/18 Center Bell 21,273 1996
Ottawa Senators Ottawa , Ontario 1992/93 Canadian Tire Center 17,000 1996
Tampa Bay Lightning Tampa , Florida 1992/93 Amalie Arena 19,758 1996
Toronto Maple Leafs Toronto , Ontario 1917/18 Scotiabank Arena 18,819 1999
Metropolitan Division
Carolina Hurricanes Raleigh , North Carolina 1997/98 PNC Arena 18,680 1999
Columbus Blue Jackets Columbus , Ohio 2000/01 Nationwide Arena 18,136 2000
New Jersey Devils Newark , New Jersey 1982/83 Prudential Center 17,625 2007
New York Islanders New York City , New York 1972/73 Barclays Center 15,795 2012
New York Rangers New York City , New York 1926/27 Madison Square Garden 18,200 1968
Philadelphia Flyers Philadelphia , Pennsylvania 1967/68 Wells Fargo Center 19,519 1996
Pittsburgh Penguins Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania 1967/68 PPG Paints Arena 18,387 2010
Washington Capitals Washington, DC 1974/75 Capital One Arena 18,277 1997

Western Conference

Surname Location NHL member since Stadion capacity opening
Central Division
Chicago Blackhawks Chicago , Illinois 1926/27 United Center 20,500 1994
Colorado Avalanche Denver , Colorado 1995/96 Pepsi Center 18.007 1999
Dallas Stars Dallas , Texas 1993/94 American Airlines Center 18,532 2001
Minnesota Wild St. Paul , Minnesota 2000/01 Xcel Energy Center 18,064 2000
Nashville Predators Nashville , Tennessee 1998/99 Bridgestone Arena 17.113 1996
St. Louis Blues St. Louis , Missouri 1967/68 Enterprise Center 19,250 1994
Winnipeg Jets Winnipeg , Manitoba 2011/12 Bell MTS Place 15,294 2004
Pacific Division
Anaheim Ducks Anaheim , California 1993/94 Honda Center 17.174 1993
Arizona Coyotes Glendale , Arizona 1996/97 Gila River Arena 17,799 2003
Calgary Flames Calgary , Alberta 1980/81 Scotiabank Saddledome 19,289 1983
Edmonton Oilers Edmonton , Alberta 1979/80 Rogers Place 18,641 2016
Los Angeles Kings Los Angeles , California 1967/68 Staples Center 18,118 1999
San Jose Sharks San Jose , California 1991/92 SAP Center 17,562 1993
Vancouver Canucks Vancouver , British Columbia 1970/71 Rogers Arena 18,630 1995
Vegas Golden Knights Paradise , Nevada 2017/18 T-Mobile Arena 17,500 2016

Stadiums and spectators


After just six games in the first NHL season , the stadium in Montreal played a major role. It burned down and the Montreal Wanderers had to stop playing. In the further course of NHL history, stadiums were decisive for the choice of location, relocations and disbandments of teams. In 1930 the Pittsburgh Pirates moved from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia because the stadium was too small so that they could play in a new building. It was 37 years before the NHL relocated a franchise in Pittsburgh . In 1931 Toronto was the last of the later " Original Six " cities to build a new stadium with the Maple Leaf Gardens . It held around 15,000 spectators and at that time corresponded to what one would expect from a modern stadium. The New York Americans were also looking for an alternative venue to Madison Square Garden until 1942 . An unsolvable endeavor during wartime, so they left the league with six teams behind.

When choosing the six cities for the 1967 NHL expansion, St. Louis was on the list for its large stadium owned by the Chicago Blackhawks . In the San Francisco Bay Area, however , the league management speculated on the construction of a new hall in San Francisco and placed the team in Oakland for the time being . The construction did not materialize, and so the team left California after nine years. The situation was different in Calgary. When the Flames came from Atlanta, the team had to play in a hall that could seat 8,000. The upcoming Olympic Winter Games ensured the short-term construction of a suitable hall.

Even with the expansion of the NHL in the 1990s, the league often went in advance. In San Jose, the team played for two years in a hall with just over 10,000 seats before the new stadium was completed. The situation was the same in Ottawa and Tampa. The Florida team helped themselves, however, by moving to the Thunderdome after a year , a stadium designed for American football games that was specially converted for ice hockey games. Here the team also set a new NHL record with 27,227 spectators. In the 1990s, new stadiums were built in most of the NHL cities. Many of the old stadiums were centrally located in the city centers and the existing infrastructure was used by building the new stadium close to the old location, for example in Boston and Buffalo . In Vancouver , the planners followed many other models and built the new stadium in a central location, while the arena in Chicago was pulled a little out of the center and in Florida the venue was relocated from Miami to a suburb of Fort Lauderdale . The Carolina Hurricanes also had a planned relocation ahead of them. Since the stadium in Raleigh was not yet completed, the team played in Greensboro for the first two years . The Buffalo Sabers experienced that there is also a risk in the new buildings when the video cube came loose overnight and fell onto the ice surface. The new and current attendance record was set on January 1, 2008 in Orchard Park at the NHL Winter Classic 2008 when the Buffalo Sabers played against the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second time in NHL history in the open air at Ralph Wilson Stadium in front of 71,217 spectators.

season Average audience viewers
2018/19 17.377 22,002,081
2017/18 17.446 22,174,263
2016/17 18.117 21,525,777
2015/16 17,573 21,615,397
2014/15 17,507 21,533,419
2013/14 17,690 21,758,905
2012/13 1 17,767 12,792,707
2011/12 17,454 21,468,121
2010/11 17.164 21.112.139
2009/10 17,070 20.996.455
2008/09 17,460 21,475,223
2007/08 17,265 21.236.255
2006/07 16,486 20,277,780
2005/06 16,995 20,854,169
2003/04 16,550 20.356.199
2002/03 16,591 20,408,704
2001/02 16,760 20,614,613
1995/96 15,987 17,041,614
1990/91 14,695 12,343,897
1986/87 14,114 11,855,880
1982/83 13,120 11.020.610
1978/79 11,409 7,758,053
1974/75 13,224 9,521,536
1968/69 12,172 5,550,613
1966/67 14,689 3,084,759

1 - season shortened due to lockouts

Today, 28 of the 30 teams play in stadiums built in 1993 and later. The oldest stadium, Madison Square Garden , is in New York. The Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, which opened in August 2010, replaced the Mellon Arena , built in 1961 , which was previously the oldest venue in the NHL. The newest stadium is Little Caesars Arena , which the Detroit Red Wings have been using since the 2017/18 season. The stadiums in Montreal (21,273) and Chicago (20,500) are the largest, while only the Winnipeg Jets (15,294) and New York Islanders (15,795) have fewer than 17,000 seats.

Naming rights

With the exception of Madison Square Garden in the New York metropolis, all NHL stadiums have an advertising medium in their name. American Airlines paid the highest price for the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The naming rights for 30 years - 6.5 million per year - were sold for 195 million dollars.

The stadium in Boston had by far the most names. Shortly before the opening of the hall, the original owner of the naming rights, which was Shawmut Bank of Fleet Bank was taken over. The stadium was opened as a fleet center . After the Fleet Bank was also taken over, the contracts were bought out. In the time until a new namesake was found, interested parties could buy the naming rights for one day on 30 days via the auction house eBay . The 32nd name is still relevant today. It should be called TD Banknorth Garden by 2025 .


The NHL has officially published attendance figures since the 1960/61 season . This year the teams sold over 2.3 million tickets in the 210 games. This resulted in an average of 11,000 spectators per game. By the end of the “Original Six” era , the number of viewers rose continuously to over three million with an average of almost 14,700. With six new teams there were 444 games for the 1967/68 season . The league still failed just under five million viewers, which were reached in the following year. However, the average per game fell back to 11,122. Before the World Hockey Association started playing, the NHL had reached over 7.6 million viewers in the 1971/72 season and stayed just under 14,000 on average. When the teams had 720 games on the schedule for the 1974/75 season , a new attendance record was achieved with 9.5 million, but by the last season of the 1978/79 WHA , the attendance figures fell continuously to 7.7 million and an average of 11,400 from.

Four more teams, no competition and Wayne Gretzky in the league, increased demand again. In the 1979/80 season , more than 10 million viewers were booked for the first time and the average viewer, which this year was 12,540, rose to almost 15,000 over the next ten years.

New teams with small stadiums brought more games and increased the absolute number of spectators, but they also reduced the cut. In 1992/93 the teams played over 1,000 games for the first time and attracted over 14 million spectators, but the average had dropped to a good 14,000. New stadiums in many cities helped to further increase this. In 1995/96 the audience exceeded the 17 million mark. That was an average of 15,983 spectators and since the following season the 16,000 has never been undercut.

In the 2009/10 season , an average of 17,070 spectators attended the NHL regular season games. As in the previous year, the Chicago Blackhawks had the best average attendance with 21,356 visitors, while the Phoenix Coyotes came in last with 11,989 visitors per home game. The total number of viewers for the more than 1,200 regular season games was just under 21 million.

season Average
entry price
Most expensive
2014/15 $ 62.18 $ 33.39 $ 113.66 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
2013/14 $ 61.62 $ 37.28 Dallas Stars Logo 2013.svg $ 122.20 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
2012/13 $ 61.01 $ 36.09 Logo Dallas Stars.svg $ 124.69 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
2011/12 $ 57.39 $ 29.95 Logo Dallas Stars.svg $ 123.77 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
2010/11 $ 54.25 $ 29.68 Logo Dallas Stars.svg $ 115.96 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
2009/10 $ 51.27 $ 35.66 Logo Dallas Stars.svg $ 114.10 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
2008/09 $ 49.66 $ 29.94 Logo St Louis Blues2.svg $ 76.15 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
2007/08 $ 48.72 $ 25.48 Logo St Louis Blues2.svg $ 88.32 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
2006/07 $ 43.13 $ 25.41 $ 58.96
2005/06 $ 41.19 $ 26.15 Carolina Hurricanes Logo.svg $ 54.81 Logo Philadelphia Flyers.svg
2004/05 - - -
2003/04 $ 43.57 $ 29.76 $ 57.11 Logo Detroit Red Wings.svg
2002/03 $ 41.56 $ 29.36 Logo Edmonton Oilers.svg $ 57.06 Logo Philadelphia Flyers.svg
2001/02 $ 41.02 $ 27.72 Logo Edmonton Oilers.svg $ 54.71 Logo Philadelphia Flyers.svg
2000/01 $ 47.70 $ 32.86 Logo Calgary Flames.svg $ 67.01 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
1999/00 $ 46.38 $ 27.85 Logo Calgary Flames.svg $ 69.92 Logo Toronto Maple Leafs.svg
1998/99 $ 42.78 $ 26.04 Logo Calgary Flames.svg $ 58.83 New York Rangers Logo.svg
1997/98 $ 42.15 $ 21.90 Logo Calgary Flames.svg $ 58.83 New York Rangers Logo.svg
1996/97 $ 38.04 $ 23.42 Logo Edmonton Oilers.svg $ 52.58 Boston Bruins.svg
1995/96 $ 34.72 $ 20.68 Logo Edmonton Oilers.svg $ 52.58 Boston Bruins.svg
1994/95 $ 33.49 $ 19.84 Logo Tampa Bay Lightning.svg $ 42.21 Logo St Louis Blues.svg

Entrance fees

For a long time the entrance fees to ice hockey were very cheap. A look back at the first season of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931 shows admission prices starting at one and up to three dollars in the most expensive seats. The price range widened somewhat in the following years. At times you could buy the cheapest tickets for 60 cents and around 1950 the ticket prices were between 0.90 and 3.50 dollars. Even at the beginning of the 1960s, you could go to the stadium from just one dollar. In 1971, $ 7.70 was paid for the most expensive place. The Maple Leafs charged between $ 5 and $ 15 in the early 1980s.

For the 1991/92 season there were no more tickets for less than ten dollars. Standing or top row seats were charged at $ 16. If you wanted to sit near the ice rink, you had to pay up to $ 40. The price jump was in full swing in the 1994/95 season . The average ticket in the NHL was $ 33.49. In the years to come the price screw was tightened and by the 2000/01 season , prices had increased by 42.5%. Now the card cost an average of $ 47.70. If you take a closer look at this price jump, you will notice some special features. New stadiums like in Toronto (+ 87.8%), but also relocations from the once cheap Québec to the now expensive Denver (+ 99%) were the main reasons. The Tampa franchise played in a 28,000-seat stadium in 1994, but not all fields for ice hockey. This resulted in the cheapest average price in the league at under $ 20. It was obvious that the price had been adjusted to just over $ 40 in a new stadium with better visibility and good comfort. But there were also positive examples during this period. In St. Louis they had noticed that they had been too expensive in the past and so the prices only increased by 6% during this time and after a price increase of only 8% at the Islanders they moved from a middle position in the entry prices developed to the second cheapest. Only in Calgary was it cheaper at $ 32.86. A year later, prices collapsed, which was particularly noticeable in Toronto, where ticket prices fell by an average of almost $ 23. Since then, the league-wide average price rose from 41 to over 54 dollars.

The average ticket price for the 2007-08 season was $ 48.72. Tickets were particularly cheap in St. Louis, where the average ticket price was $ 25.48, and very expensive in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New Jersey, Calgary, and Edmonton, where the average ticket cost more than $ 60 each .

In total, the NHL generated around $ 1.1 billion from ticket sales. The croesus was the Toronto Maple Leafs , who took 1.9 million dollars in entry fees per home game, the Phoenix Coyotes brought up the rear with 450,000 dollars per home game.

In the following years, the average price continued to rise significantly, with admission prices in the 2010/11 season, especially in Toronto and Montreal, being significantly more expensive than elsewhere. Tickets are particularly cheap to buy in Dallas, Phoenix and Buffalo.

Awards and trophies

In total, the NHL currently awards 24 trophies for teams, players, coaches and general managers during the season. The best known is the Stanley Cup , which is awarded to the winner of the playoffs and has existed since 1893. The oldest individual player trophy is the Hart Memorial Trophy , which since 1924 to the most valuable player of the regular season will be awarded. Over the years, the league introduced other trophies to honor the different types of players. A special ceremony will be the players, officials and officials given that annual Hockey Hall of Fame are taken. Annually a maximum of four players, two officials and / or one referee or linesman are admitted to this hall of fame.

Team trophies
Surname Reason for award photo Namesake Award Record winner
Stanley Cup
  • Stanley Cup Playoff Winner
StanleyCup.jpg Frederick Arthur Stanley, Baron Stanley of Preston since 1893
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl Hhof campbell.jpg Clarence S. Campbell since 1968
Prince of Wales Trophy Prince of Wales Trophy.jpg Edward VIII , Prince of Wales since 1924
Presidents' Trophy
  • Best points team in the regular season
President's-Trophy.jpg since 1986
Team trophies no longer awarded
Surname Reason for award photo Namesake Award Record winner
O'Brien Trophy
  • Losing Stanley Cup finalist
O Brien Trophy.jpg Ambrose O'Brien 1910- 1923
1928 - 1950
Player, general manager and coach trophies
Surname Reason for award photo Namesake Award Record winner
Art Ross Trophy Artross.png Kind Ross since 1948
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
  • Perseverance, dedication and fairness in and for ice hockey
Hhof masterton.jpg Bill Masterton since 1968
  • Each club can nominate a player
  • The trophy can only be won once in a career
Calder Memorial Trophy Calder.png Frank Calder since 1933
  • The trophy can only be won once in a career
  • Maximum age for nominations since 1990 is 26 years
Conn Smythe Trophy Connsmythe.gif Conn Smythe since 1965
  • Patrick Roy (3)
  • A player from the team lost in the final won the trophy five times
Frank J. Selke Trophy
  • Best defensive striker of the regular season
Selke.gif Frank J. Selke since 1978
Hart Memorial Trophy Hart.gif David Hart, father of Cecil Hart since 1924
Jack Adams Award
  • Best coach of the season
Hhof jack adams.jpg Jack Adams since 1974
James Norris Memorial Trophy
  • Best Regular Season Defender
Norris.gif James E. Norris since 1954
King Clancy Memorial Trophy
  • Leadership skills and social commitment on and off the ice
Hhof clancy.jpg King Clancy since 1988
  • Each club can nominate a player
  • The trophy can only be won once in a career
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
  • High sporting standard and exemplary behavior
Ladybyng.gif Lady Byng , wife of Julian HG Byng since 1925
Lester Patrick Trophy
  • Special merits in the field of ice hockey in the USA and in the NHL
Lester Patrick Trophy.jpg Lester Patrick since 1966
  • several winners possible per year
  • in collaboration with USA Hockey
Mark Messier Leadership Award
  • Best leader
Mark Messier since 2007
Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy
  • Regular season top scorer
Maurice richard.gif Maurice Richard since 1999
NHL Foundation Player Award
  • Special commitment to charity in society
NHL Foundation since 1998
NHL General Manager of the Year Award
  • General Manager of the Year
since 2010
Ted Lindsay Award
  • Best Regular Season Player Elected by the NHLPA
Hhof lester pearson.jpg Ted Lindsay since 1971
Vezina Trophy
  • Best goalkeeper of the regular season
Vezina2.gif Georges Vézina since 1927
William M. Jennings Trophy
  • Fewest goals conceded in the regular season
William M. Jennings Trophy (Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto) .jpg William M. Jennings since 1982
  • Patrick Roy (5)
  • Until 1982 this achievement was awarded the Vezina Trophy
Player and coach trophies no longer awarded
Surname Reason for award photo Namesake Award Record winner
Budweiser NHL Man of the Year Award
  • Charitable commitment and athletic behavior
Budweiser (as sponsor) 1988 - 1992
Charlie Conacher Humanitarian Award
  • social commitment
Charlie Conacher 1969 - 1984
  • First winner: Chief Armstrong
  • In 1971 and 1973 there were two winners each
Dodge Performance of the Year
  • Best performance of the regular season
Dodge (as sponsor) 1988 - 1989
  • awarded only twice in total
  • could be awarded to both individual players and teams
Dodge Ram Tough Award
  • Most overpowered, underpowered, winning and drawing goals in the regular season
Dodge Ram (as sponsor) 1988 - 1991
NHL Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Special contribution to the league during his career
2008 - 2009
NHL Plus / Minus Award 1983 - 2008
  • Wayne Gretzky (3) + (1; before 1983)
  • Plus / minus official statistics since 1968
  • Record winner before 1983: Bobby Orr (6)
NHL / Sheraton Road Performer Award
  • Most away points
Sheraton (as sponsor) 2004
  • Sole winner: Joe Sakic
  • was also awarded monthly
NHL Player of the Year
  • Best player of the year
(as sponsor; 1985-90)
Pro Set
(as sponsor; 1991-92)
1985 - 1992
Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award
  • Best catch quota in the regular season
Roger Crozier 2000 - 2007

President and Commissioner of the NHL

So far, five presidents and one commissioner have worked at the top of the league leadership. The British Frank Calder was the first President in the founding year to take over this position and remained in office for a total of 26 years until his death in 1943. Calder was instrumental in the formation and expansion of the league. After his death, the trophy for the best newcomer of the year was continued in his honor as the Calder Memorial Trophy . Mervyn "Red" Dutton took on the duties of league president and led the league through World War II before his assistant Clarence S. Campbell rose to president in 1946. In the course of the following years he introduced a regular hosting of the NHL All-Star Game and a denser game plan. Under his leadership, the league's expansion continued. Campbell introduced a so-called "Inter-League Draft", which preferred weak teams and ensured more balance within the league.

After 31 years in office, John A. Ziegler Jr. became the first American to take over the presidential position and held it for 15 years. Under his leadership, four World Hockey Association franchises were added to the NHL. In 1992 the one-year term of office of Gilbert Stein followed , but on February 1, 1993, a so-called commissioner was appointed by Gary Bettman . After Stein stepped down as president on June 30, 1993 after just one year, the commissioner took over the leadership of the league as the highest-ranking NHL official. Under Bettman's leadership, the NHL grew to its current number of 30 franchises.

Presidents (1917–1993)
Surname Term of office Most important actions
United KingdomUnited Kingdom Frank Calder 1917 - 1943
Canada 1921Canada Mervyn "Red" Dutton 1943 - 1946
CanadaCanada Clarence S. Campbell 1946 - 1977
  • Introduction of the All-Star Games as a permanent facility
  • Introduction of a retirement plan for former players
  • Expansion of the league from six to twelve teams in the late 1960s
  • Establishment of the nationwide leadership position over the competition through the World Hockey Association founded in 1972
  • Division of the league into two conferences
United StatesUnited States John A. Ziegler Jr. 1977 - 1992
United StatesUnited States Gilbert Stone 1992 - 1993
Commissioner (since 1993)
Surname Term of office Most important actions
United StatesUnited States Gary Bettman since 1993
  • Overcoming three lockouts in the 1994/95 , 2004/05 and 2012/13 seasons
  • Expansion of the league towards the end of the 1990s
  • Participation of NHL players in the Winter Olympics since 1998
  • Far-reaching rule changes to make the sport more attractive

Seasonal schedule


Regular season

A season in the NHL is divided into the so-called regular season and the postseason , the so-called play-offs. In the regular season, each team plays 82 games, although the division of these is different for the 2017/18 season in the two conferences, as the Western Conference with 15 teams has one fewer teams than the Eastern Conference.

In the Eastern Conference , each team plays 28 games within its division. Four games (two away and two home games each) are played against seven teams. In addition, there are three games against each opponent from the other division of the Eastern Conference, a total of 24. Finally, there is an away and home game against each team of the Western Conference, a total of 30.

In the Western Conference , each team therefore also plays a home and away game against each team in the Eastern Conference, a total of 32.

In addition, there are 29 games per team in their own division in the Pacific Division, with four games against six teams and five games against the remaining team. Since a team plays one more home game in five games, these pairings change annually. Against teams of the Central Division three games are played here as well, i.e. 21. If the home games are unevenly distributed, the annual pairings change accordingly.

In the Central Division of the Western Conference, each team plays against four opponents of their own division four times and against two opponents five times each, which results in a total of 26 games. Three games will be played against the eight teams in the Pacific Division, for a total of 24.

The above mode replaced the mode of the 2013/14 NHL season , in which only thirty franchises competed. And in the 2008/09 season , a team played six more times against each team from the same division, four times against each other team from the same conference , and once at home or away against twelve teams from the other conference and once at home and away against the three remaining teams of the other conference. This mode replaced the mode with eight games against the teams from the same division and a total of only ten games against teams from the other conference, which was played between the seasons 2005/06 to 2007/08 . This meant that more frequent derbies with rivals were avoided and minimized travel costs were discarded, as the fans only saw teams from the other conference every three years.

Another change, which should increase the attractiveness of the game and which came into effect from the 2005/06 season, was the introduction of the "shootout". If a game in the regular season ends in a draw, then, as in the previous seasons, there is a 5-minute extra time, overtime . The game is played 3 against 3 and according to the Sudden Death mode , so the first goal decides the game. If the game has not yet been decided after the overtime has expired, a shootout, the shootout , follows . Each team initially has three shooters. If it is still a draw after your attempts, the decision is made in the knockout system (similar to that of the penalty shootout in football). Each game has a winner and a loser. The winning team always receives two points. The losing team receives no point in the event of a defeat after 60 minutes, but is rewarded with one point in the event of a defeat after overtime or shootout.


When all teams have played their 82 games, the tables of the two conferences, i.e. the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference , are calculated separately. From the two divisions per conference, the three teams with the highest points are directly qualified for the play-offs. In addition, each conference awards two wild cards , which are given to the teams that have achieved the most points (apart from the six that have already qualified). Because this allocation takes place across divisions, it can happen that one division sends five and the other division only three teams into the play-offs. This is the case if the fifth placed in one division has more points than the fourth placed in the other division.

Thus, eight teams from each conference go into the play-offs, in which the best-of-seven mode is always played - whoever wins the fourth win first goes to the next round. The pairings are determined within the division and by the number of points achieved: The person with the highest point plays against the wild card team and the second against the third. If, as described above, two wild cards go to the same division, the worse point of these two wild card teams plays against the better first of the two divisions. The first round is followed by the division final, in which the best teams from the four divisions are determined. This is followed by the conference final, where the respective division winners now meet. The best teams from both conferences will then meet in the Stanley Cup final.

In all series, the team with the better points in the regular season has home rights. Home law means that they can play games 1, 2, 5 and 7 in their own stadium.

Important events

Before the game for a new NHL season begins, usually in October, the so-called free agent phase begins on July 1 , which allows the teams to negotiate with free players for the first time. These players without a contract are divided into several groups, with "unrestricted free agents" being allowed to negotiate without any restrictions. For so-called "restricted free agents" whose rights remain with their team, a time limit expires on 1 December of that year, up to which they may enter into an agreement, otherwise they get to the end of the season no player's license . Training camps for the NHL teams start around mid-September . The players who were selected in the NHL Entry Draft and those who last played on the farm team are often called up for these . In the following weeks until shortly before the start of the game in October, the squad is reduced several times and most of the youth players are sent back to the junior league and reserve players are handed over to the farm teams. A so-called “roster freeze” follows in mid-December, which prohibits the teams from making any transfers for around a week. Around a month later, the NHL All-Star Game is usually played, in which the best and most popular players in the league take part. A trade deadline follows towards the end of February , a so-called cut-off date, which marks the end of the transfer period. In June the NHL Entry Draft takes place annually, in which the teams can secure the rights to available junior players.


Henri Richard is the most successful player in NHL history with eleven Stanley Cup victories, all of which he won in the Montréal Canadiens jersey. His teammates at the time Jean Béliveau and Yvan Cournoyer were successful with ten Stanley Cup victories. Claude Provost with nine Stanley Cups and Red Kelly , Maurice Richard , Jacques Lemaire and Serge Savard with eight successes were also relatively successful . With eight Stanley Cups, Red Kelly is the most successful player in history who has never played for the Montréal Canadiens.

The most successful goalscorer and scorer is Wayne Gretzky with 894 goals and 2857 points in the regular season. He won nine times, the Hart Memorial Trophy as wertvollster Player of the regular season and ten times the Art Ross Trophy as the best scorer. Gretzky only needed 575 NHL games to hit the 500 goal mark . Gretzky also holds the best points average of a player over the entire career with an average of 1,921 points per game, ahead of Mario Lemieux with 1,883 points. Gordie Howe holds the record for the most completed NHL games in the regular season with 1767 games. Howe is the oldest player to ever play in the NHL. He retired in April 1980 in the Hartford Whalers jersey and was 52 when he last met. He is also the second player next to Gretzky to score over 800 goals in the regular season .

Steve Yzerman was team captain of the Detroit Red Wings from 1986 to 2006 , longer than any other player in history.

Martin Brodeur was the only goalkeeper to achieve more than 600 wins, replacing Patrick Roy , who had finished 551 NHL regular season games as the winner during his career, as the leader. Brodeur also holds the record for the most goalkeeper shutouts after beating Terry Sawchuk's record in December 2009 with his 104th clean sheet .

See also


  • William Brown: The Montreal Maroons - The Forgotten Stanley Cup Champions Vehicule Press, 1999, ISBN 1-55065-128-5 . (English)
  • Jim Hendy : Official 1947 National Hockey Guide . AS Barnes & Company, 1946.
  • Steve Dryden / The Hockey News: Century of Hockey . McCelland & Steward Ltd., 2001, ISBN 0-7710-4180-2 .
  • Steve Dryden / The Hockey News: The Top 100 NHL Players of All Time . McCelland & Steward Ltd., 1999, ISBN 0-7710-4176-4 .
  • National Hockey League: Official Guide and Record Book 2008 . Triumph Books, October 2007, ISBN 978-1-60078-037-0 .
  • Arthur Pincus: The Official Illustrated NHL History . Readers Digest, 2006, ISBN 0-88850-800-X .
  • Scott Adam Surgent: The Complete Historical and Statistical Reference of the World Hockey Association 1972–1979 . Xaler Press, 1995, ISBN 0-9644774-0-8 .

Web links

Commons : National Hockey League  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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  78., NHL & WHA Career Leaders and Records for Points Per Game
  79., This Day In Sports: Gordie Howe Puts His NHL Skates On Ice
  80., Steve Yzerman in the Hockey Hall of Fame
  81., Brodeur earns record 104th career shutout as Devils blank Penguins 4-0 ( Memento of the original from March 12, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /