When Did The National Hockey League Start? [Facts!]

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The National Hockey League (NHL) was founded in 1917 and originally consisted of just seven teams. These teams would eventually split into two conferences, the American and the Canadian Hockey Leagues. In 1924, the two leagues merged to form the NHL. Since then, the league has continued to grow significantly, and today boasts 12 teams in the Eastern Conference and 12 teams in the Western Conference. The NHL is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. Not only does America’s favorite sport have a great amount of popularity in North America, but it also draws large audiences overseas. The NHL currently boasts 22 teams in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, and another six in Europe.

The First NHL Game Was On December 19, 1917

The very first game of the NHL was played on December 19, 1917. The Rival Hockey Club met at the Madison Square Garden in New York City and took the ice against the New York Americans, winners of the prior year’s Stanley Cup. The score was 1-0 for the visitors at the end of the first period, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The NHL didn’t officially begin until the following season, with the first season of 1918-19 being played between the Americans, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Ottawa Senators. Prior to the start of the season, NHL commissioner Frank J. Selke organized a competition called the “NHL All-Stars Tournament.” The goal of the tournament was to introduce the sport of hockey to as many people as possible. It was played between February 3-9, 1918 and featured star players from the six teams in the league. The final game of the tournament was held at the Montreal Forum, and it concluded with a 7-0 victory by the Ottawa Senators over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The NHL was officially formed on April 1, 1918.

NHL History

The following is a brief history of the NHL. For a more detailed account, check out this Wikipedia article on the subject:

The Early Years (1917-1924)

The National Hockey League was formed in 1917 and originally consisted of just seven teams. These teams would eventually split into two conferences, the American and the Canadian Hockey Leagues. In 1924, the two leagues merged to form the NHL. Since then, the league has continued to grow significantly, and today boasts 12 teams in the Eastern Conference and 12 teams in the Western Conference. The NHL is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, and currently has 22 teams in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, and another six in Europe.

The Growth Of The NHL

The following graph depicts the NHL’s official record-breaking attendance for each season from 1926 to 2014. The league’s popularity can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the economic boom that followed World War II, the expanding geographical territory that the NHL covered, and the addition of two new teams per season. In addition, the game itself has become more attractive to audiences due to the increasing skill level and innovation of today’s NHL players.

The Original Six Teams (1917-1924)

The NHL consists of 12 teams, six of which are based in the United States and six in Canada. These teams were originally known as the NHL’s “Original Six” and were: the New York Rangers (American League), the Boston Bruins (American League), the Chicago Black Hawks (American League), the Montreal Canadiens (National), the Toronto Rangers (National), and the Vancouver Canucks (National). As the league grew in subsequent years, it added more teams with the addition of the New York Dynamo (American League) in 1921, the Cleveland Tigers (American League) in 1923, and the Detroit Red Wings (American League) and the Chicago Black Hawks (American League) in 1924. The Original Six teams still play an extremely important part in the NHL, as they represent some of the most historic teams in league history. The New York Rangers are the most successful team in the NHL, having won the most championships and appearing in the most finals of the playoffs. The Vancouver Canucks have the distinction of being the first ever expansion team to win the Stanley Cup. The other five teams mentioned above have all won at least one Stanley Cup. Fans of the Original Six teams continue to be passionate about their teams and the league, regardless of whether or not they actually live in proximity to one of the six teams. The Chicago Black Hawks have the unique distinction of being the only NHL team that has never had a winning season.

Other Important Dates

Here’s a list of some other important dates in the history of the NHL. For a more detailed account, check out this Wikipedia article on the subject:

Junior Hockey (1924-1935)

Prior to 1924, most players started their careers in minor professional leagues. However, in that year, the NHL established a Junior Hockey League. The purpose of the league was to give young hockey players an opportunity to play professional hockey. In order to do this, the league began a bidding war to acquire the services of superstar player Sid Abel. In the end, the league that offered more money won the services of the young hockey superstar. Abel played one season in the NHL and two in the American Hockey League before moving on to a successful career in baseball. The NHL also adopted a number of measures to make the game more attractive to young players. These included the introduction of the six-point check rule and the two-line pass. The goal of the rule was to increase the entertainment value of the game by decreasing the number of fights that broke out. The introduction of the pass allowed players to distribute the ball more effectively to other team members. As a result of these changes, junior hockey became incredibly popular and resulted in the formation of the International Hockey League in 1926. The following year, the NHL added a seventh team in the Montreal-Boston area. Prior to 1930, the league had added a team in Washington, D.C. in 1926 and another in New York City in 1927. The Montreal Canadiens played the New York Rangers in the first-ever Madison Square Garden Arena game on December 19, 1927. This marked the beginning of the “Garden Revolution,” which changed the face of American sports. From there, the NHL would expand continuously, reaching a peak of 14 teams in the 1930s.

The rise of hockey in North America can be attributed to a number of factors. One of the most prominent reasons is the fact that the game is both legitimate and popular in Canada. Another reason is that the United States Army built ice rinks in many of their military installations during the World War II years, which led to the growth of organized ice hockey in the country. Still, other factors contribute to the popularity of hockey in North America, including better equipment, more talented players, and a greater interest in sports. For more information on this, check out this Wikipedia article on the subject:

The Golden Years (1935-1954)

The following graph depicts the NHL’s attendance for each season from 1935 to 1954. During this time period, the NHL saw substantial growth in terms of both geography and popularity, peaking at 16 teams in 1942 and again in 1948 at the close of World War II. Attendance decreased slightly in the post-war years due in part to the increasing popularity of soccer in the United States. Still, the league survived, and by 1954, the number of teams had once more decreased, this time to 12. The game’s popularity waned in the years that followed, and by 1962, the NHL had been reduced to ten teams due in part to the professionalization of the sport. However, in 1979, the NHL added two more teams in the Washington, D.C. and New York City areas, and interest in the sport began to increase once more. Today, the NHL boasts 12 teams in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, and another six in Europe.

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