National Hockey League (NHL) | History, Teams, & Facts (2024)

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Last Updated: Article History

2021 Stanley Cup finals

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Date:
1917 - present
Areas Of Involvement:
ice hockey
professionalism
Stanley Cup
Related People:
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Alex Ovechkin
Wayne Gretzky
Jaromir Jagr
Martin Brodeur

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National Hockey League (NHL), organization of professional ice hockey teams in North America, formed in 1917 by four Canadian teams, to which the first U.S. team, the Boston Bruins, was added in 1924. The National Hockey League (NHL) became the strongest league in North America and in 1926 took permanent possession of the Stanley Cup, a trophy representing world supremacy in ice hockey. Headquarters are in New York City.

League membership rose to 10, then dropped, and held steady at six from 1942 to 1967. (Those teams—the Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs—are referred to as the “Original Six,” and that era has been celebrated by the hockey press and fans for generations.) After various periods of expansion and reorganization, the NHL now consists of 32 teams in two conferences and four divisions.

Britannica QuizGreat Moments in Sports QuizEastern Conference
  • Atlantic Division: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Metropolitan Division: Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals

Western Conference
  • Central Division: Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets

  • Pacific Division: Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Kraken, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights

At the end of the league’s regular season, eight teams from each conference—the top three teams in each division and two wild-card teams with the best remaining records, regardless of divisional affiliation—qualify for the playoffs. The champions of each conference then compete in a best-of-seven series for possession of the Stanley Cup.

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The table provides a list of Stanley Cup champions.

The Stanley Cup
season winner runner-up games
*Though Victoria defeated Quebec in challenge games, Victoria's win was not officially recognized.
**Series called because of flu epidemic.
1892–93 Montreal Amateur Athletic Association
1893–94 Montreal Amateur Athletic Association
1894–95 Montreal Victorias
1895–96 Winnipeg Victorias (Feb.)
Montreal Victorias (Dec.)
1896–97 Montreal Victorias
1897–98 Montreal Victorias
1898–99 Montreal Shamrocks
1899–1900 Montreal Shamrocks
1900–01 Winnipeg Victorias
1901–02 Montreal Amateur Athletic Association
1902–03 Ottawa Silver Seven
1903–04 Ottawa Silver Seven
1904–05 Ottawa Silver Seven
1905–06 Montreal Wanderers
1906–07 Kenora Thistles (Jan.)
Montreal Wanderers (March)
1907–08 Montreal Wanderers
1908–09 Ottawa Senators
1909–10 Montreal Wanderers
1910–11 Ottawa Senators
1911–12 Quebec Bulldogs
1912–13* Quebec Bulldogs
1913–14 Toronto Blueshirts
1914–15 Vancouver Millionaires
1915–16 Montreal Canadiens
1916–17 Seattle Metropolitans
1917–18 Toronto Arenas Vancouver Millionaires 3–2
1918–19 no decision**
1919–20 Ottawa Senators Seattle Metropolitans 3–2
1920–21 Ottawa Senators Vancouver Millionaires 3–2
1921–22 Toronto St. Pats Vancouver Millionaires 3–2
1922–23 Ottawa Senators Edmonton 2–0
1923–24 Montreal Canadiens Calgary 2–0
1924–25 Victoria Cougars Montreal Canadiens 3–1
1925–26 Montreal Maroons Victoria Cougars 3–1
1926–27 Ottawa Senators Boston Bruins 2–0
1927–28 New York Rangers Montreal Maroons 3–2
1928–29 Boston Bruins New York Rangers 2–0
1929–30 Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins 2–0
1930–31 Montreal Canadiens Chicago Black Hawks 3–2
1931–32 Toronto Maple Leafs New York Rangers 3–0
1932–33 New York Rangers Toronto Maple Leafs 3–1
1933–34 Chicago Black Hawks Detroit Red Wings 3–1
1934–35 Montreal Maroons Toronto Maple Leafs 3–0
1935–36 Detroit Red Wings Toronto Maple Leafs 3–1
1936–37 Detroit Red Wings New York Rangers 3–2
1937–38 Chicago Black Hawks Toronto Maple Leafs 3–1
1938–39 Boston Bruins Toronto Maple Leafs 4–1
1939–40 New York Rangers Toronto Maple Leafs 4–2
1940–41 Boston Bruins Detroit Red Wings 4–0
1941–42 Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings 4–3
1942–43 Detroit Red Wings Boston Bruins 4–0
1943–44 Montreal Canadiens Chicago Black Hawks 4–0
1944–45 Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings 4–3
1945–46 Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins 4–1
1946–47 Toronto Maple Leafs Montreal Canadiens 4–2
1947–48 Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings 4–0
1948–49 Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings 4–0
1949–50 Detroit Red Wings New York Rangers 4–3
1950–51 Toronto Maple Leafs Montreal Canadiens 4–1
1951–52 Detroit Red Wings Montreal Canadiens 4–0
1952–53 Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins 4–1
1953–54 Detroit Red Wings Montreal Canadiens 4–3
1954–55 Detroit Red Wings Montreal Canadiens 4–3
1955–56 Montreal Canadiens Detroit Red Wings 4–1
1956–57 Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins 4–1
1957–58 Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins 4–2
1958–59 Montreal Canadiens Toronto Maple Leafs 4–1
1959–60 Montreal Canadiens Toronto Maple Leafs 4–0
1960–61 Chicago Black Hawks Detroit Red Wings 4–2
1961–62 Toronto Maple Leafs Chicago Black Hawks 4–2
1962–63 Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings 4–1
1963–64 Toronto Maple Leafs Detroit Red Wings 4–3
1964–65 Montreal Canadiens Chicago Black Hawks 4–3
1965–66 Montreal Canadiens Detroit Red Wings 4–2
1966–67 Toronto Maple Leafs Montreal Canadiens 4–2
1967–68 Montreal Canadiens St. Louis Blues 4–0
1968–69 Montreal Canadiens St. Louis Blues 4–0
1969–70 Boston Bruins St. Louis Blues 4–0
1970–71 Montreal Canadiens Chicago Black Hawks 4–3
1971–72 Boston Bruins New York Rangers 4–2
1972–73 Montreal Canadiens Chicago Black Hawks 4–2
1973–74 Philadelphia Flyers Boston Bruins 4–2
1974–75 Philadelphia Flyers Buffalo Sabres 4–2
1975–76 Montreal Canadiens Philadelphia Flyers 4–0
1976–77 Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins 4–0
1977–78 Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins 4–2
1978–79 Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers 4–1
1979–80 New York Islanders Philadelphia Flyers 4–2
1980–81 New York Islanders Minnesota North Stars 4–1
1981–82 New York Islanders Vancouver Canucks 4–0
1982–83 New York Islanders Edmonton Oilers 4–0
1983–84 Edmonton Oilers New York Islanders 4–1
1984–85 Edmonton Oilers Philadelphia Flyers 4–1
1985–86 Montreal Canadiens Calgary Flames 4–1
1986–87 Edmonton Oilers Philadelphia Flyers 4–3
1987–88 Edmonton Oilers Boston Bruins 4–0
1988–89 Calgary Flames Montreal Canadiens 4–2
1989–90 Edmonton Oilers Boston Bruins 4–1
1990–91 Pittsburgh Penguins Minnesota North Stars 4–2
1991–92 Pittsburgh Penguins Chicago Blackhawks 4–0
1992–93 Montreal Canadiens Los Angeles Kings 4–1
1993–94 New York Rangers Vancouver Canucks 4–3
1994–95 New Jersey Devils Detroit Red Wings 4–0
1995–96 Colorado Avalanche Florida Panthers 4–0
1996–97 Detroit Red Wings Philadelphia Flyers 4–0
1997–98 Detroit Red Wings Washington Capitals 4–0
1998–99 Dallas Stars Buffalo Sabres 4–2
1999–2000 New Jersey Devils Dallas Stars 4–2
2000–01 Colorado Avalanche New Jersey Devils 4–3
2001–02 Detroit Red Wings Carolina Hurricanes 4–1
2002–03 New Jersey Devils Anaheim Mighty Ducks 4–3
2003–04 Tampa Bay Lightning Calgary Flames 4–3
2004–05 canceled due to labour dispute
2005–06 Carolina Hurricanes Edmonton Oilers 4–3
2006–07 Anaheim Ducks Ottawa Senators 4–1
2007–08 Detroit Red Wings Pittsburgh Penguins 4–2
2008–09 Pittsburgh Penguins Detroit Red Wings 4–3
2009–10 Chicago Blackhawks Philadelphia Flyers 4–2
2010–11 Boston Bruins Vancouver Canucks 4–3
2011–12 Los Angeles Kings New Jersey Devils 4–2
2012–13 Chicago Blackhawks Boston Bruins 4–2
2013–14 Los Angeles Kings New York Rangers 4–1
2014–15 Chicago Blackhawks Tampa Bay Lightning 4–2
2015–16 Pittsburgh Penguins San Jose Sharks 4–2
2016–17 Pittsburgh Penguins Nashville Predators 4–2
2017–18 Washington Capitals Vegas Golden Knights 4–1
2018–19 St. Louis Blues Boston Bruins 4–3
2019–20 Tampa Bay Lightning Dallas Stars 4–2
2020–21 Tampa Bay Lightning Montreal Canadiens 4–1
2021–22 Colorado Avalanche Tampa Bay Lightning 4–2
2022–23 Vegas Golden Knights Florida Panthers 4–1

The Editors of Encyclopaedia BritannicaThis article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn.

National Hockey League (NHL) | History, Teams, & Facts (2024)
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