The National Hockey league is one of the world’s best known and longest lasting professional sports leagues.
After an internal squabble with the Toronto owner of the “Blueshirts” in the small existing National Hockey Association, the other team owners suspended the league and met in Montreal’s luxurious Windsor hotel. Owners of the Montreal Canadiens, the short lived Montreal Wanderers, Quebec Bulldogs and Ottawa Senators decided to form a new league on November 25, 1917.
Toronto would be represented by a team called the “Arenas” until 1919. They would be replaced by the St Patricks until 1927, which then evolved into the Maple Leafs of today.
So it was that the new “National Hockey League” came into being on this day, November 26, 1917. The first two games of the fledgling league would be played a couple of weeks later.
As for the NHL, mostly eastern Canada based, they would be playing simultaneously for the next decade simultaneously with the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and briefly with the short-lived 1920’s Western Canada Hockey League. The best team from the Pacific would play against the best from the NHL for the coveted Stanley Cup trophy.
By the mid twenties the NHL had added the Boston Bruins and with other teams added was now a league of ten.
Devout hockey fans will have heard of the “original six”; Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, and New York.
These were the among the surviving teams to emerge from the Great Depression and lingering aftermath which saw the demise of the Montreal Maroons (folded in 1934) , the Pittsburgh Pirates (one season in Philadelphia as the Quakers), the Ottawa Senators, (moved to St Louis in 1934), and the New York Americans (1942)
As war once again began drawing off top eligible players, the surviving teams by 1942 were the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, and New York Rangers.
For the next 25 years, these six were the NHL until its first expansion in 1967.
The highly successful NHL today consists of 31 teams and is watched by millions of fans in arenas throughout North America and on televised broadcasts.