Hockey Central
Inside the National Hockey League
Off-ice Action: Understanding the Business Side of Hockey

At a meeting of representatives of hockey clubs held at the Windsor Hotel, Montreal, the following present, G.W. Kendall, S.E. Lichtenhein. T.P. Gorman, M.J. Quinn and Frank Calder, it was explained by the last named that in view of the suspension of operations by the National Hockey Association of Canada Limited, he had called the meeting at the suggestion of the Quebec Hockey Club to ascertain if some steps could not be taken to perpetuate the game of Hockey.

Frank Clader was elected to the Chair and a discussion ensued after which it was moved by T.P. Gorman, seconded by G.W. Kendall: 'That the Canadiens, Wanderers, Ottawa and Quebec Hockey Clubs unite to comprise the National Hockey League'. The motion was carried.

It was then moved by M.J. Quinn seconded by G.W. Kendall that: 'This League agrees to operate under the rules and conditions governing the game of hockey prescribed by the National Hockey Association of Canada Limited'. The motion was carried.

At this stage, Mr. W.E. Northey, representing the Toronto Arena Company asked to be admitted to the meeting and was admitted. Mr. Northey explained that he was empowered by the interests he represented to say that in the event of a league being formed to contain four clubs, the Toronto Arenas desired to enter a team in the competition.

Upon this assurance M.J. Quinn on behalf of the Quebec Hockey Club declared the latter willing to withdraw provided a suitable arrangement could be made regarding players then the property of the Quebec Hockey Club.

After discussion it was unanimously agreed that the Quebec players be taken over by the league at a cost of $700 of which amount 50% should be paid to the Quebec Hockey Club by the club winning the championship, 30% by the second club and 20% by the third club in the race.

The meeting then proceeded to the election of officers. The following directors were elected S.E. Lichtenhein (Wanderers), Martin Rosenthal (Ottawa), G.W. Kendall (Canadiens) and a director to be named by the Toronto club.

M.J. Quinn was elected Honorary President with power to vote on matters pertaining to the general welfare of the league.

Frank Calder was elected President and Secretary-Treasurer at a salary of $800 on the understanding that there could be no appeal from his decisions.

After a schedule of Wednesday and Saturday games was adopted the meeting was adjourned.

From the Minutes of the
First NHL Board of Governors Meeting
November, 1917

On the ice, the National Hockey League officially had its beginnings on December 19, 1917 as the Montreal Canadiens defeated Ottawa 7-4 and the Montreal Wanderers downed Toronto 10-9. Those historic games, however, were preceded by more than a month of meetings and backroom dealings by a group of gentlemen that were entrusted with the formation of the National Hockey League (NHL) following the demise of the National Hockey Association (NHA).


These meetings began in early November as the National Hockey Association's directors—S.E. Lichtenhein of the Wanderers, G.W. Kendall of the Canadiens, T.P. Gorman of Ottawa and M.J. Quinn of Quebec along with NHA secretary-treasurer Frank Calder—attempted to keep the league afloat. The numerous franchise problems in the preceding season, however, eventually led the NHA executives to start anew.


At the historic Board of Governors meeting from November 24-26 at Montreal's Windsor Hotel, the National Hockey League was formed. The crude 25-page constitution of the National Hockey Association, the predecessor of the NHL, was adopted as the governing document of the new league. As president-elect Calder told a sparse gathering of media in the late afternoon hours of Monday, November 26, the purpose of the new league was "the fostering and furtherance of the game of hockey to be governed by bylaws and rules."


While there were more than 250 owners meetings over the next half century which dealt with all aspects of developing the game, the second most important piece of off-ice business enacted by the Board of Governors took place on June 7, 1967 when the National Hockey League officially recognized the NHL Players' Association as the exclusive bargaining agent "for all of the present and future hockey players employed by the clubs with respect to certain terms and conditions of employment."


Eight years later, on May 4, 1976, the first collective Bargaining Agreement was printed and distributed.


More than 80 years after its founding, the National Hockey League is still governed by a Board of Governors comprised of owners and club management personnel who establish the policies of the league and who, along with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, uphold the 306-page Lex Scripta containing the league's constitution, bylaws and resolutions. Those documents, along with the 150-page Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the NHL Players' Association comprise the basis for managing the game off the ice.


Following is an "A-Z" look at the inner workings of today's National Hockey League along with some historical perspective on numerous aspects of the game and business.