Hockey Central
NHL History
1917 – National Hockey League organized November 22 in Montreal following suspension of operations by the National Hockey Association of Canada Limited (NHA). Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators and Quebec Bulldogs attended founding meeting. Delegates decided to use NHA rules. Toronto Arenas were later admitted as fifth team; Quebec decided not to operate during the first season. Quebec players allocated to remaining four teams. Frank Clader elected president and secretary-treasurer. First NHL games played December 19, with Toronto only arena with artificial ice. Clubs played 22-game spilt schedule.
1918 – Emergency meeting held January 3 due to destruction by fire of Montreal Arena which was home ice for both Canadiens and Wanderers. Wanderers withdrew, reducing the NHL to three teams; Canadiens played remaining home games at 3,250-seat Jubilee rink. Quebec franchise sold to P.J. Quinn of Toronto on October 18 on condition that the team operate in Quebec City for 1918-19 season. Quinn did not attend the November League meeting and Quebec did not play in 1918-19.
1919-20 – NHL reactivated Quebec Bulldogs franchise. Former Quebec players returned to the club. New Mount Royal Arena became home of Canadiens. Toronto Areans changed name to St. Patricks. Clubs played 24-game spilt schedule.
1920-21 – H.P. Thompson of Hamilton, Ontario made application for the purchase of an NHL franchise. Quebec franchise shifted to Hamilton with other NHL teams providing players to strengthen the club.
1921-22 – Split schedule abandoned. First and second place teams at the end of full schedule to play for championship.
1922-23 – Clubs agreed that players could not be sold or traded to clubs in any other league without first being offered to all other clubs in the NHL. In March, Foster Hewitt broadcasts radio's first hockey game.
1923-24 – Ottawa's new 10,000-seat arena opened. First U.S. franchise granted to Boston for following Season. Dr. Cecil Hart Trophy donated to NHL to be awarded to the player judged most useful to his team.
1924-25 – Canadian Arena Company of Montreal granted a franchise to operate Montreal Maroons. NHL now six team league with two clubs in Montreal. Inaugural game in new Montreal Forum played November 29, 1924 as Canadiens defeated Toronto 7-1. Forum was home rink for the Maroons, but no ice was available in the Canadiens arena November 29, resulting in shift to Forum. Hamilton finished first in the standings, receiving a bye into the finals. But Hamilton players, demanding $200 each for additional games in the playoffs, went on strike. The NHL suspended all players, fining them $200 each. Stanley Cup finalist to be the winner of the NHL semi-final between Toronto and Canadiens. Prince of Wales and Lady Byng trophies donated to NHL. Clubs played 30-game schedule.
1925-26 – Hamilton club dropped from NHL. Players signed by New York Americans franchise. Franchise granted to Pittsburgh. Clubs played 36-game schedule.
1926-27 – New York Rangers granted franchise May 15, 1962. Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Cougars granted franchises September 25, 1926. NHL now ten-team league with an American and a Canadian Division. Stanley Cup came under the control of NHL, in previous seasons, winners of the now-defunct Western or Pacific Coast leagues would play NHL champion in Cup Finals. Toronto franchise sold to a new company controlled by Hugh Aird and Conn Smythe. Name changed from St. Patricks to Maple Leafs. Clubs played 44-game schedule. The Montreal Canadiens donated the Vezina Trophy to be awarded to the team allowing the fewest goals-against in regular season play. The winning team would, in turn, present the trophy to the goaltender playing in the greatest number of games during the season.
1930-31 – Detroit franchise changed name from Cougars to Falcons. Pittsburgh transferred to Philadelphia for one season. Pirates changed name to Philadelphia Quakers. Trading deadline for teams set at February 15 of each year. NHL approved operation of farm teams by Rangers, Americans, Falcons and Bruins. Four-sided electric arena clock first demonstrated.
1931-32 – Philadelphia dropped out. Ottawa withdrew for one season. New Maple Leafs Gardens completed. Clubs played 48-game schedule.
1932-33 – Detroit franchise changed name from Falcons to Red Wings. Franchise application received from St. Louis but refused because of additional travel costs. Ottawa team resumed play.
1933-34 – First All-Star Game played as a benefit for injured player Ace Bailey. Leafs defeated All-Stars 7-3 in Toronto.
1934-35 – Ottawa franchise transferred to St. Louis. Team called St. Louis Eagles and consisted largely of Ottawa's players.
1935-36 – Ottawa-St. Louis franchise terminated. Montreal Canadiens finished season with very poor record. To strengthen the club, NHL gave Canadiens first call on the services of all French-Canadian players for three seasons.
1937-38 – Second benefit all-star game staged November 2 in Montreal in aid of the family of the late Canadiens star Howie Morenz. Montreal Maroons withdrew from the NHL on June 22, 1938, leaving seven clubs in the league.
1938-39 – Expenses for each club regulated at $5 per man per day for meals and $2.50 per man per day for accommodation.
1939-40 – Benefit All-Star Game played October 29, 1939 in Montreal for the children of the late Albert (Babe) Siebert.
1940-41 – Ross-Tyer puck adopted as the official puck of the NHL. Early in the season it was apparent that this puck was too soft. The Spalding puck was adopted in its place. After the playoffs, Arthur Ross, NHL governor from Boston, donated a perpetual trophy to be awarded annually to the player voted outstanding in the league.
1941-42 – New York Americans changed name to Brooklyn Americans.
1942-43 – Brooklyn Americans withdrew from NHL, leaving six teams: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York and Toronto. Playoff format saw first-place team play third-place team and second play fourth. Clubs played 50-game schedule. Frank Calder, president of the NHL since its inception died in Montreal. Meryn "Red" Dutton, former manager of the New York Americans, became president. The NHL commissioned the Calder Memorial Trophy to be awarded to the League's outstanding rookie each year.
1945-46 – Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco applied for NHL franchise. The Philadelphia Arena Company of the American Hockey League applied for an injunction to prevent the possible operation of an NHL franchise in that city.
1946-47 – Mervyn Dutton retired as president of the NHL prior to the start of the season. He was succeeded by Clarence S. Campbell. Individual trophy winners and all-star team members to receive $1,000 awards. Playoff guarantees for players introduced. Clubs played 60-game schedule.
1947-48 – The first annual All-Star Game for the benefit of the players' pension fund was played when the All-Stars defeated the Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in Toronto on October 13, 1947. Ross Trophy, awarded to the NHL's outstanding player since 1941, to be awarded annually to the League's scoring leader. Philadelphia and Los Angeles franchise applications refused. National Hockey League Pension Society formed.
1949-50 – Clubs played 70-game schedule. First intra-league draft held April 30, 1950. Clubs allowed to protect 30 players. Remaining players available for $25,000 each.
1951-52 – Referees included in the League's pension plan.
1952-53 – In May of 1952, City of Cleveland applied for NHL franchise. Application denied. In March of 1953, the Cleveland Barons of the AHL challenged the NHL champions for the Stanley Cup. The NHL governors did not accept this challenge.
1953-54 – The James Norris Memorial Trophy presented to the NHL for annual presentation to the League's best defenseman. Intra-league draft rules amended to allow teams to protect 18 skaters and two goaltenders, claiming price reduced to $15,000.
1954-55 – Each arena to operate an "out-of-town" scoreboard. Referees and linesmen to wear shirts of black and norm vertical strips.
1956-57 – Standardized signals for referees and linesmen introduced.
1960-61 – Canadian National Exhibition, City of Toronto and NHL reach agreement for the construction of a Hockey Hall of Fame on the CNE grounds. Hall opens on August 26, 1961.
1963-64 – Player development league established with clubs operated by NHL franchises located in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Indianapolis, Omaha and, beginning in 1964-65, Tulsa. First universal amateur draft took place. All players of qualifying age (17) unaffected by sponsorship of junior teams available to be drafted.
1964-65 – Conn Smythe Trophy presented to the NHL to be awarded annually to the outstanding player in their Stanley Cup playoffs. Minimum age of players subject to amateur draft changed to 18.
1965-66 – NHL announced expansion plans for a second six-team division to begin play in 1967-68.
1966-67 – Fourteen applications for NHL franchises received. Lester Patrick Trophy presented to the NHL to be awarded annually for outstanding service to hockey in the United States. NHL sponsorship of junior teams ceased, making all players of qualifying age not already on NHL-sponsored lists eligible for the amateur draft.
1967-68 – Six new teams added: California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues. New teams to play in West Division. Remaining six teams to play in East Division. Minimum age of players subject to amateur draft changed to 20. Clubs played 74-game schedule. Clarence S. Campbell Trophy awarded to team finishing the regular season in first place in West Division. California Seals changed name to Oakland Seals on December 8, 1967.
1968-69 – Clubs played 76-game schedule. Amateur draft expanded to cover any amateur player of qualifying age thoughout the world.
1970-71 – Two new teams added: Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks. These teams joined East Division: Chicago switched to West Division. Clubs played 78-game schedule.
1971-72 – Playoff format amended. In each division, first to play fourth; second to play third.
1972-73 – Soviet Nationals and Canadian NHL stars play eight-game pre-season series. Canadians win 4-3-1. Two new teams added. Atlanta Flames join West Division; New York Islanders join East Division.
1974-75 – Two new teams added: Kansas City Scouts and Washington Capitals. Teams realigned into two nine-team conferences, the Prince of Wales made up of the Norris and Adams Divisions, and the Clarence Campbell made up of the Smythe and Patrick Divisions. Clubs played 80-game schedule.
1976-77 – California franchise transferred to Cleveland. Team named Cleveland Barons. Kansas City franchise transferred to Denver. Team named Colorado Rockies.
1977-78 – Clarence S. Campbell retires as NHL president. Succeeded by John A. Ziegler, Jr.
1978-79 – Cleveland and Minnesota franchises merge, leaving NHL with 17 teams. Merged team placed in Adams Division, playing home games in Minnesota. Minimum age of players subject to amateur draft changed to 19.
1979-80 – Four new teams added: Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets. Minimum age of players subject to entry draft changed to 18.
1980-81 – Atlanta franchise shifted to Calgary, retaining "Flames" name.
1981-82 – Teams realigned within existing divisions. New groupings based on geographical areas. Unbalanced schedule adopted.
1982-83 – Colorado Rockies franchise shifted to East Rutherford, New Jersey. Team named New Jersey Devils. Franchise moved to Patrick Division from Smythe; Winnipeg moved to Smythe Division from Norris.
1991-92 – San Jose Sharks added, making the NHL a 22-team league. NHL celebrates 75th Anniversary Season. The 1991-92 regular season suspended due to a strike by members of the NHL Players' Association on April 1, 1992. Play resumed April 12, 1992.
1992-93 – Gil Stein named NHL president (October 1992). Gary Bettman named first NHL Commissioner (February, 1993). Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning added, making the NHL a 24-team league. NHL celebrates Stanley Cup Centennial. Clubs played 84-game schedule.
1993-94 – Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Florida Panthers added, making the NHL a 26-team league. Minnesota franchise shifted to Dallas, team named Dallas Stars. Prince of Wales and Clarence Campbell Conferences renamed Eastern and Western. Adams, Patrick, Norris and Smythe Divisions renamed Northeast, Atlantic, Central and Pacific. Winnipeg moved to Central Division from Pacific; Tampa Bay moved to Atlantic Division from Central; Pittsburgh moved to Northeast Division from Atlantic.
1994-95 – A labour disruption forced the cancellation of 468 games from October 1, 1994 to January 19, 1995. Clubs played a 48-game schedule that began January 20, 1995 and ended May 3, 1995. No inter-conference games were played.
1995-95 – Quebec franchise transferred to Denver. Team named Colorado Avalanche and placed in Pacific Division of Western Conference. Clubs to play 82-game schedule.
1996-97 – Winnipeg franchise transferred to Phoenix. Team named Phoenix Coyotes and placed in Central Division of Western Conference.
1997-98 – Hartford franchise transferred to Releigh. Team named Carolina Hurricanes and remains in Northest Division of Eastern Conference.
1998-99 – The addition of the Nashville Predators made the NHL a 27-team league and brought about the creation of two new divisions and a league-wide realignment in preparation for further expansion to 30 teams by 2000-2001. Nashville was added to the Central Division of the Western Conference, while Toronto moved into the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh was shifted from the Northeast to the Atlantic, while Carolina left the Northeast for the newly created Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. Florida,Tamp Bay and Washington also joined the Southeast. In the Western Conference, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Vancouver make up the new Northwest Division. Dallas and Phoenix moved from the Central to the Pacific Division.
The NHL retired uniform number 99 in honor of all-time scoring leader Wayne Gretzky who retired at the end of the season.
1999-00 – Atlanta Thrashers added, making the NHL a 28-team league.
2000-01 – Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild added, making the NHL a 30-team league.
2003-04 – First outdoor NHL game and largest crowd in League history as 57,167 attend Heritage Classic at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. Montreal defeated Edmonton 4-3, November 22, 2003.
2004-05 – A lockout resulted in the cancellation of the season.
2007-08 – NHL-record crowd of 71,217 fills Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year's Day for the 2008 Winter Classic, the first outdoor game in the United States. Sidney Crosby's shootout goal gives the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
2011-12 – Atlanta franchise transferred to Winnipeg. Team named the Winnipeg Jets.
2012-13 – A lockout resulted in the cancellation of 510 games from October 11, 2012 to January 18, 2013. Clubs played a 48-game schedule that began January 19, 2013 and ended April 27, 2013. No inter-conference games were played.
2013-14 – The NHL's clubs are re-aligned into two conferences each consisting of two divisions. The new alignment places several clubs in more geographically appropriate groupings. The Eastern Conference is made up of the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions, each with eight teams. The Western Conference is made up of the Central and Pacific divisions, each with seven teams. All 30 teams play in all 30 arenas at least once a season.
2014-15 – Phoenix franchise renamed Arizona.
2015-16 – Les Vegas franchise added, to begin play in 2017-18. The team will be placed in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference.