National Hockey League
The National Hockey League began in Montreal, Quebec
FIRST US TEAM JOINS
The Boston Bruins joined the NHL
The NHL assumed control of Stanley Cup competition
The first NHL All-Star Game was played
The Toronto Maple Leafs became the first NHL team to win the Stanley Cup three consecutive seasons in a row
The Edmonton Oilers and Wayne Gretzky joined the NHL
The League added its 25th and 26th teams, The Florida Panthers and The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
“I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.”
NHL Takes Over from the NHA
The National Hockey League (NHL), although founded in 1917 in Montreal Quebec with four teams, is now headquartered in New York City with 31 teams* (24 U.S. teams, 7 Canadian teams). Currently the NHL is the only league that competes for North America’s oldest sports trophy – the Stanley Cup. The NHL came into being when the National Hockey Association (NHA), founded in 1909, was suspended because of ownership disputes. Players in the NHL call 20 different countries home, although most players are from Canada. The Boston Bruins were the first U.S. team to join the NHL in 1924.
Some Details of the Game
Ice hockey is a 60-minute game comprised of three 20-minute periods. The team with the most goals wins; however, if there is a tie, then overtime rules come into play.
Over the years, there have been four large labor disputes in the NHL – one of which resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2004 season, a total of 310 days.
Hockey is one of the sports that has come under recent scrutiny for head injuries and long-term consequences of concussions. The sport now has a Vice-President of Player Safety, and the NHL has paid out approximately $765 million in player lawsuits.
The Great One
Undeniably the most famous figure in hockey is Canadian Wayne Gretzky (born 1961). Not only did he play professional hockey for 20 seasons for four teams, but he coached as well. He is the leading scorer in the NHL; the only one to score over 200 points in one season.*** The area behind his opponent’s net was called “Gretzky’s office” for his ability to read the puck’s position as well as dodging other players – he was always at the right place at the right time. He started playing in backyard rinks and moved up through the minor leagues. He has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and his jersey number, 99, has been retired.
Olympic Ice Hockey
Since 1924, ice hockey has been a medal sport in the Winter Olympics. It was also the Ice Hockey World Championship from 1920 to 1968. Although the Olympics were traditionally an amateur competition, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed professional athletes to compete in 1987, with ice hockey pros joining in 1998.
In the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid NY, the Soviet team was favored to win as they had in the previous six Olympics. However, they had not counted on the Miracle on Ice – a win by the U.S. underdogs over them, and Finland. During the final seconds of the match, Al Michaels of ABC exclaimed, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”.
Did You Know?
- Due to a season that is 82-games in length (with an additional 3-month post season), women abandoned by men hooked on hockey are known as “hockey widows.”
- The first woman to play in any North American pro sports league was Manon Rheaume who, in 1992, was the goaltender for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a pre-season game.
* The 31st team, which will join the league in 2017, is a franchise based in Las Vegas – the Golden Knights.
** Gretzky did this four times.
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Overtime rules can be complicated
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