The National Hockey League was a North American ice hockey league which had teams playing in Canada and the United States. It was formed, November 16, 1917 in Montreal.



It was established in 1917 as a successor to the National Hockey Association and it began with four teams in 1917-18 with Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Hockey Club, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Wanderers. The first season saw the Montreal Canadiens stadium burned down which led to the withdrawal of the team as they never returned. In the first season, it was the Toronto Arenas taking the trophy. Ottawa Senators won the next three competitions after winning both halfs of the 1919-20 season and only just scraping the second half, the next year. The Stanley Cup though wasn't played during 1919 because of the Spanish Flu epidemic.

During the mid 20's the National Hockey League became the sole competition after the PCHA and the WCHL merged in 1924 but would soon only last two seasons before disbanding in 1926. The Hamilton Tigers came in the competition during the second season and in the 1924-25 as they took out the National Hockey League premiership before clinching the Stanley Cup. During that season, the NHL expanded to six teams with the Montreal Maroons and the Boston Bruins joining the league. For Boston they would struggle while Montreal Maroons, they would win the Stanley Cup in the second season which was the last before it became exclusively NHL. The Pittsburgh Pirates joined the league in 1926 but would only last two seasons as they struggled to gain attention and would drop out of the competition.

The Stanley Cup and the fall of the league

With only the National Hockey League the main ice hockey tournament in North America, the Stanley Cup for the first time was played between two teams of the same league. Three American teams joined the league in the 1926-27 season with the New York Rangers joining, Chicago Black Hawks and the Detroit Cougars joining the league. In the new nine team league, the Ottawa Senators took the Stanley Cup after they defeated the Chicago Black Hawks in the Stanley Cup final. In 1929, the first American team won the league with the Boston Bruins defeating the Ottawa Senators.

The Great Depression though stopped the progress with the Ottawa Senators and the Detroit Falcons both folding in the 1932 season which put the league under real stress with only seven teams entering the 1932-33 season. It soon became six when the Hamilton Tigers withdrew from the league. The National Hockey League was now on shaky ground with teams struggling with money issues. Another team fell in the 1935 season with the New York Rangers not being able to finish the season off. The league closing down on the April 6, 1935 with Montreal Maroons winning the final championship over the Montreal Wanderers.

Restart after World War II

After the Second World War, rumours were starting to circulate that the NHL was propsing to come back with a six-team league. The rumour would come to be true with the New York Rangers and the Detroit Red Wings (formely known as the Detroit Falcons) came back into the league at the expense of the Montreal Wanderers. The six-team started in 1947 with the Stanley Cup which hadn't been played for almost ten years being the big prize. In the first season of the new NHL, it was Toronto Maple Leaves that did take out the title after they defeated Detroit 4-0. Toronto would take the next two titles which did involve Richard Rolt who became the first player to score 500 career goals.

After Toronto won the 1951 Stanley Cup defeating fellow Canadian opponents in Montreal, the 1952 season would be the first since 1934 that a non-Canadian team would win the title with the Detroit Red Wings and the Boston Bruins knocking out the Canadian opponents in the play-off semi-finals with Detroit taking out the Stanley Cup after they brought an octopus on the ice hockey rink in hope of an eighth victory on their way to the first title. They would win the match 4-0 against Boston and the legend was born.

The 1952-53 NHL season would see the last one to be played over two years with the playoff bracket shrinking to only two teams with Detroit and Montreal making the Stanley Cup. Montreal would take out the title. Detroit would get revenge in the next season with the team winning 4-2 over six games to retake the title from Montreal.


Current Teams

Team City Founded Joined
Boston Bruins Boston, MA 1924
Chicago Black Hawks Chicago, IL 1927
Detroit Red Wings Detroit, MC 1927
Montreal Maroons Montreal, QC 1924
New York Rangers New York, NY 1927
Toronto Maples Leafs Toronto, ON 1917

Defunct teams

Team City Founded Joined Left
Hamilton Tigers Hamilton, ON 1920 1933
Montreal Canadiens Montreal, QC 1909 1917
Montreal Wanderers Montreal, QC 1903 1917 1935
Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh, PA 1925 1926
Philadelphia Quakers Philadelphia, PN 1930 1931
Ottawa Senators Ottawa, ON 1883 1917 1932


Before the Stanley Cup

Year Winning team
1918 Toronto Arenas
1919 Ottawa Senators
1920 Ottawa Senators
1921 Ottawa Senators
1922 Toronto St. Patricks
1923 Montreal Wanderers
1924 Ottawa Senators
1925 Hamilton Tigers
1926 Montreal Maroons

Stanley Cup

Year Winning team Losing team Result
1927 Ottawa Senators Chicago Black Hawks 3-1
1928 Montreal Maroons New York Rangers 3-2
1929 Boston Bruins Ottawa Senators 3-1
1930 Montreal Wanderers Boston Bruins 3-1
1931 Montreal Wanderers Chicago Black Hawks 3-1
1932 Toronto Maples Leafs Boston Bruins 3-0
1933 New York Rangers Toronto Maples Leafs 3-0
1934 Chicago Black Hawks Toronto Maples Leafs 3-0
1935 Montreal Maroons Montreal Wanderers 3-0
1948 Toronto Maples Leafs Detroit Red Wings 4-0
1949 Toronto Maples Leafs Detroit Red Wings 4-1
1950 Toronto Maples Leafs New York Rangers 4-0
1951 Toronto Maples Leafs Montreal Maroons 4-1
1952 Detroit Red Wings Boston Bruins 4-0
1953 Montreal Maroons Detroit Red Wings 4-1
1954 Detroit Red Wings Montreal Maroons 4-2


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