National Hockey League

The modernized NHL shield logo debuted in 2005, replacing the orange and black shield, which had been used since the league's inception. The silver color is a homage to the Stanley Cup, the trophy awarded to the NHL champion.

The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional sports organization composed of hockey teams in the United States and Canada, where it is also known by its French name, Ligue Nationale de Hockey (LNH). It is generally regarded as the premier professional ice hockey league in the world. The NHL is one of the major professional sports leagues of North America.

History

The beginnings to The Original Six

The National Hockey League was founded in 1917 in Montreal after a series of disputes within the (Canadian) National Hockey Association (NHA) between the Toronto Blueshirts' owner Edward J. Livingstone and the owners of the other teams. The owners met in Montreal's Windsor Hotel to consider the league's future on February 11, 1917. Livingstone, unable to attend the meeting because of illness, was shocked to learn that owners had chosen to effectively eject him and the Blueshirts from the NHA. Arguments and discussions ensued which eventually led to the formation of the National Hockey League at on November 26, 1917, with the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs and newly-renamed Toronto Arenas as founding members.

The classic NHL shield logo, used until the end of the 2004 lockout.

The NHL endured a rocky inaugural season in 1917-18, starting with the temporary shuttering of the Bulldogs. On January 2, 1918, the Westmount Arena in Montreal, home to the Wanderers and Canadiens, was destroyed in a fire. The Wanderers, already a shadow of its former self, folded in the wake of the fire, ending one of the most storied franchises in the early years of Canadian professional hockey. With the Bulldogs and Wanderers out, the NHL operated with just three teams for the remainder of its opening year, and through the second season.

Though the league struggled to stay in business during its first decade, NHL teams were quite successful on the ice, winning the Stanley Cup seven out of its first nine years. (The 1918-19 competition was cancelled because of the Spanish Flu epidemic that had hit Seattle). By 1926, having increased player salaries to a level that couldn't be matched by other Canadian leagues, the NHL was alone in Stanley Cup competition. The league had also expanded into the United States, with the Boston Bruins in 1924, the New York Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925 and the New York Rangers, Detroit Cougars (later to become the Red Wings), and Chicago Blackhawks in 1926. Canadian additions included the Montreal Maroons and Hamilton Tigers. By the end of the 1930-31 season, the NHL featured a total of 10 teams. However, the Great Depression took a toll on the league; teams such as the Pirates, Americans and Ottawa Senators folded. With these developments and the onset of World War II, the NHL was reduced to six teams during its 25th anniversary year of (1942) – six teams still known today, if somewhat inaccurately, as the Original Six: The Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Bruins, Rangers, and Blackhawks.

Expansion: 1967 and beyond

The rise of the Western Hockey League, which many pundits thought planned to transform into a major league and challenge for the Stanley Cup, spurred the NHL in 1967 to undertake its first expansion since the 1920s. Six new teams were added to the NHL roster, and placed in their own newly-created division. They were the Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Oakland Seals, and Pittsburgh Penguins. Three years later, the NHL added the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres as franchises.

In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) was formed. Though it never challenged for the Stanley Cup, its status as a viable NHL rival was unquestionable. In response to that, the NHL decided to rush its own expansion plans by adding the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames that year, along with the Kansas City Scouts and Washington Capitals two years later. The dilution of the talent pool, however, caused the overall quality of play to suffer. The two leagues fought for the services of hockey players and fans until the WHA folded in 1979. Four of the remaining six WHA teams merged with the NHL: The Hartford Whalers, Québec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers, and Winnipeg Jets. As of 2005, the Oilers are the last remaining original WHA franchise still playing in the city where they began in the NHL.

In the early 90's the NHL expanded further with five new franchises. The San Jose Sharks debuted in 1991, a season later the Ottawa Senators would join the NHL along with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In 1993, the NHL added an additional two teams, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the Florida Panthers. Approaching the new millennium, the NHL added another four teams; the Nashville Predators (1998), the Atlanta Thrashers (1999), the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets (both added in 2000) bringing the total to 30 teams.

Labour Issues

There have been three work stoppages in NHL history, all happening between 1992 and 2005.

The first was a strike by the National Hockey League Players Association in April 1992 which lasted for 10 days, but the strike was settled quickly and all affected games were rescheduled.

A lockout at the start of the 1994-95 forced the league to reduce the schedule from 84 games to just 48, with the teams playing only intra-conference games during the reduced season. The resulting collective bargaining agreement was set for renegotiation in 1998 and extended to September 15, 2004.

Negotiations to replace the contract that expired in 2004 turned into one of the most contentious collective bargaining sessions in the history of professional sports. The league vowed to install what it dubbed "cost certainty" for its teams, but the National Hockey League Players Association countered that the move was little more than a euphemism for a salary cap, which the union initially said it would not accept. With no new agreement in hand when the existing contract expired on September 15, 2004, league commissioner Gary Bettman announced a lockout of the players union and cessation of operations by the NHL head office, causing the NHL to lose an entire season.

A new collective bargaining agreement was ratified in July 2005 with a term of six years with an option of extending the collective bargaining agreement for an additional year at the end of the term, allowing the NHL to resume as of the 2005-06 season.

Post Lockout

On October 5, 2005, the first post-lockout NHL season got under way with 15 games. Of those 15 games, 11 were in front of sell out crowds. The NHL, despite negative press generated during the lockout, has success attracting fans to the initial games of the season and extends fan bases into non-traditional markets in the US such as Nashville, Atlanta, and the Carolinas.

Current organization

The National Hockey League currently has 30 teams divided into two conferences, and 6 divisions, an organization that started in the year 2000. Over the years many different organizations have existed. For a list of previous teams see List of defunct NHL teams.

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

Season structure

Regular season

Each team in the NHL plays 82 regular season games, 41 games at home and 41 on the road. Teams play 32 games within their division (8 games against four other teams), 40 games against non-divisional, conference opponents (4 games against 10 other teams) and 10 interconference games, 1 game against each team in two of the three divisions in the opposite conference. The two divisions from the opposite conference which each team plays against will be rotated every year, much like interleague play in baseball.

Points are awarded for each game as follows:

  • Two points are awarded for a win
  • One point for losing in overtime or a shootout
  • Zero points for a loss in regulation time.

At the end of the regular season, the team that finishes with the most points in each division is crowned the division champion.

Stanley Cup playoffs

At the end of the regular season, the three division champions and the five other teams in each conference with the highest number of points, 8 teams in each conference, qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The division winners are seeded one through three, and the next five teams with the best records in the conference are seeded four through eight.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs is an elimination tournament, where two teams battle to win a best-of-seven series in order to advance to the next round. The first round of the playoffs, or conference quarterfinals, consists of the first seed playing the eighth seed, the second playing the seventh, third playing the sixth, and the fourth playing the fifth. In the second round, or conference semifinals, the NHL re-seeds (unlike the NBA) the teams, with the top remaining conference seed playing against the lowest remaining seed, and the other two remaining conference teams pairing off. In the third round, the conference finals, the two remaining teams in each conference play each other, with the conference champions proceeding to the Stanley Cup Finals.

In each round the higher-ranked team is said to be the team with the home-ice advantage. Four of the seven games are played at this team's home venue - the first and second, and, where necessary, the fifth and seventh, with the other games played at the lower-ranked team's home venue.

During playoff games if the score is tied at the end of the third period an overtime period is played. If the score is tied at the end of an overtime period, additional overtime periods are played until a winner is determined. Overtimes are also full periods of twenty minutes (of five-on-five hockey), rather than the five minutes (of four-on-four hockey, followed by a shootout) in the regular season. The overtime is sudden death with the game ending when either team scores a goal.

Rules

While the National Hockey League follows the general rules of Ice hockey, it differs slightly from those used in international games organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation such as the Olympics.

Game timing

Each game is 60 minutes composed of three 20 minute periods. Between each period there is a 15 minute intermission. Between stoppages of play, teams have 25 seconds before substituting their players except for referee stoppages for TV commercials.

Each team may also take one 30 second time-out which may only be taken during a normal stoppage of play.

Hockey rink

The hockey rink is an ice rink which is rectangular with rounded corners and surrounded by a wall . The red line divides the ice in half lengthwise. The red line is used to judge icing violations. There are two blue lines that divide the rink roughly into thirds. They divide the ice into zones. Near each end of the rink, there is a thin red goal line spanning the width of the ice. It is used to judge goals and icing calls.

Scoring and winning

A goal is scored when the puck passes the goal line and enters the net. The team that has the most goals at the end of 60 minutes wins the game. If the game is tied at the end of regulation time, a 5 minute, 4-on-4 sudden death overtime period is played, where the first team that scores a goal wins the game. If the game is still tied at the end of overtime, the game enters a shootout. Three players for each team in turn perform a penalty shot. The team with the most goals during this shootout wins the game. If the game is still tied after the three shootout rounds, the shootout continues, but becomes sudden death.

Offside

In ice hockey, play is said to be offside if a player on the attacking team enters the attacking zone before the puck. When an offside violation occurs, the linesman blows play dead, and a faceoff is conducted in the neutral zone.

The NHL in 2006 removed the offside pass or two-line pass which was a pass from inside a team's defending zone that crosses the red line.

Icing

Icing occurs when a player shoots the puck across both the red line and the opposing team's goal line without the puck going into the net. When icing occurs, a linesman stops play. Play is resumed with a faceoff in the defending zone of the team that committed the infraction. A short handed team is not penalized for clearing the puck out of its zone during a powerplay. If the goalie on the side of the ice where the puck is being sent touches the puck, the icing is waved off.

Under the rules following the 2004-2005 lockout, if a team ices the puck under five-on-five conditions, they are not allowed to make a line change for the following faceoff.

Penalties

A penalty is a punishment for inappropriate behaviour. A referee makes all penalty calls. A linesman may call only obvious technical infractions such as too many men on the ice. In the NHL, the Linesman may call major intent-to-injure penalties that the referee may have missed.

During a penalty, the player who committed the infraction is sent to the penalty box. In most cases, the penalized team cannot replace that player and is thus shorthanded for the duration of the penalty. Normally, hockey teams have five skaters (excluding the goaltender), so if one penalty is called, play becomes five-on-four.

This is called a power play for the attackers and a penalty kill for the defenders. A team is far more likely to score on a power play than during normal play. If the penalized team is scored on during a minor penalty, the penalty immediately ends.

Trophies and awards

Stanley Cup on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame

The National Hockey League presents numerous trophies per year; some are given to teams, and other are given to players.

Trophies awarded to teams

  • Stanley Cup -- overall playoff champion.
  • Clarence S. Campbell Bowl -- Western conference playoff champion.
  • Prince of Wales Trophy -- Eastern conference playoff champion.
  • Presidents' Trophy (1986 - present) - best regular season by a team
  • The O'Brien Trophy was awarded in the NHL before it was retired following the 1949-50 NHL season.

Trophies awarded to individuals

  • Art Ross Memorial Trophy (1948 - present) -- regular season league scoring champion
  • Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (1968 - present) -- perseverance and sportsmanship
  • Calder Memorial Trophy (1933 - present) -- rookie of the year
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (1965 - present) -- most valuable player during the playoffs
  • Frank J. Selke Trophy (1978 - present) -- top defensive forward
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (1924 - present) -- most valuable player during the regular season
  • Jack Adams Award (1974 - present) -- coach of the year
  • James Norris Memorial Trophy (1954 - present)-- most outstanding defenceman
  • King Clancy Memorial Trophy (1988 - present) -- leadership and humanitarian contribution
  • Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (1925 - present) -- player combining ability and sportsmanship
  • Lester B. Pearson Award (1971 - present) -- most outstanding player as selected by peers
  • Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy (1999 - present) -- to the goal-scoring leader during the regular season
  • NHL Plus/Minus Award (1968 - present) -- highest plus/minus statistic
  • Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award (2000 - present) -- best save percentage by a goalkeeper
  • Vezina Trophy (1927 - present) -- voted to be the most outstanding goaltender
  • William M. Jennings Trophy (1982 - present) -- goalkeeper(s) for the team with the fewest goals against them
  • The Lester Patrick Trophy has been presented by the National Hockey League since 1966 to honour a recipient's contribution to hockey in the United States.

Three years after retirement, players are eligible to be voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In the past, if a player was deemed significant enough, the pending period would be waived. However, only 10 individual have been honoured in this manner. In 1999 Wayne Gretzky became the last player to have the three years waived. After Gretzky's induction, the NHL declared that he would be the last one to have the waiting period omitted.

NHL: An International League

NHL is very proud of its players coming from all around the world. Since the 1990s, the league has tried to promote itself throughout Europe with ads, media, and magazines. The league also voluntarily stops its season so that its players can play in the Winter Olympics to have the players represent their own country. While the league has always had a strong Canadian majority, the percentage of Canadian players has gone down slowly in the past 20 years since the arrival of European players.


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While the league has always had a strong Canadian majority, the percentage of Canadian players has gone down slowly in the past 20 years since the arrival of European players. St Andrew's Day is observed on November 30 in both the Eastern and Western churches, and is the national day of Scotland. The league also voluntarily stops its season so that its players can play in the Winter Olympics to have the players represent their own country. The saltire is also the Flag of Tenerife and the naval jack of Russia. Since the 1990s, the league has tried to promote itself throughout Europe with ads, media, and magazines. The flag of Scotland (and consequently the Union Flag and the arms and Flag of Nova Scotia, and possibly the Confederate flag) feature a saltire in commemoration of the shape of St Andrew's cross. NHL is very proud of its players coming from all around the world. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Greece, Russia, and Romania.

After Gretzky's induction, the NHL declared that he would be the last one to have the waiting period omitted. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, which declared Scottish independence from England, cites Scotland's conversion to Christianity by St Andrew, "the first to be an Apostle", as evidence of Scotland being held in especially high regard by God. In 1999 Wayne Gretzky became the last player to have the three years waived. While a satisfying piece of folklore, there is no more evidence for this than any other theory. However, only 10 individual have been honoured in this manner. They therefore decided that the patron of the Celtic Church would now be Peter's older brother. In the past, if a player was deemed significant enough, the pending period would be waived. A third theory as to Andrew's connection with Scotland is that, following the Synod of Whitby, the Celtic Church felt that Columba had been "outranked" by Peter.

Three years after retirement, players are eligible to be voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. However, there is evidence Andrew was venerated in Scotland before this, and the two kings in question do not appear to have ruled at the same time. The National Hockey League presents numerous trophies per year; some are given to teams, and other are given to players. Another legend says that in the late 8th century, during a joint battle with the English, King Oengus mac Fergus of the Picts and King Eochaid IV of Dalriada, saw a cloud shaped like a saltire, and declared Andrew was watching over them, and if they won by his grace, then he would be their patron saint. If the penalized team is scored on during a minor penalty, the penalty immediately ends. The connection with Regulus is, therefore, due in all probability to the desire to date the foundation of the church at St Andrews as early as possible. A team is far more likely to score on a power play than during normal play. 732), and founded a see, not, according to tradition, in Galloway, but on the site of St Andrews.

This is called a power play for the attackers and a penalty kill for the defenders. There are good reasons for supposing that the relics were originally in the collection of Acca, bishop of Hexham, who took them into Pictish country when he was driven from Hexham (c. Normally, hockey teams have five skaters (excluding the goaltender), so if one penalty is called, play becomes five-on-four. 573-600. In most cases, the penalized team cannot replace that player and is thus shorthanded for the duration of the penalty. The only historical Regulus (Riagail or Rule) — the name is preserved by the tower of St Rule — was an Irish monk expelled from Ireland with St Columba; his date, however, is c. During a penalty, the player who committed the infraction is sent to the penalty box. 731-761).

In the NHL, the Linesman may call major intent-to-injure penalties that the referee may have missed. They state that the relics of Andrew were brought by one Regulus to the Pictish king Angus (or Ungus) mac Fergus (c. A linesman may call only obvious technical infractions such as too many men on the ice. The oldest surviving accounts are two: one among the manuscripts collected by Colbert and willed to the King, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, the other in the Harleian Mss in the British Library, London. A referee makes all penalty calls. Concerning this there are several legends which state that the relics of Andrew were brought under supernatural guidance from Constantinople to the place where the modern St Andrews stands (Pictish, Muckross; Gaelic, Cill Rìmhinn). A penalty is a punishment for inappropriate behaviour. About the middle of the 10th century, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland.

Under the rules following the 2004-2005 lockout, if a team ices the puck under five-on-five conditions, they are not allowed to make a line change for the following faceoff. Relics: St Andrew Basilica - Patras (Greece), St Anrea Dome - Amalfi (Italy), and St Andrew & St Albert church - Warsaw (Poland). If the goalie on the side of the ice where the puck is being sent touches the puck, the icing is waved off. Andrew is represented in art as an old man with long white hair and a beard, holding the Gospel in his right hand, and leaning on his characteristic saltire cross. A short handed team is not penalized for clearing the puck out of its zone during a powerplay. Another version of the Andrew legend is found in the Passio Andreae, published by Max Bonnet (Supplementum II Codicis apocryphi, Paris, 1895). Play is resumed with a faceoff in the defending zone of the team that committed the infraction. The Acts of Andrew was edited and published by Constantin von Tischendorf in the Acta Apostolorum apocrypha (Leipzig, 1821), putting it for the first time into the hands of a critical professional readership.

When icing occurs, a linesman stops play. The Acts, as well as a Gospel of St Andrew, appear among rejected books in the Decretum Gelasianum connected with the name of Pope Gelasius I. Icing occurs when a player shoots the puck across both the red line and the opposing team's goal line without the puck going into the net. James, who edited them in 1924. The NHL in 2006 removed the offside pass or two-line pass which was a pass from inside a team's defending zone that crosses the red line. 260," was the opinion of C.R. When an offside violation occurs, the linesman blows play dead, and a faceoff is conducted in the neutral zone. They belong to the third century: ca. A.D.

In ice hockey, play is said to be offside if a player on the attacking team enters the attacking zone before the puck. "These Acts may be the latest of the five leading apostolic romances. If the game is still tied after the three shootout rounds, the shootout continues, but becomes sudden death. The apocryphal Acts of Andrew, mentioned by Eusebius, Epiphanius and others, is among a disparate group Acts of Apostles that were traditionally attributed to Leucius Charinus. The team with the most goals during this shootout wins the game. The relics, which consist of the small finger and part of the top of the cranium of St Andrew, are since kept in the Church of St Andrew at Patras in a special tomb, and are reverenced in a special ceremony every November 30. Three players for each team in turn perform a penalty shot. In recent years, the relics were kept in the Vatican City, but were sent back to Patras by decision of the Pope Paul VI in 1964.

If the game is still tied at the end of overtime, the game enters a shootout. Local legends say that the relics were sold to the Romans by the local priests in exchange of the Romans constructing a water reservoir for the city. If the game is tied at the end of regulation time, a 5 minute, 4-on-4 sudden death overtime period is played, where the first team that scores a goal wins the game. According to tradition his relics were removed from Patras to Constantinople, and thence to St Andrews (see below). The team that has the most goals at the end of 60 minutes wins the game. St Andrew is the patron of Patras. A goal is scored when the puck passes the goal line and enters the net. He is said to have suffered crucifixion at Patras (Patrae) in Achaea, on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross) and commonly known as "St Andrew's cross".

It is used to judge goals and icing calls. Traditionally, he was the first bishop of Byzantium, a position which would later become Patriarch of Constantinople. Near each end of the rink, there is a thin red goal line spanning the width of the ice. Hence he became a patron saint of Romania and Russia. They divide the ice into zones. Eusebius quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, along the Black Sea as far as the Volga. There are two blue lines that divide the rink roughly into thirds. In the gospels he is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus (Mark 13:3; John 6:8, 12:22); in Acts there is only a bare mention of him (1:13).

The red line is used to judge icing violations. He lived at Capernaum (Mark 1:29). The red line divides the ice in half lengthwise. He had been a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:37-40) and was one of the first to follow Jesus. The hockey rink is an ice rink which is rectangular with rounded corners and surrounded by a wall . Since he was a Jew, Andreas was almost certainly not his given name, but no Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him. Each team may also take one 30 second time-out which may only be taken during a normal stoppage of play. According to Christian Doctrine, Andrew was born at Bethsaida on the Lake of Galilee.

Between stoppages of play, teams have 25 seconds before substituting their players except for referee stoppages for TV commercials. Saint Andrew (Greek: Andreas, "manly"), called in the Orthodox tradition Protocletos, or the First-called, is a Christian Apostle, brother of Saint Peter. Between each period there is a 15 minute intermission. Each game is 60 minutes composed of three 20 minute periods. While the National Hockey League follows the general rules of Ice hockey, it differs slightly from those used in international games organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation such as the Olympics.

The overtime is sudden death with the game ending when either team scores a goal. Overtimes are also full periods of twenty minutes (of five-on-five hockey), rather than the five minutes (of four-on-four hockey, followed by a shootout) in the regular season. If the score is tied at the end of an overtime period, additional overtime periods are played until a winner is determined. During playoff games if the score is tied at the end of the third period an overtime period is played.

Four of the seven games are played at this team's home venue - the first and second, and, where necessary, the fifth and seventh, with the other games played at the lower-ranked team's home venue. In each round the higher-ranked team is said to be the team with the home-ice advantage. In the third round, the conference finals, the two remaining teams in each conference play each other, with the conference champions proceeding to the Stanley Cup Finals. In the second round, or conference semifinals, the NHL re-seeds (unlike the NBA) the teams, with the top remaining conference seed playing against the lowest remaining seed, and the other two remaining conference teams pairing off.

The first round of the playoffs, or conference quarterfinals, consists of the first seed playing the eighth seed, the second playing the seventh, third playing the sixth, and the fourth playing the fifth. The Stanley Cup Playoffs is an elimination tournament, where two teams battle to win a best-of-seven series in order to advance to the next round. The division winners are seeded one through three, and the next five teams with the best records in the conference are seeded four through eight. At the end of the regular season, the three division champions and the five other teams in each conference with the highest number of points, 8 teams in each conference, qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

At the end of the regular season, the team that finishes with the most points in each division is crowned the division champion. Points are awarded for each game as follows:. The two divisions from the opposite conference which each team plays against will be rotated every year, much like interleague play in baseball. Teams play 32 games within their division (8 games against four other teams), 40 games against non-divisional, conference opponents (4 games against 10 other teams) and 10 interconference games, 1 game against each team in two of the three divisions in the opposite conference.

Each team in the NHL plays 82 regular season games, 41 games at home and 41 on the road. For a list of previous teams see List of defunct NHL teams. Over the years many different organizations have existed. The National Hockey League currently has 30 teams divided into two conferences, and 6 divisions, an organization that started in the year 2000.

The NHL, despite negative press generated during the lockout, has success attracting fans to the initial games of the season and extends fan bases into non-traditional markets in the US such as Nashville, Atlanta, and the Carolinas. Of those 15 games, 11 were in front of sell out crowds. On October 5, 2005, the first post-lockout NHL season got under way with 15 games. A new collective bargaining agreement was ratified in July 2005 with a term of six years with an option of extending the collective bargaining agreement for an additional year at the end of the term, allowing the NHL to resume as of the 2005-06 season.

With no new agreement in hand when the existing contract expired on September 15, 2004, league commissioner Gary Bettman announced a lockout of the players union and cessation of operations by the NHL head office, causing the NHL to lose an entire season. The league vowed to install what it dubbed "cost certainty" for its teams, but the National Hockey League Players Association countered that the move was little more than a euphemism for a salary cap, which the union initially said it would not accept. Negotiations to replace the contract that expired in 2004 turned into one of the most contentious collective bargaining sessions in the history of professional sports. The resulting collective bargaining agreement was set for renegotiation in 1998 and extended to September 15, 2004.

A lockout at the start of the 1994-95 forced the league to reduce the schedule from 84 games to just 48, with the teams playing only intra-conference games during the reduced season. The first was a strike by the National Hockey League Players Association in April 1992 which lasted for 10 days, but the strike was settled quickly and all affected games were rescheduled. There have been three work stoppages in NHL history, all happening between 1992 and 2005. Approaching the new millennium, the NHL added another four teams; the Nashville Predators (1998), the Atlanta Thrashers (1999), the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets (both added in 2000) bringing the total to 30 teams.

In 1993, the NHL added an additional two teams, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the Florida Panthers. The San Jose Sharks debuted in 1991, a season later the Ottawa Senators would join the NHL along with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the early 90's the NHL expanded further with five new franchises. As of 2005, the Oilers are the last remaining original WHA franchise still playing in the city where they began in the NHL.

Four of the remaining six WHA teams merged with the NHL: The Hartford Whalers, Québec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers, and Winnipeg Jets. The two leagues fought for the services of hockey players and fans until the WHA folded in 1979. The dilution of the talent pool, however, caused the overall quality of play to suffer. In response to that, the NHL decided to rush its own expansion plans by adding the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames that year, along with the Kansas City Scouts and Washington Capitals two years later.

Though it never challenged for the Stanley Cup, its status as a viable NHL rival was unquestionable. In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) was formed. Three years later, the NHL added the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres as franchises. Louis Blues, Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Oakland Seals, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

They were the Philadelphia Flyers, St. Six new teams were added to the NHL roster, and placed in their own newly-created division. The rise of the Western Hockey League, which many pundits thought planned to transform into a major league and challenge for the Stanley Cup, spurred the NHL in 1967 to undertake its first expansion since the 1920s. With these developments and the onset of World War II, the NHL was reduced to six teams during its 25th anniversary year of (1942) – six teams still known today, if somewhat inaccurately, as the Original Six: The Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Bruins, Rangers, and Blackhawks.

However, the Great Depression took a toll on the league; teams such as the Pirates, Americans and Ottawa Senators folded. By the end of the 1930-31 season, the NHL featured a total of 10 teams. Canadian additions included the Montreal Maroons and Hamilton Tigers. The league had also expanded into the United States, with the Boston Bruins in 1924, the New York Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925 and the New York Rangers, Detroit Cougars (later to become the Red Wings), and Chicago Blackhawks in 1926.

By 1926, having increased player salaries to a level that couldn't be matched by other Canadian leagues, the NHL was alone in Stanley Cup competition. (The 1918-19 competition was cancelled because of the Spanish Flu epidemic that had hit Seattle). Though the league struggled to stay in business during its first decade, NHL teams were quite successful on the ice, winning the Stanley Cup seven out of its first nine years. With the Bulldogs and Wanderers out, the NHL operated with just three teams for the remainder of its opening year, and through the second season.

The Wanderers, already a shadow of its former self, folded in the wake of the fire, ending one of the most storied franchises in the early years of Canadian professional hockey. On January 2, 1918, the Westmount Arena in Montreal, home to the Wanderers and Canadiens, was destroyed in a fire. The NHL endured a rocky inaugural season in 1917-18, starting with the temporary shuttering of the Bulldogs. Arguments and discussions ensued which eventually led to the formation of the National Hockey League at on November 26, 1917, with the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs and newly-renamed Toronto Arenas as founding members.

Livingstone, unable to attend the meeting because of illness, was shocked to learn that owners had chosen to effectively eject him and the Blueshirts from the NHA. The owners met in Montreal's Windsor Hotel to consider the league's future on February 11, 1917. Livingstone and the owners of the other teams. The National Hockey League was founded in 1917 in Montreal after a series of disputes within the (Canadian) National Hockey Association (NHA) between the Toronto Blueshirts' owner Edward J.

. The NHL is one of the major professional sports leagues of North America.

. It is generally regarded as the premier professional ice hockey league in the world. The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional sports organization composed of hockey teams in the United States and Canada, where it is also known by its French name, Ligue Nationale de Hockey (LNH).

The Lester Patrick Trophy has been presented by the National Hockey League since 1966 to honour a recipient's contribution to hockey in the United States. Jennings Trophy (1982 - present) -- goalkeeper(s) for the team with the fewest goals against them. William M. Vezina Trophy (1927 - present) -- voted to be the most outstanding goaltender.

Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award (2000 - present) -- best save percentage by a goalkeeper. NHL Plus/Minus Award (1968 - present) -- highest plus/minus statistic. Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy (1999 - present) -- to the goal-scoring leader during the regular season. Pearson Award (1971 - present) -- most outstanding player as selected by peers.

Lester B. Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (1925 - present) -- player combining ability and sportsmanship. King Clancy Memorial Trophy (1988 - present) -- leadership and humanitarian contribution. James Norris Memorial Trophy (1954 - present)-- most outstanding defenceman.

Jack Adams Award (1974 - present) -- coach of the year. Hart Memorial Trophy (1924 - present) -- most valuable player during the regular season. Selke Trophy (1978 - present) -- top defensive forward. Frank J.

Conn Smythe Trophy (1965 - present) -- most valuable player during the playoffs. Calder Memorial Trophy (1933 - present) -- rookie of the year. Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (1968 - present) -- perseverance and sportsmanship. Art Ross Memorial Trophy (1948 - present) -- regular season league scoring champion.

The O'Brien Trophy was awarded in the NHL before it was retired following the 1949-50 NHL season. Presidents' Trophy (1986 - present) - best regular season by a team. Prince of Wales Trophy -- Eastern conference playoff champion. Campbell Bowl -- Western conference playoff champion.

Clarence S. Stanley Cup -- overall playoff champion. Zero points for a loss in regulation time. One point for losing in overtime or a shootout.

Two points are awarded for a win.

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