- NHL is also an abbreviation for National Historic Landmark and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional sports organization composed of ice hockey teams in the United States and Canada, where it is also known by its French name, Ligue Nationale de Hockey.
The National Hockey League was founded in 1917 after a series of disputes within the National Hockey Association.
The primary conflict involved Blueshirts owner Edward J. Livingstone. An ongoing source of controversy among fellow NHA owners, he was often accused of exploiting loopholes in league regulations to create what some viewed as unfair advantages. Livingstone had particularly incited the wrath of owners when he merged his two Toronto teams (the Ontarios and the Blueshirts) after the Blueshirts had been deprived of its top players.
Livingstone sometimes offered contracts to other teams' members to not play hockey, and once campaigned to kick the Wanderers out of the league after the team tried to lure two of his top Blueshirts players. Throughout his battles with owners, Livingstone repeatedly threatened to start a rival league in the United States.
During the 1916-17 NHA season , six teams comprised the NHA: the Montreal Canadiens, the Montreal Wanderers, the Ottawa Senators, the Quebec Bulldogs, the Toronto Blueshirts, and an army team from the Toronto-based 228th Battalion.
Owners met in Montreal to consider the league's future on February 11, 1917, a day after members of the 228th Battalion, the most popular NHA team, were called into World War I action. 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.
After the resignation of NHA president and Livingstone ally Frank Robinson, Livingstone stopped attending league meetings and sent a lawyer to represent his interests. When owners convened on September 29, 1917, they demanded that Livingstone sell the Blueshirts within five days.
Livingstone then negotiated a deal in which the Toronto Arena Gardens would take control of the Blueshirts' daily business, with Livingstone to eventually regain control if the NHA continued operations.
In response, NHA owners met at Montreal's Windsor Hotel on November 26, 1917, and formed the National Hockey League, with the Canadiens, Wanderers, Senators, Bulldogs and newly-renamed Toronto Arenas as founding members.
The NHL endured a rocky inaugural season in 1918, starting with the temporary shuttering of the Bulldogs. On January 2 the Montreal Arena, 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 Livingstone had been shut out, one of his NHA ideas — a proposal for a split regular season — was adopted by the new league and integrated into its playoff system. The Toronto Arenas became the first NHL winner of the Stanley Cup, the annual trophy awarded since 1894 to the Canadian hockey champion.
A furious Livingstone, meanwhile, failed in his attempt to collect a share of profits from the Arenas, then sued the team and the NHL. The dispute lingered through the 1930s, with the Arenas since renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs.
History has looked back on Livingstone and the NHL's formation with a sense of irony: The man whom league owners had worked so hard to exclude was, in the words of Canadiens owner George Kennedy, the same figure that "made [the NHL] a real league".
Though the league struggled to stay in the 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 1919 competition was canceled 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, and from 1926 to 1931 the league featured 10 teams.
The Great Depression took a toll on the league; teams such as the Philadelphia Quakers came and went, and even the fabled Ottawa Senators were forced to fold because of financial difficulties. 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, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.
World War II had provided many players their first chance to play professional hockey, but after the war, many found themselves relegated to minor leagues. These minor leagues, especially in the western United States and Canada, often fielded teams that likely could have defeated Stanley Cup champions. The rise of the Western Hockey League, which 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 1942 formation of the Original Six. Six new teams, dubbed the Expansion Six , were added to the NHL roster.
In 1972, the World Hockey Association was formed. Though it never challenged for the Stanley Cup, its status as a viable NHL rival was unquestionable. The dilution of the talent pool, however, caused the overall quality of play to suffer. Additionally, the rising dominance of Soviet-style hockey revealed stark differences in the relatively lesser abilities of the mostly Canadian players who made up the NHL and WHA.
The NHL and WHA fought for the services of hockey players and fans until the WHA folded in 1979, when four of its teams joined the NHL.
The NHL continued to expand in the two decades that followed, and in 2004 reached its present total of 30 teams. Though hockey remained popular in Canada, the sport's popularity in the United States, especially in the American south, dwindled to the point where many considered hockey to be a minor sport among American staples such as baseball, basketball, and football.
There have been three work stoppages in NHL history. The first was a strike by the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) in April 1992, which lasted for 10 days. (Though the strike began toward the season's end, it was settled quickly enough for affected games to be rescheduled.) A lockout at the start of the 1994-95 season proved far more disruptive, lasting three months and forcing the league to reduce the schedule from 84 to 48 games. Teams played exclusively intra-conference games during the lockout-shortened season.
The resulting collective bargaining agreement was set for renegotiation in 1998, and the agreement was eventually extended to last until September 15, 2004.
Negotiations for a new agreement, launched in 2004 to replace the expiring 1995 deal, 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. The NHLPA 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.
On February 16, 2005, with negotiations still stalled, the 2004-2005 season was cancelled, and the NHL became the first major North American sports league in history to lose an entire season because of labor disputes. (See also: 2005 in sports).
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Trophies and awards
The National Hockey League also presents numerous trophies, in addition to the Stanley Cup for the overall playoff champion, as well as the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl for the Western Conference playoff champions and the Prince of Wales Trophy for the Eastern Conference playoff champions. They include:
The O'Brien Trophy was awarded in the NHL before it was retired following the 1949-50 NHL season .
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 important enough, however, the waiting period could be waived. This has been done 10 times, after which the rules for eligibility were revised so that the period could not be waived.
The Pearson Award is the only award named after a politician.
Each team in the NHL plays 82 regular season games, 41 home and 41 on the road. Teams play teams from the other conference usually once or twice, teams in the same conference, but a different division three or four times, and teams in the same division five or six times. Two points are awarded for wins, one point for ties, one point for losing in overtime, and zero points for a loss. At the end of the regular season, the team that finishes with the most points in their division is crowned the division champions, and the division champions, along with the five teams from each conference with the most points but did not win the division (wild-card teams), qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs is an elimination tournament, where two teams battle in a best-of-seven series (named as four wins are needed to advance, and thus at most seven games are needed to determine a series winner) in order to advance to the next round. Unlike the regular season, there are no ties, with another period of overtime played should an overtime fail to reach a decision. Overtimes are also full periods of twenty minutes (of five-on-five hockey), rather than the five minutes (of four-on-four hockey) of the regular season. The overtime is played with golden goal rule (sudden death) so the game ends as soon as either team scores a goal. 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.
In each conference, the division winners are seeded one through three and the wild-card teams are seeded four through eight based on their regular-season point totals. In the event of a tie in points in the standings, ties are broken first by amount of wins, then by record against the team that is tied, then goals for and goals againt that team. The first round of the playoffs consists of the first seed playing the eighth seed, the second playing the seventh, third playing the sixth, and the fourth playing the fifth. At the conclusion of the first round, the teams in each conference are reseeded as before, with the top remaining seed playing against the fourth remaining seed, and the second remaining seed playing against the third remaining seed. In the next round, the Conference Finals, the two remaining teams in each conference play each other, with the winners playing against in the Stanley Cup Finals for hockey's Holy Grail.
Presidents/Commissioners of the NHL
Last updated: 10-16-2005 21:47:22