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National Hockey League (NHL) Expansion History

National Hockey League (NHL) Expansion History

National Hockey League (NHL) pages on Rauzulu's Street:

National Hockey League (NHL) Information
National Hockey League (NHL) Directory
National Hockey League Team Information
National Hockey League (NHL) Awards
National Hockey League (NHL) Records
National Hockey League (NHL) Champions
National Hockey League (NHL) All Star Game and Events
National Hockey League (NHL) History of League

Be sure to also check out the NHL Major rule Changes over the years.

Season

Add

Drop

Total

1917-18

4

1

3

1919-20

1

0

4

1924-25

2

0

6

1925-26

1

0

7

1926-27

3

0

10

1931-32

0

2

8

1932-33

1

0

9

1935-36

0

1

8

1937-38

0

1

7

1942-43

0

1

6

1967-68

6

0

12

1970-71

2

0

14

1972-73

2

0

16

1974-75

2

0

18

1978-79

0

1

17

1979-80

4

0

21

1991-92

1

0

22

1992-93

2

0

24

1993-94

2

0

26

1998-99

1

0

27

1999-2000

1

0

28

2000-01

2

0

30

2001-02

0

0

30

2002-03

0

0

30

2003-04

0

0

30

The Original Six.....well believe what you want!!

Actually when the NHL formed in 1917 it consisted of 5 teams, namely the  Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs  and the Toronto Arenas, which was the only team with artificial ice. The Quebec franchise did not operate in the 1918 season. In 1918 the Montreal Arena was destroyed by fire and as a result the Montreal Wanderers withdrew from the league, reducing its membership to three teams. Also in 1918 the Quebec franchise was sold to P. Quinn of Toronto, but the franchise had to play in Quebec. It did not participate in the 1918-19 season. For the 1919-20 season the Quebec Bulldogs  franchise was reactivated. Toronto Arenas changed their name to  Toronto St. Patricks. In 1920-21 the first of many NHL franchises was transferred, from Quebec to Hamilton Ontario. During the 1923-4 season a franchise was granted to the first American team, the Boston Bruins, and also a second Montreal team called the Maroons. As can be seen the first six team NHL occurred in 1924-5 but varied greatly from the six teams promoted today as the  original six.

For the 1925-6 season the Hamilton franchise was dropped, with the players being signed by the new New York American franchise. Also during the  1925-6 season a franchise was granted for Pittsburgh for the following year.  Also in May 1926 the New York Rangers franchise was granted, and in September  the Chicago Blawkhawks and the Detroit Cougars were granted franchises. Finally the league known as the original six is starting to take shape. Also for the  1926-7 season Toronto St. Patrick's changed their name to the Toronto Maple Leafs  after being sold to Hugh Aird and Conn Smythe.

For the 1930-1 season Detroit changed their name to the Detroit Falcons, the Pittsburgh franchise was transferred to Philadelphia being called the  Philadelphia Quakers. For the 1931-2 season, Philadelphia dropped out and Ottawa withdrew for the season, resuming play the following year. During the 1932-3  season the Detroit franchise revises its name again this time to the Detroit  Redwings. For the 1934-5 season Ottawa franchise moves to St. Louis named the St. Louis Eagles. This franchise folds the following year. On March 17, 1938 the Montreal Maroons played their final game. In 1941-2 the New York Americans change their name to the Brooklyn Americans, but end up withdrawing for the 1942-3 season.

And finally we are there. It took 26 years, after the NHL was founded,  but the "original six" teams were now in place. This group of teams played, as the NHL until expansion in the 1967-68 season. This expansion doubled the league  size to 12 teams with the addition of the Minnesota North Stars, California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penquins, and the St. Louis Blues.

Before their first season is over the California Seals became the Oakland Seals, finally ending up the California Golden Seals in 1970. (no name change helped the franchises)

Based on this expansion is where the name the "original six" originated, not  from the formation of the NHL.  The original six teams played in their own  division until the 1970-1 season, when the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks  joined the league.

In 1972-3 two additional teams were added, the Atlanta Flames and the New York Islanders. Expansion continued for the 1974-5 season with the addition of the Kansas City Scouts and the Washington Capitols.

In 1976-7 the movement of franchises restarts. The California franchise moves  to Cleveland, renamed the Barons, and the Kansas City franchise moves to Colorado under the Rockies name. In 1978-9 season the troubled Cleveland  franchise merges with the Minnesota franchise.

Confused yet, just wait. In 1979-80 the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques,  Hartford Whalers and Winnipeg Jets join the league from the now defunct WHA  league. In 1980-1 the Atlanta franchise is moved to Calgary. In 1982-3 the Colorado Rockies franchise is moved to New Jersey, renamed the Devils.  In the 1991-2 season another new franchise is added, the San Jose Sharks. For those  that have lost count the NHL consists of 22 teams at this point.

The league stays stable at this level until the following season when the  Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators are added. In the 1993-4 season The  Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Florida Panthers are added, while the Minnesota  franchise is moved to Dallas, and renamed the Stars. In 1995-6 season the Quebec franchise is transferred to Colorado, renamed the Avalanche and the following year the  Jets are moved from Winnipeg to Phoenix and renamed the Coyotes. In 1997-8 the Hartford franchise is transferred to Raleigh and renamed the Carolina Hurricane. The addition of the Nashville Predator franchise in 1998-9 brought the league to 27 teams and a major realignment of divisions took place for the  addition of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise in 1999-2000 season and the addition  of the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Bluejackets  franchises for the 2000-1 season.

So here we are at 30 teams. Some have been moved around, some have fallen by  the wayside. The list above attempts to give you links and a road map through  the sometimes confusing development of the NHL.