When Did the NHL Begin?

A look at the history of the NHL and how it has evolved over the years into the sport we know and love today.


The NHL (National Hockey League) is a professional ice hockey league founded in 1917. It is composed of 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The first game was played on December 19, 1917, between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators.

The NHL began as an expansion of the National Hockey Association (NHA), which was founded in 1909. The NHA was formed to protect the interests of the owners of the Montreal Canadiens, the Quebec Bulldogs, and the Ottawa Senators. These teams were all members of the Canadian Amateur Hockey League (CAHL). In 1915, the NHA took in two more teams, the Toronto Shamrocks and the Montreal Wanderers.

In 1917, when the NHA suspended operations due to financial difficulties, a new league was formed: The National Hockey League. The NHL’s first president was Frank Calder, who is also credited with founding the Stanley Cup playoffs. The NHL started with 5 teams: The Canadiens, Senators, Wanderers, Shamrocks, and Toronto’s new team, the Arenas.

The Beginnings of Professional Ice Hockey

The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and seven in Canada. Headquartered in New York City, the NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada.

The National Hockey League

The National Hockey League (NHL) was established in 1917 with five original teams: the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, and Toronto Arenas. Of these five teams, only the Canadiens and Senators are still in existence today.

In 1926, the NHL expanded to include the New York Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates. The league then reached its current size of 30 teams in 1998 with the addition of the Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, and Columbus Blue Jackets.

The NHL is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues of North America.

The World Hockey Association

In 1972, the World Hockey Association was formed in direct response to the perceived monopoly the NHL had on professional hockey in North America. The WHA began play with 12 teams, including several in NHL cities like Detroit, Chicago, and New York. The WHA offered players higher salaries than the NHL, as well as the opportunity to play a more wide-open style of hockey. As a result, many of the NHL’s top players jumped to the new league, including stars like Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe.

The WHA lasted for seven seasons before merging with the NHL in 1979. As part of the merger agreement, four WHA teams (the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers, and Winnipeg Jets) were absorbed into the NHL. These days, all but one of the former WHA teams (the Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche) are still playing in their original cities.

The Merger of the NHL and the WHA

The National Hockey League began in 1917 with five teams, all based in Canadian cities. In 1926, the NHL merged with the Western Hockey Association, adding seven more teams. The NHL continued to expand, adding more teams and creating divisions, until it reached 30 teams in the 2000s.

The NHL Grows

In the late 60s, the National Hockey League began to expand, adding six new teams. At the same time, a rival league called the World Hockey Association was formed and began to poach players from the NHL. In order to prevent the WHA from taking all of its talent, the NHL merged with the WHA in 1979, adding four of its teams to the league.


The National Hockey League, or NHL, is the highest level of professional ice hockey in the world. The league was founded in 1917, making it one of the oldest professional sports leagues in North America. The NHL is made up of 30 teams: 23 in the United States and 7 in Canada.

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