The National Hockey League (NHL) is not only the premier professional ice hockey league in the United States of America and Canada, but the entire world. Players from all over Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet republics all eventually dream of playing on the NHL stage. In Canada, the NHL is easily considered to be the most dominantly covered and discussed league, while in the United States, it sits squarely among the country’s “big four” professional sports leagues (along with the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball).
Currently, the NHL comprises 31 teams, 24 of which are based in the United States, and the remaining seven in Canada. However, when the league was first formed, there were only four teams, all of which were located in Canada. That’s why the league is still referred to as “National,” even though it has now become an international league. The league expanded to the United States in 1924, with the inclusion of the Boston Bruins franchise. In 1967, the league added another six teams, to join the six team-league that had been playing since 1942. After that time, the league has continued to grow, increasing the number of teams in the league to 18 teams in 1974, and then adding another three teams in 1979 to bring the total to 21 teams. During the 1990’s, the league’s popularity (and revenue) exploded, thanks in large part to the influx of superstar players like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux (along with the spotlight they brought to the league). In that years following said following decade, the league grew to the 31 teams that now know it as today.
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NHL Competition and Final Events
The Stanley Cup is presented each year to the winner of the Stanley Cup championship match, which comprises a best-of-seven series. The cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, who was famously known as one of the original hockey enthusiasts. Due to his position as the Governor General of Canada, as appointed by Queen Victoria late in the 19th century, his name was affixed to the trophy.
The NHL’s Montreal Canadiens who have won the most championships – and, subsequently, the trophy — the most times, with 24 Stanley Cup championships. Among teams in the United States, the Detroit Red Wings have won it 11 times.
Biggest News to Date
As the 2017-2018 Stanley Cup playoffs begin to wrap up the first round, four teams have emerged as the favorites to hoist the Cup as league champions this year: the Nashville Predators (currently at 4/1 odds), the Tampa Bay Lightning (5/1 odds), the Pittsburg Penguins (5/1 odds), and the Winnipeg Jets (8/1 odds). Each of those teams were among the very best the league had to offer, and given the way the playoffs have unfolded to date, it looks certain that the Lightning and Penguins will meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, along with the Predators and Jets meeting in the Western Conference Finals, to determine who will play in the Stanley Cup Finals.