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History of the NHL

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport

The National Hockey League (NHL) was founded in 1917. The original teams were the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. Although, the teams that joined by 1926 are considered the ‘original six.’ The Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers were added.

The ‘original six’ era saw the six teams only playing each other and not having a lot of competition. Since there were only six teams, the future of the cup was known early on in the season. In the first 25 Stanley Cups, Montreal won ten, Toronto won nine, Detroit won five and Chicago only won one. Boston and New York didn’t win a single cup.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have the longest running streak of not playing in the finals since 1967.

The expansion era began in 1967 when six new teams were added to the league. The expansion occurred because the NFL and MLB were adding teams as well. Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, St Louis, Minnesota and San Francisco were now a part of the NHL. Even with the additions of the six teams, the ‘original six’ were still dominating. (Original Six)

According to Forbes in 2018, the NHL’s most valuable teams, “the top of the list—New York Rangers ($1.55 billion), Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.45 billion), Montreal Canadiens ($1.3 billion), Chicago Blackhawks ($1.05 billion) AND Boston Bruins ($925 million)—is dominated by the Original Six teams that are great brands with rich local television and sponsorship deals.”

The Stanley Cup was created in 1892 and has greatly changed over time. It now weighs 35 pounds and has every team and player's name engraved on the side. "There's so many good things about the game of hockey, but the greatest things about our sport are our history and our tradition and, without question, the Stanley Cup is probably the greatest trophy in all of sport," said Wayne Gretzky. In 2023, there’s now 32 teams that compete for the cup. Having 32 teams makes winning the cup all the better. It's a competitive title being able to say one is a Stanley Cup champion.

The Stanley Cup was gifted by Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston and son of the Earl of Derby. “Each year upon presentation of the trophy to the championship team, a summer of celebration begins, as each of the organization's players and staff enjoy 24 hours with the Cup - a tradition which has no rival in any sport,” (Stanley Cup History).

WAMC Northeast Public Radio

Winning the Stanley Cup is like no other sport. Each player has their name sketched into the cup showcasing it takes everyone to win, which differentiates from the trophies in the NFL and MLB. There is also only one Stanley Cup, a new one isn’t made each season. The cup is a historic piece of hockey, since it was first seen in 1892, before the NHL was even founded, it’s what every young player looks up to. The greatest goal in hockey is to hoist the cup over one’s head and share with the world that they had what it took to be the best.

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