The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America, consisting of 31 teams (24 in the United States and 7 in Canada).
The NHL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and is the premier professional ice hockey league in the world. The league is divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, with 16 teams in each conference.
The NHL’s regular season runs from October to April, with each team playing 82 games. Following the conclusion of the regular season, eight teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Stanley Cup Finals, which is usually held in June and is played between the champions of the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. The league is headquartered in New York City.
Here are a few NHL curiosities:
- The NHL was founded on November 26, 1917, as the National Hockey League.
- The first NHL game was played on December 19, 1917, between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators, with the Canadiens winning the game 7-4.
- The Montreal Canadiens have won the most Stanley Cup championships, with 24 titles. The Toronto Maple Leafs have won the second most, with 13 titles.
- The shortest player in NHL history was Roy Woters, who was just 5 feet 4 inches tall and played for the New York Americans in the 1920s. The tallest player in NHL history was Zdeno Chára, who is 6 feet 9 inches tall and currently plays for the Washington Capitals.
- The highest scoring game in NHL history was a 15-14 win by the Edmonton Oilers over the Chicago Blackhawks on December 11, 1985.
- The longest NHL game was a 6-5 win by the Detroit Red Wings over the Montreal Maroons in 1936, which lasted 176 minutes and 30 seconds (just over three hours).
- The NHL has a few unique rules, such as the “offside” rule, which states that a player cannot cross the blue line into the attacking zone before the puck does, and the “icing” rule, which states that a team cannot shoot the puck from their own half of the ice past the opposing team’s goal line.
- The NHL has a few traditions, such as the playing of the national anthem before every game, the awarding of the Conn Smythe Trophy to the playoff MVP, and the presentation of the Stanley Cup to the winning team in the Stanley Cup Finals.
- The NHL has a few notable rivalries, such as the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have played each other more times than any other teams in NHL history, and the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, who have a longstanding rivalry dating back to the 1920s.
- The NHL has a few notable records, such as the most goals scored in a single season by Wayne Gretzky, who scored 92 goals for the Edmonton Oilers in the 1981-82 season. The record for most points scored in a single season is also held by Wayne Gretzky, who had 215 points for the Oilers in the 1985-86 season.
- The NHL has a few international players who have made a significant impact on the league, such as Alexander Ovechkin of Russia, who has won the Hart Trophy (awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player) three times, and Jaromír Jágr of the Czech Republic, who is the leading scorer among active players and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- The NHL has a few unique venues, such as the Bell Centre in Montreal, which is home to the Canadiens, and the United Center in Chicago, which is home to the Blackhawks.
- The NHL has a few notable players who have made a significant impact on the league, such as Wayne Gretzky, who is widely considered one of the greatest players in NHL history and won four Stanley Cup championships, and Bobby Orr, who is also considered one of the greatest players in NHL history and won two Stanley Cup championships.
- The NHL has a few notable coaches who have made a significant impact on the league, such as Scotty Bowman, who has won nine Stanley Cup championships as a coach, and Joel Quenneville, who has won three Stanley Cup championships as the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.
- The NHL has a few notable owners who have made a significant impact on the league, such as Jeremy Jacobs, who owns the Boston Bruins, and Ted Leonsis, who owns the Washington Capitals.