About NHL

The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams—25 in the United States and 7 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 North American major professional sports leagues. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the playoff champion at the end of each season. The National Hockey League was organized on November 26, 1917, at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909. The NHL immediately took the NHA's place as one of the leagues that contested for the Stanley Cup in an annual interleague competition before a series of franchise mergers and folds left the NHL as the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup in 1926.

At its inception, the NHL had four teams—all in Canada, thus accounting for its original nickname of "the Canadian League"—the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, and Toronto Arenas. The league expanded to the United States in 1924 with the addition of the Boston Bruins, and by 1926 consisted of ten teams with two in Canada and eight in the United States. With Canadian hockey players accounting for the vast majority of players in the league at this time, it was easier for American teams to recruit talent from a northern neighbor than try to build rosters from scratch. This necessitated a series of annual interleague competitions for the Stanley Cup between NHL teams and their cross-border rivals in the Western Hockey League (WHL) from 1920 until 1926. 

In order to sustain interest in professional hockey in the United States, especially after the demise of the WHL, the NHL began expanding American teams beginning with the addition of the Detroit Cougars in 1926. The league reached its current size of 30 teams with the addition of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild in 2000. The NHL is planning to add a 31st team in Seattle for the 2021–22 season. The Quebec Nordiques were the most recent Canadian-based team to compete in the Stanley Cup Finals, doing so in 1993. They were the first non-Original Six team to do so since the 1967 expansion. Five other Canadian teams have appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals: the Montreal Canadiens (who have won the Stanley Cup a record 24 times), Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks.

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