Did you know that on May 2, 1967 the National Hockey League, hereafter referred to as the NHL was comprised of only six teams? The New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, and the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadians.
When the Maple Leafs beat the Canadians in six games to capture the Stanley Cup on May 2, 1967 – it represented the end of Original Six era, as expansion would double the size of the NHL to start the 1967-68 campaign.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS, ST. LOUIS BLUES, AND LOS ANGELES KINGS
The Flyers, Blues, Penguins, and Kings played their initial season in 1967-68 as part of the expansion which doubled the size of the NHL. All four of these teams have remained in their original cities, and their names have not changed since their inception.
Even though the team has played in Dallas since the start of the 1993-94 seasons, their history is extremely complicated.
The Dallas Stars started out as the Minnesota North Stars. They were one of the six teams in the 1967-68 expansion draft, as were the Oakland Seals.
So why am I mentioning the Oakland Seals? The Oakland Seals moved to Cleveland and were renamed the Cleveland Barons to open up the 1976-77 season, but after two seasons in Cleveland the team folded.
At the same time, the North Stars were also struggling. In an unprecedented move, the NHL merged the now-defunct Cleveland Barons with the then-Minnesota North Stars – retaining the Minnesota North Stars name and location until the end of the 1992-93. Any further discussion of the arrangement is well beyond the scope of this article.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS AND BUFFALO SABRES
These teams are expansion franchises which began in 1970-71, and have remained in their original cities with their names unchanged since their inception.
The Calgary Flames originated as the Atlanta Flames as an expansion franchise which began in 1972-73. The Flames played in Atlanta for eight seasons before “flaming out.” They subsequently moved to Calgary to open up the 1980-81 campaign.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
The Islanders are an expansion franchise which began in 1972-73. Even though they are moving to the Barclay’s Center for the start of the 2015-16 NHL campaign, they have remained in the New York area with their name unchanged since their inception.
The Capitals are an expansion franchise which began in 1974-75. In an era where a game was considered a tie after regulation, they finished with a record of 8-67-5 for a total of 21 points – a record-low point total for an entire season.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
The Devils started out as an expansion franchise named the Kansas City Scouts to start the 1974-75. The Scouts played three seasons in Kansas City, and then moved to Denver and were renamed the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies played five seasons in Denver, and were renamed the Devils upon their move to New Jersey to open up the 1982-83 season.
THE WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION (WHA) MERGER
The NHL agreed to take four teams from the now-defunct WHA for the start of the 1979-80 season. The WHA was a rival hockey league to the NHL which lasted from 1971 until 1979. The WHA caused problems for the NHL because it was able to attract many players that would have otherwise have played in the NHL.
The four teams that entered the league are as follows:
The Edmonton Oilers are the only one of these teams to remain in their original location.
The Colorado Avalanche entered the league as the Quebec Nordiques. The Nordiques last season in Quebec was 1994-95. They moved to Denver and were renamed the Colorado Avalanche to start the 1995-96 season.
The Arizona Coyotes entered the league as the Winnipeg Jets. This team is not to be confused with the Winnipeg Jets team that is playing currently in the NHL. The then-Jets played their last season in Winnipeg in 1998-99. They moved to Phoenix and were renamed the Phoenix Coyotes to start the 1999-2000 season.
The origin of the current Winnipeg Jets starts at the beginning of the 1997-98 seasons when the NHL awarded a second expansion franchise to Atlanta to start the 1997-98 season. The team was given the name of the Thrashers. The Thrashers ended their tenure in Atlanta upon the conclusion of the 2010-11 season, relocating to Winnipeg the following year (2011-12).
The Carolina Hurricanes entered the league as the Hartford Whalers. The Whalers played in Hartford until the end of the 1996-97. They moved to North Carolina and were renamed the Carolina Hurricanes to start the 1997-98 season.
The other teams that were not mentioned all entered the league as expansion teams starting with the 1991-92 season – bringing the total number of teams currently to thirty, quintupling the size of the league in almost 50 years.