NHL Original Six, explained: History behind the teams that started the professional hockey league


The NHL is one of the oldest North American professional sports leagues. The organization is over 100 years old, dating back further than the NBA and the NFL.

With that extensive timeline comes plenty of history, and one of the most historic aspects of the NHL is the Original Six.

Not only is the NHL over a century old, but we are quickly approaching the century mark for four of the Original Six teams. The Canadiens and Maple Leafs have already celebrated the feat, but the Bruins have begun planning for their 100-year anniversary, which will come during the 2023-24 season.

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The Sporting News has you covered on the details and history behind the NHL’s Original Six.

What teams were in the Original Six?

As it says in the name, there are six teams that make up the Original Six: the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Blackhawks, the New York Rangers and the Detroit Red Wings.

Contrary to the name, not all six joined the league at the same time. The Canadiens were formed in 1909 and became a part of the NHL in 1917. The Maple Leafs also joined the league in 1917. They are the two charter members of the NHL.

The Bruins were formed in 1924 and the Red Wings, Blackhawks and Rangers followed suit in 1926.

When did the Original Six end?

After the league only consisted of those six teams for over 30 years, the NHL elected to expand the number of clubs in 1967.

There were six more franchises created, doubling the total number of participants to 12. Those clubs were the Minnesota North Stars, St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, California Seals, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Only the Blues, Flyers, Kings and Penguins remain as active franchises in the league.

What is the NHL’s oldest team?

The Canadiens are the oldest franchise in the NHL. Formed in 1909, the club is also the longest-operating professional hockey team in the world.

Before joining the NHL, Montreal was a part of the National Hockey Association, which was made up of teams from Ontario and Quebec.

It is the direct predecessor of the NHL.

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