The first recorded ice hockey game was played at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal on March 3, 1875. The game was advertised in the Montreal Gazette and a description stated that the game would be played "with a flat, circular piece of wood."
In the mid-1870s, a group of students from McGill University in Montreal began to play a new sport dubbed ice hockey. Although J. G. A. Creighton is credited with bringing the game from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to McGill, three other students-W. L. Murray, W E Robertson, and R. E Smith-are recognized as the men who established a set of rules. Basing their preliminary guidelines for hockey play on English rugby and field hockey, they formulated a set of rules that could be transposed to the ice surface.
These guidelines proved to be a great aid when it came to organizing the McGill University Hockey Club, which is believed to have been the first organized hockey team in Canada. Soon, a league was formed in Kingston, Ontario, featuring four teams from that city playing a schedule of games during the winter of 1885-86. By 1890, many of the leagues that had formed over the ensuing years merged to become the first Ontario Hockey Association.
It wasn't long before interest in the game spread to Europe and the United States. Canadians studying at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, organized club teams and the first Cambridge-Oxford ice hockey match was played at St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1885. Each year since then, except for the war years, these two storied colleges have met for a "friendly," the British term for an exhibition match.
Stateside, the game flourished as well. By the turn of the century, artificial ice rinks were being built in the United States, many Ivy League colleges and universities were playing the game, and they were becoming quite adept at it. In 1904, the first pro loop was established in the iron ore belt of Northern Michigan, and the Yankees were off and running. The driving force behind the evolution of hockey, first in Canada and then elsewhere, was the competition for the Stanley Cup.
The National Hockey League presents numerous trophies per year. The most prestigious team award is the Stanley Cup, which is awarded to the league champion at the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The team that has the most points in the regular season is awarded the Presidents' Trophy. There are also numerous trophies that are awarded to players based on their statistics during the regular season.
The O'Brien Trophy was a National Hockey League trophy, retired following the 1949-50 NHL season. It was named after Canadian senator J. O'Brien for his son, John Ambrose O'Brien, who was credited with the formation of the National Hockey Association, the forerunner to the NHL. Donated by Senator O'Brien to the NHA in 1910, it represented the trophy of the NHA championship, and later, the NHL championship. The winner of this trophy would move on to face the winners of other leagues for the Stanley Cup. From 1924 to 1927, the O'Brien Trophy was retired in favour of the Prince of Wales Trophy, but was reintroduced in the 1927-28 NHL season as the equivalent to the Prince of Wales Trophy for the Canadian Division. The 1938-39 NHL season saw the NHL move back to a single division, and from that point to its second and final retirement after the 1949-50 season it was awarded to the Stanley Cup runner-up.
Beginning with the 1993-94 season, the club which advances to the Stanley Cup Finals as the winner of the Eastern Conference Championship is presented with the Prince of Wales Trophy. His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, donated the trophy to the National Hockey League in 1924. From 1927-28 through 1937-38, the award was presented to the team finishing first in the American Division of the NHL. (The team finishing first in the Canadian Division received the O'Brien Trophy during these years.) From 1938-39, when the NHL reverted to one section, to 1966-67, it was presented to the team winning the NHL regular-season championship. With expansion in 1967-68, it again became a divisional trophy, awarded to the regular-season champions of the East Division through to the end of the 1973-74 season. Beginning in 1974-75, it was awarded to the regular-season winner of the conference bearing the name of the trophy. From 1981-82 to 1992-93 the trophy was presented to the playoff champion in the Wales Conference. Since 1993-94, the trophy has been presented to the playoff champion in the Eastern Conference.
Beginning with the 1993-94 season, the club which advances to the Stanley Cup Finals as the winner of the Western Conference Championship is presented with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl. Presented by the member clubs in 1968 for perpetual competition by the National Hockey League in recognition of the services of Clarence S. Campbell, President of the NHL from 1946 to 1977. From 1967-68 through 1973-74, the trophy was awarded to the regular-season champions of the West Division. Beginning in 1974-75, it was awarded to the regular-season winner of the conference bearing the name of the trophy. From 1981-82 to 1992-93 the trophy was presented to the playoff champion in the Campbell Conference. Since 1993-94, the trophy has been presented to the playoff champion in the Western Conference. The trophy itself is a hallmark piece made of sterling silver and was crafted by a British silversmith in 1878.
The Presidents' Trophy is an award presented by the National Hockey League (NHL) to the team which finishes with the best record in the league during the regular season. The trophy was introduced at the start of the 1985-86 NHL season by the league's Board of Governors. Prior to 1986, the best team in the league during the regular season was allowed to hang a banner stating "NHL League Champions", even though all Stanley Cup winners since 1947 were technically the NHL champions. The winning team is also awarded 350,000 Canadian dollars, to be shared between the team and its players. In the Original Six era, the same criterion now observed for winning the Presidents' Trophy was used to award the Prince of Wales Trophy. From 1967-68 through 1980-81, separate trophies were presented to the top regular-season finishers in each division (conference from the 1974-75 season onward) - the Prince of Wales Trophy for the first-place team in the Eastern Division (Wales Conference after 1974) and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl for the corresponding team in the Western Division (Campbell Conference after 1974). However, no trophy was awarded to the team that finished with the best overall record in the entire league during this period, and no trophy at all was awarded based on the results of the regular season from the 1981-82 season through the 1984-85 season; the Wales and Campbell trophies were transferred to the playoff champions of those conferences in 1981-82. A cash bonus was given to each player on the team with the league's best regular-season record during these years, to which the Presidents' Trophy was added in 1985-86.
Actually when the NHL formed in 1917 it consisted of 5 teams, namely the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs and the Toronto Arenas, which was the only team with artificial ice. The Quebec franchise did not operate in the 1918 season. In 1918 the Montreal Arena was destroyed by fire and as a result the Montreal Wanderers withdrew from the league, reducing its membership to three teams. Also in 1918 the Quebec franchise was sold to P. Quinn of Toronto, but the franchise had to play in Quebec. It did not participate in the 1918-19 season. For the 1919-20 season the Quebec Bulldogs franchise was reactivated. Toronto Arenas changed their name to Toronto St. Patricks. In 1920-21 the first of many NHL franchises was transferred, from Quebec to Hamilton Ontario. During the 1923-4 season a franchise was granted to the first American team, the Boston Bruins, and also a second Montreal team called the Maroons. As can be seen the first six team NHL occurred in 1924-5 but varied greatly from the six teams promoted today as the original six.
For the 1925-6 season the Hamilton Tigers franchise was dropped, with the players being signed by the new New York American franchise. Also during the 1925-6 season a franchisewas granted for Pittsburgh for the following year. Also in May 1926 the New York Rangers franchise was granted, and in September the Chicago Blawkhawks and the Detroit Cougars were granted franchises. Finally the league known as the original six is starting to take shape. Also for the 1926-7 season Toronto St. Patrick's changed their name to the Toronto Maple Leafs after being sold to Hugh Aird and Conn Smythe.
For the 1930-1 season Detroit changed their name to the Detroit Falcons, the Pittsburgh franchise was transferred to Philadelphia being called the Philadelphia Quakers. For the 1931-2 season, Philadelphia dropped out and the Ottawa Senators withdrew for the season, resuming play the following year. During the 1932-3 season the Detroit franchise revises its name again this time to the Detroit Redwings. For the 1934-5 season Ottawa franchise moves to St. Louis named the St. Louis Eagles. This franchise folds the following year. On March 17, 1938 the Montreal Maroons played their final game. In 1941-2 the New York Americans change their name to the Brooklyn Americans, but end up withdrawing for the 1942-3 season.
And finally we are there. It took 26 years, after the NHL was founded, but the "original six" teams were now in place. This group of teams played, as the NHL until expansion in the 1967-68 season. This expansion doubled the league size to 12 teams with the addition of the Minnesota North Stars, California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penquins, and the St. Louis Blues.
Before their first season is over the California Seals became the Oakland Seals, finally ending up the California Golden Seals in 1970. (no name change helped the franchises) Based on this expansion is where the name the "original six" originated, not from the formation of the NHL. The original six teams played in their own division until the 1970-1 season, when the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks joined the league.
In 1972-3 two additional teams were added, the Atlanta Flames and the New York Islanders. Expansion continued for the 1974-5 season with the addition of the Kansas City Scouts and the Washington Capitols. In 1976-7 the movement of franchises restarts. The California franchise moves to Cleveland, renamed the Barons, and the Kansas City franchise moves to Colorado under the Rockies name. In 1978-9 season the troubled Cleveland franchise merges with the Minnesota franchise.
Confused yet, just wait. In 1979-80 the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers and Winnipeg Jets join the league from the now defunct WHA league. In 1980-1 the Atlanta franchise is moved to Calgary. In 1982-3 the Colorado Rockies franchise is moved to New Jersey, renamed the Devils. In the 1991-2 season another new franchise is added, the San Jose Sharks. For those that have lost count the NHL consists of 22 teams at this point.
The league stays stable at this level until the following season when the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators are added. In the 1993-4 season The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Florida Panthers are added, while the Minnesota franchise is moved to Dallas, and renamed the Stars. In 1995-6 season the Quebec franchise is transferred to Colorado, renamed the Avalanche and the following year the Jets are moved from Winnipeg to Phoenix and renamed the Coyotes. In 1997-8 the Hartford franchise is transferred to Raleigh and renamed the Carolina Hurricane.
The addition of the Nashville Predator franchise in 1998-9 brought the league to 27 teams and a major realignment of divisions took place for the addition of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise in 1999-2000 season and the addition of the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Bluejackets franchises for the 2000-1 season. 30 teams, some have been moved around, and some have fallen by the wayside.
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