NHL (Ice Hockey)
The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league composed of 30 member clubs: 23 in the United States and 7 in Canada. With its headquarters in New York City, the NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is the key recognition of complete success in ice hockey. The Cup is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season. The team that has the most points in the regular season is awarded the Presidents' Trophy.
The National Hockey League was organized on November 26, 1917, in Montreal, Quebec and has been the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup since 1926. The NHL started with four teams (all based in Canada) and, through a series of expansions, contractions and relocations, is now composed of 30 active franchises. “National” in the league's name does is in fact mean Canada, although the league has been binational since 1924 when its first team in the United States, the Boston Bruins, began playing in it. The National Hockey League season is divided into a regular season (from early October through early to mid-April) and a postseason (the Stanley Cup playoffs).
The league draws many highly skilled players from all over the world and currently has players from approximately 20 different countries. Canadians have historically constituted the majority of the players in the league, with an increasing percentage of American and European players in recent seasons.
The NHL divides the 30 teams into two conferences: the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each conference is split into two divisions: the Eastern Conference contains 16 teams (eight per division), while the Western Conference has 14 teams (seven per division). The current alignment has existed since the 2013–14 season.
The number of NHL teams remained at 30 teams since the 2000–01 season when the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets joined the league as expansion teams. That expansion capped a period in the 1990s of rapid expansion and relocation when the NHL added 9 teams to grow from 21 to 30 teams, and relocated four teams mostly from smaller northern cities (e.g., Hartford, Quebec) to larger warmer metropolitan areas (e.g., Dallas, Phoenix). The league has not contracted any teams since the Cleveland Barons folded in 1978.
The most successful team in ice hockey history is undoubtedly the Montreal Canadiens with 24 Stanley Cup victories and hold the longest winning streak in Cup victories of five years (1956-60). However their successes have not been repeated since 1993.
Second in the all-time list comes another Canadian team, the Toronto Maple Leafs with 13 Cups – the last being as far back as 1967. The most successful US based franchise are the Detroit Red Wings with 11 Stanley Cup wins to their name.
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