History of organizational changes in the NHL

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Since being founded in 1917, the National Hockey League (NHL), which in its first two seasons started out as a three-team league and eventually grew to thirty-one in its current state, has expanded and contracted numerous times throughout its history. The following is a complete history of organizational changes in the NHL.

Contents

Early years[edit]

Four/three teams (1917–19)[edit]

The four teams that began the inaugural NHL season were the Montreal Canadiens, the Montreal Wanderers, the original Ottawa Senators, and the Toronto Arenas. However, after completing four games, the Wanderers withdrew from the league due to their arena burning down, and the NHL continued this season and the next with only three teams.

Withdrew after four games into the 1917–18 season §
1917–18 to 1918–19 NHL teams
Montreal Canadiens 0 Montreal Wanderers § 0 Ottawa Senators 0 Toronto Arenas

Four teams (1919–24)[edit]

In its third season, 1919–20, the NHL underwent its first expansion, adding the Quebec Bulldogs. Toronto changed its name to Toronto St. Patricks.

First season in the NHL *
1919–20 NHL teams
Montreal Canadiens 0 Ottawa Senators 0 Quebec Bulldogs * 0 Toronto St. Patricks

1920: Quebec relocates to Hamilton[edit]

For the 1920–21 season, Quebec relocated to Hamilton, becoming the Hamilton Tigers. These same four teams continued to play up to 1923–24.

1920–21 to 1923–24 NHL teams
Hamilton Tigers 0 Montreal Canadiens 0 Ottawa Senators 0 Toronto St. Patricks

Six teams (1924–25)[edit]

Two new teams joined the NHL in its eighth season, the Boston Bruins, and the Montreal Maroons.

First season in the NHL * Last season in the NHL †
1924–25 NHL teams
Boston Bruins * 0 Montreal Canadiens 0 Ottawa Senators
Hamilton Tigers 0 Montreal Maroons * 0 Toronto St. Patricks

Seven teams (1925–26)[edit]

The next season, the NHL added two new teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Americans. The Americans were stocked by purchasing the contracts of the Hamilton Tigers players, and the Tigers franchise was subsequently revoked by the league.

First season in the NHL *
1925–26 NHL teams
Boston Bruins 0 Montreal Maroons 0 Pittsburgh Pirates * 0 Toronto St. Patricks
Montreal Canadiens 0 New York Americans * 0 Ottawa Senators 0  

Ten teams (1926–31)[edit]

The NHL continued to expand the following 1926–27 season, adding the Chicago Black Hawks, the Detroit Cougars, and the New York Rangers, growing to ten teams, thus more than doubling its size in its first decade of existence. The league realigned into two divisions: the American Division and the Canadian Division. Despite its name, the Canadian Division contained at least one team based in the U.S. throughout its existence.

Midway through the 1926–27 season, the Toronto St. Patricks were sold and renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the NHL ruled that the team had to still officially use the St. Patricks name until the end of that season.

1926–27 was the first season in the NHL *
1926–27 to 1929–30 NHL teams
Canadian Division American Division
Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins
Montreal Maroons Chicago Black Hawks *
New York Americans Detroit Cougars *
Ottawa Senators New York Rangers *
Toronto St. Patricks/Maple Leafs Pittsburgh Pirates

1930: Pittsburgh relocates to Philadelphia[edit]

For the 1930–31 season, the Pirates moved from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, becoming the Philadelphia Quakers, and Detroit was renamed the Detroit Falcons.

Last season before hiatus, rejoined NHL later ^ Last season in the NHL †
1930–31 NHL teams
Canadian Division American Division
Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins
Montreal Maroons Chicago Black Hawks
New York Americans Detroit Falcons
Ottawa Senators ^ New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs Philadelphia Quakers

Eight teams (1931–32)[edit]

After fourteen seasons of steady expansion, the NHL contracted to eight teams, dropping the Philadelphia Quakers and the original Ottawa Senators for the 1931–32 season.

1931–32 NHL teams
Canadian Division American Division
Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins
Montreal Maroons Chicago Black Hawks
New York Americans Detroit Falcons
Toronto Maple Leafs New York Rangers

Nine teams (1932–35)[edit]

For the 1932–33 season, after missing one season, the original Ottawa Senators rejoined the NHL, and the Detroit Falcons were renamed the Detroit Red Wings.

Rejoined NHL *
1932–33 to 1933–34 NHL teams
Canadian Division American Division
Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins
Montreal Maroons Chicago Black Hawks
New York Americans Detroit Red Wings
Ottawa Senators * New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs  

1934: Ottawa relocates to St. Louis[edit]

For the 1934–35 season, the Ottawa Senators relocated, becoming the St. Louis Eagles.

Last season in the NHL †
1934–35 NHL teams
Canadian Division American Division
Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins
Montreal Maroons Chicago Black Hawks
New York Americans Detroit Red Wings
St. Louis Eagles New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs  

Eight teams (1935–38)[edit]

The Eagles folded after one season, and the NHL was once again an eight-team league for three seasons.

Withdrew after the 1937–38 season †
1935–36 to 1937–38 NHL teams
Canadian Division American Division
Montreal Canadiens Boston Bruins
Montreal Maroons Chicago Black Hawks
New York Americans Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs New York Rangers

Seven teams (1938–42)[edit]

The Montreal Maroons withdrew from the league for the 1938–39 season, further reducing the number of teams in the NHL to seven, shrinking to the size the league was in 1925–26. Play continued for four seasons with seven teams, with one single league table instead of any conference or divisions.

1938–39 to 1941–42 NHL teams
Boston Bruins 0 Detroit Red Wings 0 New York Rangers 0 Toronto Maple Leafs
Chicago Black Hawks 0 Montreal Canadiens 0 New York Americans 0  

1941: The Americans change their name[edit]

The New York Americans changed their name to the Brooklyn Americans for the 1941–42 season, their last.

Folded after the 1941–42 season †
1938–39 to 1941–42 NHL teams
Boston Bruins 0 Chicago Black Hawks 0 Montreal Canadiens 0 Toronto Maple Leafs
Brooklyn Americans 0 Detroit Red Wings 0 New York Rangers 0  

Original Six (1942–67)[edit]

The 1942–43 season saw the folding of the Brooklyn Americans, thus ushering in the Original Six era of the NHL, which lasted without any organizational changes for twenty-five seasons.

Original Six: 1942–43 to 1966–67 NHL teams
Boston Bruins 0 Detroit Red Wings 0 New York Rangers
Chicago Black Hawks 0 Montreal Canadiens 0 Toronto Maple Leafs

Expansion years (1967–91)[edit]

Twelve teams (1967–70)[edit]

The 1967 expansion doubled the number of teams in the league, with an upfront expansion fee of $2 million each ($15 million today).[1] For the 1967–68 season, six new teams were added to the NHL: the California Seals, the Los Angeles Kings, the Minnesota North Stars, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the St. Louis Blues.

Within a month into their first season, the California Seals were renamed the Oakland Seals.

All Original Six teams were placed in the East Division
All 1967 expansion teams were placed in the West Division
1967–68 to 1969–70 NHL teams
East Division West Division
Boston Bruins Los Angeles Kings
Chicago Black Hawks Minnesota North Stars
Detroit Red Wings Oakland Seals
Montreal Canadiens Philadelphia Flyers
New York Rangers Pittsburgh Penguins
Toronto Maple Leafs St. Louis Blues

Fourteen teams (1970–72)[edit]

The Oakland Seals were renamed the Bay Area Seals for two games before changing their name again to the California Golden Seals for their fourth season in 1970–71. The same season the NHL added two new teams, the Buffalo Sabres and the Vancouver Canucks, paying an expansion fee of $6 million each ($38.7 million today).[1] The Sabres and the Canucks were placed in the East (partially as an effort to provide greater balance between the divisions, and also so they would have rivalries with the other two Canadian teams), while the Chicago Black Hawks moved to the West

1970–71 was the first season in the NHL *
1970–71 to 1971–72 NHL teams
East Division West Division
Boston Bruins California Golden Seals
Buffalo Sabres * Chicago Black Hawks
Detroit Red Wings Los Angeles Kings
Montreal Canadiens Minnesota North Stars
New York Rangers Philadelphia Flyers
Toronto Maple Leafs Pittsburgh Penguins
Vancouver Canucks * St. Louis Blues

Sixteen teams (1972–74)[edit]

Two more teams joined for the 1972–73 NHL season, the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Flames. With the competing World Hockey Association (WHA) starting that same season, the NHL was not able to raise its expansion fee from the price of two years earlier, $6 million ($35.9 million today), with the Islanders paying an additional $5 million ($29.9 million today) to the New York Rangers for infringing on their territory.[2] The Islanders were placed in the East and the Flames were placed in the West.

1972–73 was the first season in the NHL *
1972–73 to 1973–74 NHL teams
East Division West Division
Boston Bruins Atlanta Flames *
Buffalo Sabres California Golden Seals
Detroit Red Wings Chicago Black Hawks
Montreal Canadiens Los Angeles Kings
New York Islanders * Minnesota North Stars
New York Rangers Philadelphia Flyers
Toronto Maple Leafs Pittsburgh Penguins
Vancouver Canucks St. Louis Blues

Eighteen teams (1974–78)[edit]

Two more teams joined for the 1974–75 NHL season, the Washington Capitals and the Kansas City Scouts, but the ongoing competition from the WHA meant that the overall revenue stream of the NHL had not improved, so the league kept the expansion fee for new owners at the $6 million ($30.5 million today) of two years and four years earlier.[2] The earnings situation for the new franchises was so poor that (at least) the Capitals were able to negotiate a reduction to a total fee of $2.85 million ($14.5 million today).[2]

With 18 teams, the league realigned into four divisions and two conferences. The teams were mixed up regardless of North American geography, and thus the new conferences and divisions were not named after geographical references. The East Division became the Prince of Wales Conference and consisted of the Adams Division and Norris Division. The West Division became the Clarence Campbell Conference and consisted of the Patrick Division and Smythe Division.

1974–75 was the first season in the NHL *
1974–75 to 1975–76 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Norris Patrick Smythe
Boston Bruins Detroit Red Wings Atlanta Flames Chicago Black Hawks
Buffalo Sabres Los Angeles Kings New York Islanders Kansas City Scouts *
California Golden Seals Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers Minnesota North Stars
Toronto Maple Leafs Pittsburgh Penguins Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues
  Washington Capitals *   Vancouver Canucks

1976: Two teams relocate[edit]

Going into the 1976–77 NHL season, the California Golden Seals relocated and became the Cleveland Barons, and the Kansas City Scouts moved as well, becoming the Colorado Rockies.

Dissolved after the 1977–78 season †
1976–77 to 1977–78 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Norris Patrick Smythe
Boston Bruins Detroit Red Wings Atlanta Flames Chicago Black Hawks
Buffalo Sabres Los Angeles Kings New York Islanders Colorado Rockies
Cleveland Barons Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers Minnesota North Stars
Toronto Maple Leafs Pittsburgh Penguins Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues
  Washington Capitals   Vancouver Canucks

Seventeen teams (1978–79)[edit]

For the first time since the 1942–43 season the NHL contracted, merging the Cleveland Barons into the Minnesota North Stars. The North Stars then took the Barons' place in the Adams Division.

1978–79 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Norris Patrick Smythe
Boston Bruins Detroit Red Wings Atlanta Flames Chicago Black Hawks
Buffalo Sabres Los Angeles Kings New York Islanders Colorado Rockies
Minnesota North Stars Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs Pittsburgh Penguins Philadelphia Flyers Vancouver Canucks
  Washington Capitals  

Twenty-one teams (1979–91)[edit]

Following seven seasons of revenue draining competition, the NHL–WHA merger was completed for the start of the 1979–80 NHL season. Four teams came over from the WHA, paying an expansion fee of $7.5 million each ($25.9 million today).[1] These new NHL teams were the Edmonton Oilers, the Hartford Whalers, the Quebec Nordiques, and the (original) Winnipeg Jets. This also doubled the number of Canadian teams in the league. Standing at 21 teams for twelve seasons, this was one of the longer stable periods of NHL history, though surpassed by the twenty-five seasons of the Original Six period, when no additions, moves nor name changes occurred.

The Nordiques were placed in the Adams Division, the Whalers in the Norris, and the Oilers and the Jets were both placed in the Smythe. The Washington Capitals moved from the Norris to the Patrick Division.

Teams from the WHA *
1979–80 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Norris Patrick Smythe
Boston Bruins Detroit Red Wings Atlanta Flames Chicago Black Hawks
Buffalo Sabres Hartford Whalers * New York Islanders Colorado Rockies
Minnesota North Stars Los Angeles Kings New York Rangers Edmonton Oilers *
Quebec Nordiques * Montreal Canadiens Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs Pittsburgh Penguins Washington Capitals Vancouver Canucks
  Winnipeg Jets *

1980: Flames relocate to Calgary[edit]

For the 1980–81 season, Atlanta relocated and became the Calgary Flames.

1980–81 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Norris Patrick Smythe
Boston Bruins Detroit Red Wings Calgary Flames Chicago Black Hawks
Buffalo Sabres Hartford Whalers New York Islanders Colorado Rockies
Minnesota North Stars Los Angeles Kings New York Rangers Edmonton Oilers
Quebec Nordiques Montreal Canadiens Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs Pittsburgh Penguins Washington Capitals Vancouver Canucks
  Winnipeg Jets

1981 realignment[edit]

For the 1981–82 season, the teams were realigned to reduce travel. Also, the Norris Division moved to the Campbell Conference and the Patrick Division moved to the Wales Conference.

1981–82 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Patrick Norris Smythe
Boston Bruins New York Islanders Chicago Black Hawks Calgary Flames
Buffalo Sabres New York Rangers Detroit Red Wings Colorado Rockies
Hartford Whalers Philadelphia Flyers Minnesota North Stars Edmonton Oilers
Montreal Canadiens Pittsburgh Penguins St. Louis Blues Los Angeles Kings
Quebec Nordiques Washington Capitals Toronto Maple Leafs Vancouver Canucks
  Winnipeg Jets  

1982: Colorado relocates to New Jersey[edit]

For the 1982–83 season, the Colorado Rockies moved, becoming the New Jersey Devils. The team was moved to the Patrick Division, while the Winnipeg Jets took their place in the Smythe Division

1982–83 to 1985–86 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Patrick Norris Smythe
Boston Bruins New Jersey Devils Chicago Black Hawks Calgary Flames
Buffalo Sabres New York Islanders Detroit Red Wings Edmonton Oilers
Hartford Whalers New York Rangers Minnesota North Stars Los Angeles Kings
Montreal Canadiens Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks
Quebec Nordiques Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs Winnipeg Jets
  Washington Capitals  

1986: Chicago changes its spelling[edit]

Chicago changed the spelling of their name from the Black Hawks to the Blackhawks for the 1986–87 season, based on its original franchise documents.

1986–87 to 1990–91 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Patrick Norris Smythe
Boston Bruins New Jersey Devils Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames
Buffalo Sabres New York Islanders Detroit Red Wings Edmonton Oilers
Hartford Whalers New York Rangers Minnesota North Stars Los Angeles Kings
Montreal Canadiens Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks
Quebec Nordiques Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs Winnipeg Jets
  Washington Capitals  

Further expansion[edit]

Twenty-two teams (1991–92)[edit]

The 1991–92 season saw the dawn of rapid expansion and relocation in the NHL, which lasted for the next ten years, starting with the addition of the San Jose Sharks, paying an expansion fee of $45 million ($82.8 million today).[1] The Sharks were placed in the Smythe Division with the other West Coast teams.

1991–92 was the first season in the NHL *
1991–92 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Patrick Norris Smythe
Boston Bruins New Jersey Devils Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames
Buffalo Sabres New York Islanders Detroit Red Wings Edmonton Oilers
Hartford Whalers New York Rangers Minnesota North Stars Los Angeles Kings
Montreal Canadiens Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues San Jose Sharks *
Quebec Nordiques Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs Vancouver Canucks
  Washington Capitals   Winnipeg Jets

Twenty-four teams (1992–93)[edit]

Two new teams joined the league the following season, the Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning, paying an expansion fee of $45 million each ($80.3 million today).[1] The Senators were placed in the Adams Division, and the Lightning in the Norris, so all four divisions would have six teams each.

1992–93 was the first season in the NHL *
1992–93 NHL teams
Wales Campbell
Adams Patrick Norris Smythe
Boston Bruins New Jersey Devils Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames
Buffalo Sabres New York Islanders Detroit Red Wings Edmonton Oilers
Hartford Whalers New York Rangers Minnesota North Stars Los Angeles Kings
Montreal Canadiens Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues San Jose Sharks
Ottawa Senators * Pittsburgh Penguins Tampa Bay Lightning * Vancouver Canucks
Quebec Nordiques Washington Capitals Toronto Maple Leafs Winnipeg Jets

Twenty-six teams (1993–98)[edit]

The next season, another two teams were added, the Florida Panthers and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, paying an expansion fee of $50 million each ($86.7 million today), with Anaheim paying an additional $25 million ($43.4 million today) to the Los Angeles Kings for infringing on their region.[1] The Minnesota North Stars relocated, becoming the Dallas Stars.

The league realign the teams. The names of the conferences were changed from Campbell and Wales to Western and Eastern respectively, and the divisions' names were changed from Adams, Patrick, Norris, and Smythe to Northeast, Atlantic, Central, and Pacific respectively.[3]

1993–94 was the first season in the NHL *
1993–94 to 1994–95 NHL teams
East West
Atlantic Northeast Central Pacific
Florida Panthers * Boston Bruins Chicago Blackhawks Mighty Ducks of Anaheim *
New Jersey Devils Buffalo Sabres Dallas Stars Calgary Flames
New York Islanders Hartford Whalers Detroit Red Wings Edmonton Oilers
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens St. Louis Blues Los Angeles Kings
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators Toronto Maple Leafs San Jose Sharks
Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins Winnipeg Jets Vancouver Canucks
Washington Capitals Quebec Nordiques  

1995: Nordiques relocate to Colorado[edit]

For the 1995–96 season, the Quebec Nordiques relocated and became the Colorado Avalanche. The team also switched conferences, moving from the Northeast Division in the East to the Pacific Division in the West.

1995–96 NHL teams
East West
Atlantic Northeast Central Pacific
Florida Panthers Boston Bruins Chicago Blackhawks Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
New Jersey Devils Buffalo Sabres Dallas Stars Calgary Flames
New York Islanders Hartford Whalers Detroit Red Wings Colorado Avalanche
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens St. Louis Blues Edmonton Oilers
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators Toronto Maple Leafs Los Angeles Kings
Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins Winnipeg Jets San Jose Sharks
Washington Capitals   Vancouver Canucks

1996: Jets relocate to Phoenix[edit]

The 1996–97 season, the Winnipeg Jets moved, becoming the Phoenix Coyotes. The team remained in the Central Division.

1996–97 NHL teams
East West
Atlantic Northeast Central Pacific
Florida Panthers Boston Bruins Chicago Blackhawks Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
New Jersey Devils Buffalo Sabres Dallas Stars Calgary Flames
New York Islanders Hartford Whalers Detroit Red Wings Colorado Avalanche
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens Phoenix Coyotes Edmonton Oilers
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators St. Louis Blues Los Angeles Kings
Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs San Jose Sharks
Washington Capitals   Vancouver Canucks

1997: Whalers relocate to the Carolinas[edit]

The 1997–98 season saw the Hartford Whalers relocate, becoming the Carolina Hurricanes. The team remained in the Northeast Division.

1997–98 NHL teams
East West
Atlantic Northeast Central Pacific
Florida Panthers Boston Bruins Chicago Blackhawks Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
New Jersey Devils Buffalo Sabres Dallas Stars Calgary Flames
New York Islanders Carolina Hurricanes Detroit Red Wings Colorado Avalanche
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens Phoenix Coyotes Edmonton Oilers
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators St. Louis Blues Los Angeles Kings
Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs San Jose Sharks
Washington Capitals   Vancouver Canucks

Twenty-seven teams (1998–99)[edit]

The Nashville Predators joined the league for the 1998–99 season, paying an expansion fee of $80 million ($123 million today).[1] The league also realigned to a strictly geographic six-division structure, with three per conference. The Eastern Conference had the Atlantic, Northeast, and Southeast divisions; while the Western Conference had the Central, Northwest and Pacific divisions. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the only team to switch conferences, moving from the West to the East.

1998–99 was the first season in the NHL *
1998–99 NHL teams
East Atlantic Northeast Southeast
New Jersey Devils Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes
New York Islanders Buffalo Sabres Florida Panthers
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens Tampa Bay Lightning
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators Washington Capitals
Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs  
West Central Northwest Pacific
Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Detroit Red Wings Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars
Nashville Predators * Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks Phoenix Coyotes
  San Jose Sharks

Twenty-eight teams (1999–2000)[edit]

The following season, another team started play, the Atlanta Thrashers, paying the same expansion fee of $80 million ($120.3 million today) as the Predators paid a year earlier.[1] The Thrashers were placed in the Southeast Division.

1999–2000 was the first season in the NHL *
1999–2000 NHL teams
East Atlantic Northeast Southeast
New Jersey Devils Boston Bruins Atlanta Thrashers *
New York Islanders Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens Florida Panthers
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning
Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals
West Central Northwest Pacific
Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Detroit Red Wings Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars
Nashville Predators Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks Phoenix Coyotes
  San Jose Sharks

Thirty teams (2000–2017)[edit]

For its 2000–01 season, the NHL added the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild, each paying the same expansion fee of $80 million ($116.4 million today) as Nashville and Atlanta paid in the previous two years.[1] The Blue Jackets were placed in the Central Division, and the Wild in the Northwest, so all six divisions would have five teams each.

For the next 17 seasons, the NHL maintained 30 teams, the second longest period (after the Original Six period) of membership stability in its history.

2000–01 was the first season in the NHL *
2000–01 to 2005–06 NHL teams
East Atlantic Northeast Southeast
New Jersey Devils Boston Bruins Atlanta Thrashers
New York Islanders Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens Florida Panthers
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning
Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals
West Central Northwest Pacific
Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Columbus Blue Jackets * Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
Nashville Predators Minnesota Wild * Phoenix Coyotes
St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks San Jose Sharks

2006: Anaheim shortens its name[edit]

The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim changed their name to the Anaheim Ducks in the 2006–07 season.

2006–07 to 2010–11 NHL teams
East Atlantic Northeast Southeast
New Jersey Devils Boston Bruins Atlanta Thrashers
New York Islanders Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens Florida Panthers
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning
Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals
West Central Northwest Pacific
Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames Anaheim Ducks
Columbus Blue Jackets Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
Nashville Predators Minnesota Wild Phoenix Coyotes
St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks San Jose Sharks

2011: Thrashers relocate to Winnipeg[edit]

The Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, becoming the second version of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2011–12 NHL season. The team remained in the Southeast Division.

2011–12 to 2012–13 NHL teams
East Atlantic Northeast Southeast
New Jersey Devils Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes
New York Islanders Buffalo Sabres Florida Panthers
New York Rangers Montreal Canadiens Tampa Bay Lightning
Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators Washington Capitals
Pittsburgh Penguins Toronto Maple Leafs Winnipeg Jets
West Central Northwest Pacific
Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames Anaheim Ducks
Columbus Blue Jackets Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
Nashville Predators Minnesota Wild Phoenix Coyotes
St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks San Jose Sharks

2013 realignment[edit]

The 2011 relocation of the former Atlanta Thrashers franchise to the Winnipeg Jets in prompted the league to discuss realignment. However, disagreement between the NHL Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) caused it to be pushed to 2013.

On December 5, 2011, the NHL Board of Governors originally approved a conference realignment plan to move from a six-division setup to a four-conference structure.[4] However on January 6, 2012, the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) rejected that proposed realignment.[5][6] A new joint NHL-NHLPA plan was proposed in February 2013 as a modification of the previous plan with both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings moving to the East and the Winnipeg Jets moving to the West. The NHLPA officially gave its consent to the NHL's proposed realignment plan on March 7,[7] and then the NHL's Board of Governors approved the realignment on March 14, to be implemented prior to the 2013–14 season.[8] The league then announced the names of the divisions on July 19: the two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference would be the Atlantic Division and the Metropolitan Division, and the two seven-team divisions in the Western Conference would be the Central Division and the Pacific Division.[9]

2013–14 NHL teams
East West
Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific
Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes Chicago Blackhawks Anaheim Ducks
Buffalo Sabres Columbus Blue Jackets Colorado Avalanche Calgary Flames
Detroit Red Wings New Jersey Devils Dallas Stars Edmonton Oilers
Florida Panthers New York Islanders Minnesota Wild Los Angeles Kings
Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers Nashville Predators Phoenix Coyotes
Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues San Jose Sharks
Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins Winnipeg Jets Vancouver Canucks
Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals  

2014: The Coyotes change their name[edit]

The Phoenix Coyotes changed their name to Arizona Coyotes for the 2014–15 season.

2014–15 to 2016–17 NHL teams
East West
Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific
Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes Chicago Blackhawks Anaheim Ducks
Buffalo Sabres Columbus Blue Jackets Colorado Avalanche Arizona Coyotes
Detroit Red Wings New Jersey Devils Dallas Stars Calgary Flames
Florida Panthers New York Islanders Minnesota Wild Edmonton Oilers
Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers Nashville Predators Los Angeles Kings
Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues San Jose Sharks
Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins Winnipeg Jets Vancouver Canucks
Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals  

Thirty-one teams (2017–2021)[edit]

On June 22, 2016, the Board of Governors voted 30-0 to add an expansion franchise in Las Vegas for the 2017–18 season, charging an expansion fee of $500 million ($522 million today).[1] The new team, the Vegas Golden Knights, were put into the Pacific Division.

2017–18 was the first season in the NHL *
2017–18 to 2020–21 NHL teams
East West
Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific
Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes Chicago Blackhawks Anaheim Ducks
Buffalo Sabres Columbus Blue Jackets Colorado Avalanche Arizona Coyotes
Detroit Red Wings New Jersey Devils Dallas Stars Calgary Flames
Florida Panthers New York Islanders Minnesota Wild Edmonton Oilers
Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers Nashville Predators Los Angeles Kings
Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers St. Louis Blues San Jose Sharks
Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins Winnipeg Jets Vancouver Canucks
Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals   Vegas Golden Knights *

Thirty-two teams (2021–future)[edit]

On December 4, 2018, Seattle was announced as the location of the future thirty-second franchise to begin play in the 2021–22 season, with an expansion fee of $650 million.[10] The new Seattle NHL team will be placed in the Pacific Division, while the Arizona Coyotes will be moved to the Central Division.[10]

2021–22 will be the first season in the NHL *
2021–22 NHL teams
East West
Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific
Boston Bruins Carolina Hurricanes Arizona Coyotes Anaheim Ducks
Buffalo Sabres Columbus Blue Jackets Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames
Detroit Red Wings New Jersey Devils Colorado Avalanche Edmonton Oilers
Florida Panthers New York Islanders Dallas Stars Los Angeles Kings
Montreal Canadiens New York Rangers Minnesota Wild San Jose Sharks
Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers Nashville Predators Seattle *
Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks
Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals Winnipeg Jets Vegas Golden Knights

Timeline[edit]


Expansion and dispersal drafts[edit]

Draft Location City Date Expansion team(s) Players drafted #1 pick(s)
1967 Queen Elizabeth Hotel Montreal, Quebec June 6, 1967 California Seals
Los Angeles Kings
Minnesota North Stars
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
St. Louis Blues
120 Terry Sawchuk (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1970 N/A N/A June 10, 1970 Buffalo Sabres
Vancouver Canucks
40 Tom Webster (Boston Bruins)
Gary Doak (Boston Bruins)
1972 N/A N/A June 6, 1972 Atlanta Flames
New York Islanders
42 Phil Myre (Montreal Canadiens)
Gerry Desjardins (Chicago Black Hawks)
1974 N/A N/A June 12, 1974 Kansas City Scouts
Washington Capitals
48 Michel Plasse (Montreal Canadiens)
Ron Low (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1978
(dispersal)
N/A N/A June 15, 1978 Cleveland Barons
Minnesota North Stars
2 N/A
1979 N/A N/A June 13, 1979 Edmonton Oilers
Hartford Whalers
Quebec Nordiques
Winnipeg Jets
65 Cam Connor (Montreal Canadiens)
Alan Hangsleben (Montreal Canadiens)
Dave Farrish (New York Rangers)
Peter Marsh (Montreal Canadiens)
1991 N/A N/A May 30, 1991 Minnesota North Stars
San Jose Sharks
44 Shane Churla (Minnesota North Stars; dispersal)
Jeff Hackett (New York Islanders)
Rob Ramage (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1992 N/A N/A June 18, 1992 Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning
42 Peter Sidorkiewicz (Hartford Whalers)
Wendell Young (Pittsburgh Penguins)
1993 Quebec Coliseum Quebec City, Quebec June 24–25, 1993 Florida Panthers
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
51 John Vanbiesbrouck (Vancouver Canucks)
Guy Hebert (St. Louis Blues)
1998 Marine Midland Arena Buffalo, New York June 26, 1998 Nashville Predators 26 N/A
1999 FleetCenter Boston, Massachusetts June 25, 1999 Atlanta Thrashers 26 N/A
2000 Pengrowth Saddledome Calgary, Alberta June 23, 2000 Columbus Blue Jackets
Minnesota Wild
52 Rick Tabaracci (Colorado Avalanche)
Jamie McLennan (Florida Panthers)
2017 T-Mobile Arena Paradise, Nevada June 21, 2017 Vegas Golden Knights 30 Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche)

Possible expansion[edit]

Despite statements from the NHL in recent years that no further expansion or even relocation was planned for the foreseeable future (a statement partially contradicted by the relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg), there have been rumors and talks of potential new sites for existing or new teams in various locations in the United States and Canada.[citation needed] Since Winnipeg received the Jets in 2011, potential markets for relocation that have seen action in recent years include Quebec City, Hartford, Houston, Saskatoon, Kansas City, and Southern Ontario (which would be Hamilton, Toronto or Markham, although the league has actively blocked all of the Southern Ontario efforts to date, citing territorial concerns with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Carp, Steve (2016-06-22). "Cost of NHL expansion team goes from $2 million to $500 million". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  2. ^ a b c "Franchise fees reduced". The Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. 1977-03-02. Retrieved 2018-05-11.
  3. ^ Kerr, Grant (April 1, 1993). "NHL formally announces complete realignment package". The Globe and Mail. Canadian Press. p. C8.
  4. ^ Rosen, Dan (December 5, 2011). "Governors adopt radical four-conference realignment plan". NHL.com. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  5. ^ NHL realignment on hold after union balks Archived September 18, 2012, at Archive.today. The Sports Network. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  6. ^ NHL Alignment Will NOT Change as NHLPA Rejects Re-alignment. Here's why.... Hockeybuzz.com. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  7. ^ Dan Rosen (March 8, 2013). "Board of Governors Vote Next Step For Realignment Plan". NHL.com.
  8. ^ Dan Rosen (March 14, 2013). "Realignment plan approved by Board of Governors". NHL.com.
  9. ^ Dan Rosen (July 19, 2013). "NHL introduces new division names with schedule". NHL.com.
  10. ^ a b Chiappelli, Kirstie (December 4, 2018). "Seattle lands NHL expansion team starting in 2021-22 season". Sporting News. Retrieved December 5, 2018.