95 Years of NHL History


original-nhl-logoThe 2017-2018 NHL season will mark the 100th Anniversary of the National Hockey League and although we are five years away, The Hockey Fanatic wanted to share some of the great pieces of history from the NHL game.  We have compiled a list of 95 items (one from each year) to celebrate the 95 years of NHL history.

The National Hockey League (NHL) was born on November 26, 1917.  The NHL opened with five teams in the following cities:

  • Montreal (two teams) with the Montreal Wanderers and the Montreal Canadiens
  • Ottawa – with the original Ottawa Senators
  • Quebec City – with the Quebec Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs would fold before the season would start.
  • Toronto – not the Maple Leafs but the Toronto Arenas

The previous league was the National Hockey Association, but due to the first world war, many professional hockey players were supporting their country over in Europe so the talent level was severely depleted.  The first NHL season saw the Toronto Arenas win the Stanley Cup.

95 Seasons of NHL Hockey History

  1. 1917-1918: The leading scorer of the NHL in its first season was Montreal Candiens’ Joe Malone who had 48 points on the strength of 44 goals and 4 assists.  Malone’s 44 goals would be a league record until 1944-45.
  2. 1918-1919: Due to the influenza epidemic, the Stanley Cup was not awarded.  The Stanley Cup was being played for between the Montreal Canadiens and the Pacific Coast Association’s Seattle Metropolitans.
  3. 1919-1920: Quebec rejoins the NHL with their team named the “Athletics” but set an NHL futility mark.  Quebec goalie, Frank Brophy allows nearly 150 goals (148) in only 21 games.  The Montreal Canadiens thump Quebec 16-3 in one game as the Quebec franchise allows double-digit goals on five different occasions.
  4. 1920-1921: The Ottawa Senators win back-to-back Cups to become the first NHL dynasty.
  5. 1921-1922: The first tie in NHL history occurs between the Toronto St. Patricks and Ottawa Senators as they play to a 4-4 draw.
  6. 1922-1923:  The Ottawa Senators again win the Stanley Cup as they defeat the Edmonton Eskimos.  Ottawa’s King Clancy plays all six positions in a 1-0 victory over the Eskimos.
  7. 1923-1924:  The Montreal Canadiens win their first Stanley Cup.
  8. 1924-1925:  The Boston Bruins become the first American club in the National Hockey League.
  9. 1925-1926:  The New York Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates join the NHL as it becomes a seven team league.
  10. 1926-1927:  The Chicago Blackhawks join the National Hockey League along with the Detroit Cougars and the New York Rangers.
  11. 1927-1928:  The New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup in five games over the Montreal Maroons.
  12. 1928-1929:  The Boston Bruins win their first Stanley Cup.
  13. 1929-1930:  A new rule is established where forward passes are allowed in all three zones but not across the bluelines.
  14. 1930-1931:  Howie Morenz of the Montreal Canadiens leads the league in scoring posting 51 points.
  15. 1931-1932:  Although Toronto based teams won the Stanley Cup in 1917-1918 and 1921-1922, this season marks the first time that the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.
  16. 1932-1933:  Detroit Falcons become the Detroit Red Wings.
  17. 1933-1934:  In an intense game between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs on December 12th, the Leafs King Clancy knocks down Boston’s Eddie Shore and in attempt to get back at Clancy, Shore mistakes Ace Bailey for Clancy and hits him from behind.  Bailey’s head hits the ice and is rushed to the hospital in critical condition.  Ace Bailey recovers but never plays again.  Eddie Shore is suspended for 16 games for the hit.
  18. 1934-1935:  The penalty shot is invented and goalies stop 25 of 29 penalty shots that season.
  19. 1935-1936:  The Detroit Red Wings win their first Stanley Cup.  They repeat the following year.
  20. 1936-1937:  In a late January game, the Canadiens’ Howie Morenz is hit into the boards by Chicago’s Earl Seibert and suffers a broken leg as a result.  Morenz suffers a nervous breakdown in the hospital and dies of an embolism on March 8th.  As many as 200,000 fans line the streets of Montreal to watch the funeral.
  21. 1937-1938:  Nels Stewart, now playing for the New York Americans, becomes the first NHL player to reach 300 career goals.  He would finish his career with 324.
  22. 1938-1939:  The league moves from a two referee system to one referee and one linesman.
  23. 1939-1940:  The New York Rangers win their third Stanley Cup and wouldn’t win another one for 54 years prompting New York Islanders fans years later to chant “1940″ prior to the Rangers winning the Cup in 1994.
  24. 1940-1941:  This is the first season that flooding the ice becomes mandatory in between periods.
  25. 1941-1942:  The Toronto Maple Leafs down three games to none in the Stanley Cup final against the Detroit Red Wings cup back to win the Stanley Cup four games to three in one of the greatest comebacks in all of sports history.
  26. 1942-1943:  With the loss of the Brooklyn (formerly New York) Americans, this season marks the beginning of the original six era in the NHL that would last for nearly a quarter of a decade.
  27. 1943-1944:  With a new center ice redline introduced, Boston’s Herb Cain leads the league in scoring with 82 points.
  28. 1944-1945:  Montreal Canadiens superstar Maurice “The Rocket” Richard scores 50 goals in 50 games breaking Joe Malone’s record for goals in a single season.
  29. 1945-1946:  The NHL approves the existence of the Hockey Hall of Fame and inducts Art Ross, former NHLers Georges Vezina, Howie Morenz, Eddie Gerard and Charlie Gardiner are initial inductees.  A handful of pre-NHLers are also added including Lord Stanley of Preston who donated the Stanley Cup
  30. 1946-1947:  Gordie Howe plays his rookie season with the Detroit Red Wings.
  31. 1947-1948:  The Toronto Maple Leafs win their second of three in a row Stanley Cups.
  32. 1948-1949:  The Toronto Maple Leafs win their third consecutive Stanley Cup becoming the first team to do so.
  33. 1949-1950:  The NHL decides to paint the ice surface white to make it easier to see the puck and follow the game.
  34. 1950-1951:  After suffering a near fatal head injury in last year’s playoffs, Gordie Howe leads the league in points with 86 with an even split of 43 goals and 43 assists.
  35. 1951-1952:  Bernie Geoffrion is credited as the first player to use a slapshot as he scores two goals in the Habs season opener.  Geoffrion would finish up with 54 points on the season.
  36. 1952-1953:  On October 1, 1952, the NHL broadcasts its first game on TV in Canada with a game between the Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings in a French language telecast.  One month later, the first English broadcast happens in Canada with legendary announcer Foster Hewitt calling a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.  Leafs win the game 3-2.
  37. 1953-1954:  Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings become the first recipient of the James Norris trophy for the league’s top defenseman.
  38. 1954-1955:  During a meltdown vs a game against Boston, Maurice “Rocket” Richard of the Montreal Canadiens attacks the Bruins’ Hal Laycoe with his stick and punches a linesman resulting in NHL president Clarence Campbell suspending Richard for the remainder of the season.  The suspension ends up costing Richard his one and only chance at an NHL scoring title.  Montreal fans go nuts and the Richard Riot is born.  A tear gas bomb is launched in the Montreal Forum and damage is in the hundreds of thousands and Campbell receives death threats.  Maurice Richard ends up being suspended for 15 games and pleads with fans to stop rioting.
  39. 1955-1956:  The Montreal Canadiens win their first of five consecutive Stanley Cups, a record that stands to today.
  40. 1956-1957:  A new rule change sees players return to the ice when a power-play goal is scored.  Previously players had to serve the full two minutes of a minor penalty regardless of how many goals the opponent scored.
  41. 1957-1958:  Canadiens great Maurice Richard becomes the first NHLer to pot 500 goals in his career as he scored vs. the Blackhawks Glenn Hall.  Later this season, Willie O’Ree becomes the first African Canadian player in the NHL as he suits up for the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.
  42. 1958-1959:  Montreal’s Dickie Moore leads the league in points with 96, the highest ever up until this point.
  43. 1959-1960:  The Montreal Canadiens win their fifth consecutive Stanley Cup.  Along the way, Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante wears a mask for the first time during an NHL game.  Maurice “Rocket” Richard retire prior to the next season.
  44. 1960-1961:  “Boom Boom”  Geoffrion becomes the second NHLer ever to score 50 goals in a single season.
  45. 1961-1962:  Bobby Hull of the Chicago Blackhawks leads the NHL in scoring with 84 points and becomes one of the first players along with teammate Stan Mikita to use a curved blade in their stick.
  46. 1962-1963:  The first NHL amateur draft is held albeit behind closed doors.  The Montreal Canadiens draft Garry Monahan first overall.  Check out out post on 50 years of the NHL draft for more.
  47. 1963-1964:  The Toronto Maple Leafs win their third consecutive Stanley Cup.
  48. 1964-1965:  Ulf Sterner from Sweden becomes the first European trained player in the NHL.  The forward plays four games with the New York Rangers.
  49. 1965-1966:  Bobby Hull scores 54 goals and leads the league in points with 97.
  50. 1966-1967:  Bobby Orr makes his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins.  Orr signs a two year $75,000 contract and changes the way the game is played by defensemen.
  51. 1967-1968:  The expansion era begins as the NHL doubles in size from the Original Six to twelve teams as franchises are awarded to the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota North Stars, Oakland Seals, and Los Angeles Kings.
  52. 1968-1969:  Three players score more than 100 points in the season as Phil Esposito (126), Bobby Hull (107) and Gordie Howe (103) hit the century mark.  Boston’s Brad Park becomes the first player to use an aluminum stick.
  53. 1969-1970:  Defenseman Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins leads the NHL in points with 120 scoring 33 goals and adding 87 assists.  Orr shatters all previous records for defensemen.
  54. 1970-1971:  The league expands to 14 teams with the addition of  the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks.  Boston Bruins finish one, two three in scoring as Phil Esposito (152), Bobby Orr (139) and Johnny Bucyk (116) dominate record books.
  55. 1971-1972:  Bobby Orr becomes hockey’s first million-dollar player and leads the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup.  Orr’s contract is $200,000 per season.
  56. 1972-1973:  The Atlanta Flames and New York Islanders are added to the NHL making it a 16 team league.  A rival league, the World Hockey Association (WHA) begins to lure players away from the NHL.
  57. 1973-1974:  The Philadelphia Flyers become the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup as the Broadstreet Bullies win their first of two Cups.  Thus far it is the only Stanley Cup championships that the team has ever one.
  58. 1974-1975:  Bobby Orr hits 100 points for the sixth consecutive season and leads the NHL with 135 points.  The league adds franchises to Kansas City (Scouts) and Washington (Capitals).
  59. 1975-1976:  Toronto’s Darryl Sittler records ten points in a single game versus the Boston Bruins as he scores six times and adds four assists.
  60. 1976-1977:  Bobby Orr signs with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent.   The powerhouse Montreal Camadiens earn 60 wins during the regular season and win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
  61. 1977-1978:  Mike Bossy of  the New York Islanders destroys the rookie goal scoring record as he pots 53 goals.
  62. 1978-1979:  The Montreal Canadiens earn their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup.  The legendary Bobby Orr retires due to knee injuries.  He wins three Hart trophies (NHL MVP) and eight Norris trophies as the top NHL de-man.
  63. 1979-1980:  The WHA folds and four teams, the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques and Hartford Whalers joing the NHL.  Young phenom Wayne Gretzky ties LA’s Marcel Dionne for the scoring title with 137 points but finishes second based on goals scored.
  64. 1980-1981:  Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers breaks the single season point record as he puts up 164 points.  There would be many more NHL records to fall to the “Great One”.
  65. 1981-1982:  Wayne Gretzky scores 212 points breaking his own record and shatters the record for goals scored as he scores 92 that season, 100 if you include his eight playoff tallies.  His most remarkable record?  Gretzky scores 50 goals in a mere 39 games as the Edmonton Oilers become the first team in NHL history to score 400 goals in a single season.
  66. 1982-1983:  Wayne Gretzky finishes the season with more assists 125, than anyone else has points.  He tallies 196 points and leads the Oilers to the Stanley Cup final where they lose as the New York Islanders sweep the talented Oilers for their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup.
  67. 1983-1984:  There is a changing of  the guard as Wayne Gretzky (205) and Paul Coffey (126) finish one, two in league scoring.  The Edmonton Oilers defeat the New York Islanders in five games to claim their first Stanley Cup.  The Oilers outscore the Islanders 21-12 and Mark Messier wins the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP.
  68. 1984-1985:  Three of the top five NHL scorers come from the Edmonton Oilers as Wayne Gretzky again leads the league with 208 points followed in second by linemate Jari Kurri who puts up 135 points.  Paul Coffey scores 121 points finishing fifth in league scoring.  The Oilers win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
  69. 1985-1986:  Edmonton’s Paul Coffey best Bobby Orr’s goals scoring record for defenseman as he scores 47 goals in the season and finishes with 138 points.  Wayne Gretzky breaks his own single season record scoring 215 points a mark that has never been in jeopardy of being eclipsed.  The Montreal Canadiens win their 23rd Stanley Cup.
  70. 1986-1987:  The NHL welcomes a team from the Soviet Union to partake in the two game Rendez-Vous ’87 in which the teams each split the games with the NHL winning 4-3 and the Russians winning 5-3.  The game opens the door for an influx of Russian players to enter the NHL.
  71. 1987-1988:  The Edmonton Oilers win their fourth Cup in five years becoming the last true NHL dynasty.
  72. 1988-1989:  On August 9, 1988, the Edmonton Oilers, or rather Peter Pocklington trade Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in a deal that shocks the nation of Canada.  The deal sees the NHL eye an opportunity to sell the game to markets in sunbelt States while Wayne Gretzky would never win another Stanley Cup.  The Oilers fade in the playoffs as the Calgary Flames win their one and only (thus far) Stanley Cup. Wayne Gretzky will finish with 168 points in his first season in LA second to Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux who score 199 points.
  73. 1989-1990:  The Gretzky-less Oilers lead by captain Mark Messier win the fifth Stanley Cup as they knock off the Boston Bruins in the Finals.  Mark Messier finishes the year with 129 points second to Gretzky’s 142.
  74. 1990-1991:  Mario Lemieux leads the Pittsburgh Penguins to their first of two consecutive Stanley Cups.
  75. 1991-1992:  The San Jose Sharks are added to the NHL with the NHL now featuring 22 teams.
  76. 1992-1993:  The Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators are added as expansion franchises.  Mario Lemieux leads the league in scoring with 160 points.
  77. 1993-1994:  The New York Rangers defeat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940.  Wayne Gretzky leads the league in scoring with 130 points and scores career goal #802 surpassing Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe.
  78. 1994-1995:  The NHL lockouts out the players for 103 days.  the league plays a 48 game season that begins on January 20th.  The New Jersey Devils win the Stanley Cup in the shortened season becoming the first team lower than a top four seeded team to win the Stanley Cup.
  79. 1995-1996:  The Quebec Nordiques move to Colorado and become the Avalanche.  The Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup becoming the first and only team to win the Stanley Cup in their first year in a new city.
  80. 1996-1997:  The Winnipeg Jets move to Phoenix and become the Phoenix Coyotes.
  81. 1997-1998:  The Detroit Red Wings win their second consecutive Stanley Cup, becoming the last team to do so as of 2013.
  82. 1998-1999:  The Greatest One to ever play the game, Wayne Gretzky retires from the NHL having scored 894 goals, 1,963 assists for 2,857 points.  He leaves the game holding 61 NHL records.
  83. 1999-2000:  The Atlanta Thrashers are added to the NHL but only last 12 seasons before being relocated to Winnipeg as the Jets are reborn in 2011-2012.
  84. 2000-2001:  Ray Bourque ends a storied career with a Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
  85. 2001-2002:  Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames leads the league in scoring with 96 points.  The Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup.
  86. 2002-2003:  The New Jersey Devils win their third Stanley Cup.
  87. 2003-2004:  The Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens play in the Heritage Classic a precursor to the Winter Classic in an outdoor game in Edmonton.  The Habs win 4-3.  The Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Calgary Flames in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup.
  88. 2004-2005:  The NHL cancels the season due to a lockout and a failed Collective Bargaining negotiation between the NHLPA and the NHL becoming the first and only professional franchise to miss an entire season due to a labor issue.
  89. 2005-2006:  The “New” NHL returns with the unlikely Carolina Hurricanes defeating the Cinderella Edmonton Oilers in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup.
  90. 2006-2007:  Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins leads all scorers with 120 points and the Anaheim Ducks win the Stanley Cup.
  91. 2007-2008:  The NHL launches their first Winter Classic.  An outdoor game held on New Year’s Day between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
  92. 2008-2009:  Evgeni Malkin leads the league in scoring with 113 points and helps Pittsburgh win their third Stanley Cup.
  93. 2009-2010:  The Chicago Blackhawks win their first Stanley Cup in 49 years.
  94. 2010-2011:  The Boston Bruins win their first Stanley Cup since 1970 in seven games over the Vancouver Canucks.  Canucks fans take their frustrations to the streets and begin rioting.
  95. 2011-2012:  The Los Angeles Kings riding the stellar goaltending of Johnathan Quick barely make the playoffs as an eight seed in the Western Conference and go on a terror in the post season knocking off Cup favorites such as Vancouver and St. Louis to win their first ever Stanley Cup.
  96. 2012-2013:  For a third time, Gary Bettman locks the players out and in mid-January it is announced that a new Collective Bargaining agreement has been reached.  A 48 game season to be held in 99 days is established.

Shop for official 2013 NHL team fan merchandise at Shop.NHL.com

There you have it hockey fans. 95 years of NHL Hockey History. We cannot wait for the 100th Anniversary of the NHL. It should be a special season. Wouldn’t it be great if the Ottawa Senators won the Stanley Cup in 2017-2018? They won the first Stanley Cup and maybe they will win the Cup in the 100th NHL season? Or perhaps it will be the famed Montreal Canadiens. Let’s just hope that it is not one of those sunbelt US based teams. Here’s to 95 great years of NHL action.

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