About the League

The National Hockey League (NHL) is a pro ice hockey league composed of 30 franchises: 23 in the United States and 7 in Canada. Headquartered in New York City, the league is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the four major pro leagues in North America. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.

The NHL was organized on November 26, 1917, in Montreal, Quebec, after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909 in Renfrew, Ontario. The NHL immediately took the NHA's place as one of the leagues that contested for the Stanley Cup in an annual inter-league competition before a series of league mergers and folds left the NHL as the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup in 1926. At its inception, the NHL had four teams—all in Canada, thus the adjective "National" in the league's name. The league expanded to the United States in 1924, when the Boston Bruins joined, and has since consisted of American and Canadian teams.

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.

Each National Hockey League regulation game is 60 minutes long. The game is composed of three 20-minute periods with an intermission between periods. At the end of regulation time, the team with the most goals wins the game. If a game is tied after regulation time, overtime ensues. During the regular season, overtime is a five-minute, three-on-three sudden-death period, in which whoever scores a goal first will win the game.

If the game is still tied at the end of overtime, the game enters a shootout. Three players for each team in turn take a penalty shot. The team with the most goals during the three-round shootout wins the game. If the game is still tied after the three shootout rounds, the shootout continues but becomes sudden-death. Whichever team ultimately wins the shootout is awarded a goal in the game score and thus awarded two points in the standings.

The losing team in overtime or shootout is awarded only one. Shootout goals and saves are not tracked in hockey statistics; shootout statistics are tracked separately. There are no shootouts during the Playoffs. Instead, multiple sudden-death, 20-minute five-on-five periods are played until one team scores (continuous OT). Two games have reached six overtime periods, but none have gone beyond six. During playoff overtime periods, the only break is to clean the loose ice at the first stoppage after the period is halfway finished.

League Formation

Founding Franchises (4) (1917-'18):

Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Wanderers

Ottawa Senators

Toronto Hockey Club

The Original 6 (1942-'67):





New York


Post-Original 6 Expansion Franchises (1967-Onwards):

California Seals

Los Angeles Kings

Minnesota North Stars

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins

St. Louis Blues

Buffalo Sabres

Vancouver Canucks

Atlanta Flames

New York Islanders

Kansas City Scouts

Washington Capitals

Edmonton Oilers

Hartford Whalers

Quebec Nordiques

Winnipeg Jets

San Jose Sharks

Ottawa Senators

Tampa Bay Lightning

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim

Florida Panthers

Nashville Predators

Atlanta Thrashers

Columbus Blue Jackets

Minnesota Wild

Vegas Golden Knights

Seattle Kraken


Relocated/Merged & Contracted Franchises:

Contracted Franchised denoted with (*)



Arizona Coyotes

Brooklyn Americans*

Calgary Flames

Carolina Hurricanes

Cleveland Barons*

Colorado Avalanche

Dallas Stars

Hamilton Tigers*

New Jersey Devils

Philadelphia Quakers*

St. Louis Eagles*

Winnipeg Jets


Montreal Maroons*


Montreal Wanderers*


Rogers Sports & Media

Walt Disney M&ED

AT&T - WarnerMedia

SAP - Stats & Analytics

NHL Live App (CAN)


NHL Centre Ice (CA)

NHL Center Ice (USA)

NHL Network TV (USA)

NHL Network Radio

NHL App on Google Play

NHL App on App Store

NHL App on Playstation


NHL App on Apple TV

NHL App on Roku


EA Sports