Hockey is among the most popular sports of today’s world, and Ice Hockey is a particular favorite with citizens of America and Canada. National Hockey League or NHL is the biggest governing body of professional men’s ice hockey in these two regions. It overlooks all the games played by hockey teams of Eastern and Western conferences throughout the season. At the end of every season, Stanley Cup is awarded to the topmost team of NHL.
NHL is a professional ice hockey league that organizes biggest ice hockey tournaments in different cities. Initially founded in 1909 as National Hockey Association, the league was revamped as National Hockey League in 1917 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Its initial members include only four franchises; Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Blueshirts.
The National Hockey League got momentum in 1920’s when some American franchises became its members. Boston Bruins became the first U.S.-based franchise to join NHL; followed by (now called) New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Although, the total number of teams became 10 at the end of the decade, Great Depression badly affected the league and the total teams were reduced to 6. These franchises are known as Original Six because they kept the spirit of NHL alive for the next twenty-five years.
The major boast for National Hockey League occurred in 1967 when six new expansion teams became its members. From there onwards till now, it has included many new franchises in both the conferences. Today, NHL is the NUMERO UNO league in the field of ice-hockey. The league consists of many popular and commercially viable franchises. There are two conferences, Eastern and Western. The Eastern Conference is further divided into three divisions; Atlantic, Northeast and Southeast while Western Conference is subdivided into Central, Northwest and Pacific Divisions. Each division has 5 franchises in total, summing up professional NHL teams to 30. These include 6 Canadian and 24 American franchises making NHL the first North American league that has its teams playing in two countries simultaneously.
The highest professional title given by NHL is called Stanley Cup. This is not only the oldest professional sports trophy in North America but also one of the most anticipated sports championships in the world of sports. Stanley Cup finalists are decided on the basis of points total in the regular season. Each franchise plays eighty-two regular season games, both home and away, and the top 8 teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs.
The NHL points system works in the same manner like that of other professional sports. The Playoff season witness cut-throat encounters between 16 teams. Finally, the top-seeded teams from each conference face each other in the Finals and the winning franchise becomes Stanley Cup Champion. In the past decade or so, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens have been crowned the winners of Stanley Cup.
Stanley Cup is not the only popular event in the world of hockey. The NHL All-Star Game comes on a close second as this exhibition game attracts millions of eyeballs both live and on televisions. Usually held in the middle of the regular NHL season, this game assembles star players from different franchises who play against each other in order to raise funds to benefit the pension fund of the players.
Talking about hockey stars, NHL has given a plethora of talent to the world of sports. Over the years, the league has witnessed power-play by celebrated players like Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy, Mario Lemieux, Jacques Plante, Maurice Richard and many others. Their record breaking achievements and highly cherished hockey moments are still fresh in our memory.
Like any other professional league, NHL has also seen ups and downs throughout its history. The cancellation of 2004-05 season due to a labor dispute is among the most recent loss that the league has witnessed. However, despite some occasional crunches, NHL is regarded one of the most esteemed and highly commercialized leagues in professional sport. If the viewership and sponsorships is increasing on Television and other media at one hand, then on the other hand; attendance percentage in regular season games, playoffs and finals is also reaching sky high.
For a regular hockey enthusiast, NHL is beyond boundaries and region. However, there are millions others who rigorously support the franchise of their own city/state; thus making way for famous hockey rivalries. Maple Leafs-Canadiens, Bruins-Canadiens, Oilers-Flames and Avalanche-Red Wings are the famous rivalries of the league.
Watching an NHL game is great delight for every ice-hockey lover, hence they flock in huge numbers to support their favorite team. That is the reason why tickets for most of these games are sold out well in advance. However, our huge inventory of NHL Tickets ensures that you never miss a chance to watch your favorite NHL team live in action while they are playing in your city.
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