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National Hockey League (NHL)
The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America that consists of 32 teams, 25 of which are located in the United States and 7 in Canada. One of the four main professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, it is regarded as the best ice hockey league in the world. The league playoff winner is given the Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, at the conclusion of each season. After the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the English Premier League, the NHL is the fifth-richest professional sport league in the world by revenue.
After the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been established in 1909 in Renfrew, Ontario, had ceased operations, the National Hockey League was established at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal on November 26, 1917. Before a series of league mergers and foldings left the NHL as the only league left fighting for the Stanley Cup in 1926, the NHL instantly took the NHA’s place as one of the leagues that battled for the Stanley Cup in an annual interleague competition.
The NHL was founded with four Canadian based teams, hence the word “National” in the league’s name. When the Boston Bruins joined the league in 1924, it was expanded to include American teams, and this continued ever since. The league’s only six teams from 1942 to 1967 were collectively (though not simultaneously) referred to as the “Original Six.” Six additional teams were introduced to the NHL in 1967, doubling its size. By 1974, there were 18 clubs in the league, and by 1979, there were 21 teams. 30 franchises were added to the NHL between 1991 and 2000. It added its 32nd and 31st teams, respectively, in 2017 and 2021.
Since 1989, when the head office relocated from Montreal to Midtown Manhattan, the league has had its headquarters there. In NHL history, there have been four league-wide strikes, all of which took place after 1992. The Stanley Cup is regarded as one of the “most significant championships available to the sport” by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The NHL currently includes players from about 20 different countries and attracts many highly gifted athletes from across the world. The majority of players in the league have historically been Canadians, while recent seasons have seen an increase in the number of American and European players.
NHL teams with the most victories are the Montreal Canadiens (24). (including 23 Stanley Cup championships since entering the league). The Colorado Avalanche, who prevailed against the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 in the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals, are the current league champions heading into the 2022–23 season.
Living Legends: NHL
Throughout the history of the NHL, many players have stepped onto the ice, but only a select number have left a lasting imprint. Pioneers and record breakers like Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, and Wayne Gretzky have permanently inscribed their names in the league. The honor can be shared, though, as three active players compete to become the greatest skaters in NHL history by breaking sticks and claiming titles.
At 43 years old, Florida Panthers right winger Jaromir Jagr is currently the oldest active player in the NHL. Having been in the game for quite some time, Jagr has the accolades to show for it.
During his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jagr won back to back Stanley Cup Championships (1991 and 1992). He also earned bragging rights for being a nine time NHL All-Star, five-time Art Ross Trophy winner (earned for scoring the most points), and is third in the league for all-time goals. Presently, Jagr is the current active leader for games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals, and game-winning goals
Pittsburgh saw immediate talent in young Jagr after picking him up in the first round of the 1990 NHL draft. The right winger spent 11 seasons in Pittsburgh before playing on several more teams throughout his career. As of right now, Jagr is featured in the starting lineup for the Florida Panthers in his 23rd NHL season.
Jagr’s career is similar to the one experienced by Hall of Famer Gordie Howe. During his tenure with the league, Howe played for 32 seasons and retired at the age of 52 – making him the oldest player to suit up in the NHL. Some of Jagr’s other career stats match closely with Hall of Famer Joe Sakic and Finnish winger Teemu Selanne. There’s no doubt that he will join these legends in the Hall of Fame once he retires.
Ovechkin the Great
Alexander Ovechkin is a Russian-born hockey player known for his aggressive play style as well as scoring goals. Ovechkin was picked up in the first round by the Washington Capitals during the 2004 NHL draft and has continued to stick with the D.C. team. Ovie’s dedication has not gone unnoticed. He became the team captain for the Caps in early 2010.
Ovechkin is determined to win the Stanley Cup and has earned many accolades along the way. He is the current active leader for goals per game and hat tricks, in addition to being a six-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner (most goals). He is also a five time NHL All-Star and a three-time Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player) and Hart Memorial Trophy winner (most valuable player).
There’s no doubt that Alex Ovechkin can be compared to several legends, such as Mario Lemieux, Phil Esposito, and Howie Morenz. All three of these greats have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Chances of Ovechkin joining them? Pretty high, considering he’s showing no signs of slowing down as he works to finish, and hopefully extend, his 13 year contract with the Caps.
Three-time NHL All-Star Henrik Lundqvist was picked up in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL draft by the New York Rangers – the team he remains with today. Lundqvist received his nickname “King Henrik” from fans who witnessed his greatness during his rookie season, where he boasted incredible on ice stats.
During his time in the Big Apple, Lundqvist made a name for himself at Madison Square Garden. The stats he put out throughout his rookie season earned him a spot on the 2005–2006 NHL All-Rookie Team. The King was also named the 2011–2012 Vezina Trophy winner for being the top goalie in the league. He is the second current active goalie leader for games played, wins, shutouts, and minutes.
Lundqvist’s play style and stats are similar to other NHL greats, such as the likes of Tony Esposito, Curtis Joseph, and Dominik Hasek. Two of these three legendary goalies have been inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame. The Rangers have made sure the King will be around for a very long time they offered him a seven year contract extension in 2013. He has more than enough time to extend his legacy in the city that never sleeps.
Whether you’re a Jagr, Ovechkin, or Lundqvist fanatic, make sure to stock up on their newest apparel. To enable you to support the legend of your choice, Gartsdesigns has you covered in NHL apparel.