Explaining NHL's original six

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The Stanley Cup finals are underway, with the Boston Bruins playing the Chicago Blackhawks. Some hockey fans are excited because this is the first Stanley Cup finals since 1979 matching up two teams from the so-called Original Six.

Who are the Original Six?

The National Hockey League began playing games in 1917. At first, there were five teams: the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Quebec Bulldogs, Ottawa Senators and a team that played in the Toronto Arena that didn't have a name. They were later called the Arenas.

The NHL got off to a rough start. The Quebec Bulldogs never put a team on the ice. After six games, Westmount Arena, where the Canadiens and the Wanderers played, burned down. The Canadiens found a new home, but the Wanderers gave up. The league was down to three teams.

The league held a two-game championship playoff between the Canadiens and Toronto in 1918. Toronto won by a combined score of 10-7.

As NHL champ, Toronto challenged the champion of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, a league in the western part of Canada and the United States. Toronto defeated the Vancouver Millionaires in a five-game series to win the first NHL Stanley Cup.

The NHL added more teams in the 1920s. The Boston Bruins became the first American team in the NHL in 1924. The New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Cougars joined the NHL in 1926. The Cougars later changed their name to the Falcons and finally became the Red Wings in 1932.

Many businesses suffered during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The NHL suffered, too, losing several teams, including the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Maroons and New York Americans.

By 1942, the NHL was down to six teams and stayed that way for 25 years: the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.

The Original Six.


First Published June 17, 2013 12:00 AM


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