How many times has the NHL added teams?

Updated July 26, 2021 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

So Seattle just got a new hockey team, the Seattle Kraken. And just recently we had the Las Vegas Golden Knights. How many times has the NHL added teams?

The Answer:

So like a lot of sporting leagues, the NHL adds new teams and moves around old ones. A lot. Since the founding of the NHL in 1917, they have added new teams 18 times. That's not including the 12 times teams have moved or markedly changed their branding.

In the early years, the league grew and shrunk drastically over several decades. It eventually shrunk down to a stable roster of six  teams in the 1940s. The "Original Six" lasted for 25 seasons (although they're not original members aside from the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs). The league expanded dramatically starting in the 1970s.

It might seem like recent changes have been frequent because the NHL was uncharacteristically stable during the 2000s. After expanding 5 times during the 1990s, the league added no new teams from 2000-2017. Not only that, but only one franchise moved cities during this time period. A whole generation of hockey fans grew up in an era of no changes only to now be met with two back-to-back expansions.

For completion's sake, the league has actually lost teams six times during its history. The Montreal Wanderers, a founding team, dropped out because their stadium burned down. The Ottawa Senators, another founding team, left the league--they then rejoined, moved to St. Louis, and collapsed. A new Senators team was then founded decades later.

-The Editors

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