Teams

The National Hockey League originated in 1917 with four Canadian teams, which after a tumultous first quarter century, found stability in the Original Six era spanning 1942Ц1967 with four franchises in the United States joining two Canadian clubs. Through a sequence of team expansions, reductions, and relocations the NHL currently consists of 30 teams, 23 of which are based in the United States and seven in Canada. The Montreal Canadiens are the most successful franchise with 24 Stanley Cup championships (23 as an NHL team, 1 as an NHA team). Of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, the Montreal Canadiens are only surpassed in the number of championships by the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball, who have three more. The next most successful franchise is the Toronto Maple Leafs with 13 Stanley Cup championships, but they have not won one since 1967. The Detroit Red Wings, with 11 Stanley Cup championships, are the most successful American franchise. The longest streak of winning the Stanley Cup in consecutive years is five, held by the Montreal Canadiens from 1955Ц56 to 1959Ц60; the New York Islanders (1980Ц1983) and the Montreal Canadiens (1976Ц1979) have four-year championship streaks.[81] The 1977

edition of the Montreal Canadiens, the second of four straight Stanley Cup champions, was named by ESPN as the second greatest sports team of all-time.[82] Of all the major leagues in North America, the NHL is the only league to field teams that play in two countries' capital cities, Ottawa, Ontario and Washington, D.C. The current league organization divides the teams into two conferences: the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each conference has three divisions, and each division has five teams. The current organization has roots in the 1998Ц99 season when a league realignment added two divisions to bring the total number of divisions to six; the current team alignment began with the 2000Ц01 season when the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets joined the league as expansion teams. Sixteen of the NHL's thirty teams are located in the Eastern Time Zone. Currently, the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets are the only Eastern Time teams in the Western Conference, and Winnipeg is the only non-Eastern Time team in the Eastern Conference (an alignment resulting from the franchise's late move out of Atlanta). The NHLPA denied consent for a conference realignment for the 2012-13 season on January 6, 2012.