The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal is pleased to play host to the National Hockey League on November 17 to celebrate the NHL’s 100th anniversary. We will take a look back at the history of the league and its impact on the city.
The origins of the NHL
The National Hockey League was born on November 26, 1917, at Montréal’s Windsor Hotel. At the time, representatives of the National Hockey Association gathered to decide on the future of their league.
At the beginning of the 1917-1918 season, the NHL had four teams in its ranks: the Montréal Canadiens, the Montréal Wanderers, the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Arenas. By the end of the 1930-1931 season, the league had expanded, and ten teams vied for the Stanley Cup.
But with the arrival of the Great Depression, the teams started experiencing serious financial difficulty: the Ottawa Senators – one of the founding teams – was forced into bankruptcy.
The six original teams (1942-1967)
Between bankruptcies and the Second World War, the NHL had just six teams in 1942 (Montréal, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Boston and New York). They are often considered the league’s six original teams.
During the 1960s, the league expanded and took on new teams to counter the rise of the Western Hockey League. Six new teams joined the NHL. The league underwent subsequent expansion, and it now has 31 franchises, with the addition of Las Vegas this season.
Montréal: a hockey town
The National Hockey League was therefore founded here in Montréal 100 years ago. Its creation is testimony to our city’s importance and influence in the world of hockey.
At the time, the city had two teams: the Montréal Wanderers (which folded in January 1918 after a fire at their rink) and the Montréal Canadiens. In 1924, Montréal’s anglophone community mobilized to form its own team, leading to the Montréal Maroons. With the Canadiens representing francophones, the history of the two teams echoed the history of Montréal. But it was a very lucrative rivalry for the city!
The Maroons were forced to disband in 1939 because of the economic situation of the times. The Montréal Canadiens became the sole team representing the city. It is the oldest professional hockey team in the world, founded in 1909, and the most decorated team in the history of the NHL.
As such, the Canadiens is one of the city’s best known businesses and an economic driver for many businesses. The team and the sport contribute to the vitality of downtown Montréal and the tourism economy and are an incredible calling card for the city. The Habs give Montréal incredible visibility across Canada, the U.S. and around the world.
The Habs are an integral part of the culture of Montréal and Québec. Since the team was created, it has kept the attention and lifted the hearts of Quebecers. In victory and in defeat, the team makes headlines and news reports, attracting thousands of people night after night, to unite Quebecers under a single banner.
To take part in the Chamber event marking the 100th anniversary of the NHL, click here.