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Volume 20 No. 42
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Franchise footprint

The full list of new NHL franchises, relocations and closures


The Vegas Golden Knights are scheduled to begin play this fall, bringing the NHL to 31 teams. Here's a look at the league's history of expansion.

Year Franchise growth
1917 The Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers and Ottawa Senators leave the National Hockey Association to join the new NHL; the Toronto Arenas* also are formed for the NHL's inaugural season.
1919 The Quebec Bulldogs were an NHA club that technically joined the NHL in 1917 but did not play for the league's first two seasons.
1924 The Boston Bruins (the league's first U.S.-based club) and Montreal Maroons are formed, as the league expands to six clubs. The Maroons were created to attract the city's English-speaking hockey fans and to provide a rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens' francophone fan base.
1925 Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Americans
1926 Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Cougars^ and New York Rangers (who become co-tenants at MSG with the Americans). After the Americans folded in 1942, the NHL would remain a six-team league until 1967 comprised of the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Bruins, Red Wings, Rangers and Black Hawks (who morphed to the one-word nickname Blackhawks in 1986).
1967 The NHL doubles in size, adding six teams during what remains the largest single expansion in U.S. professional sports history: the California Seals (later renamed the Oakland Seals and then the California Golden Seals), Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues.
1970 Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks
1972 New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames
1974 Washington Capitals and Kansas City Scouts
1979 Four former World Hockey Association franchises join the league: the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets, bringing the NHL to 21 teams.
1991 San Jose Sharks
1992 Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning
1993 Florida Panthers and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (renamed the Anaheim Ducks in 2006)
1998 Nashville Predators
1999 Atlanta Thrashers
2000 Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild

* Were the Toronto Arenas from 1917-1919 and the Toronto St. Patricks from 1919-1927; have been the Maple Leafs since 1927
^ Were the Detroit Cougars from 1926-1930 and the Detroit Falcons from 1930-1932; have been the Red Wings since 1932
Source: SportsBusiness Journal research


Team Seasons Relocated to
Ottawa Senators 1917-1934 St. Louis Eagles
Quebec Bulldogs 1919-1920 Hamilton Tigers
Hamilton Tigers 1920-1925 New York Americans
Pittsburgh Pirates 1925-1930 Philadelphia Quakers
California Golden Seals 1967-1976 Cleveland Barons
Kansas City Scouts 1974-1976 Colorado Rockies
Cleveland Barons^^ 1976-1978 Minnesota North Stars
Atlanta Flames 1972-1980 Calgary Flames
Colorado Rockies 1976-1982 New Jersey Devils
Minnesota North Stars 1967-1993 Dallas Stars
Quebec Nordiques 1979-1995 Colorado Avalanche
Winnipeg Jets 1979-1996 Phoenix Coyotes
Hartford Whalers 1979-1997 Carolina Hurricanes
Atlanta Thrashers 1999-2011 Winnipeg Jets

^^ Merged with the North Stars, leaving Cleveland without a franchise
Source: SportsBusiness Journal research


Team Seasons
Montreal Wanderers 1917-1918
Montreal Maroons 1924-1938
New York Americans 1925-1942
Philadelphia Quakers 1930-1931
St. Louis Eagles 1934-1935

Source: SportsBusiness Journal research