The National Hockey League (NHL) is considered as one of the premier ice hockey leagues in world. It is one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States. It was established in 1917 and is at present composed of 30 teams. The oldest professional sports trophy in North America, the Stanley Cup, is awarded each year to the NHL champion. The league is led by the Montreal Canadiens in number of championship wins.
The NHL was formed in 1917 from the National Hockey Association in Quebec, Canada. Countries that participate in the NHL include the United States of America and Canada. The league started with 4 teams and through a series of contractions, expansions and relocations, brought the league to a number of 30 at present. 24 of these teams are from the United States while 6 are based in Canada. A labor dispute led to the cancellation of the 2004-2005 season. The league, however, has since made a comeback.
The league is divided into the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each is subdivided into three. The Western Conference is divided into Central, Northern and Pacific while the Eastern Conference is divided into Atlantic, Northeast and Southeast. The NHL is the only major league team that plays in the two countries’ capitals.
Originally dominated by Canadian players, since hockey as a sport originated in Canada and so did the league, the NHL has since then acquired a larger number of American teams. They also attract talented international players and players from around 20 different countries participate in the league.
The Montreal Canadiens holds the record for the most Stanley Cup championship wins with 24. The team is followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs with 13 and then by the Detroit Red Wings with 11. The Red Wings was the Stanley Cup winners in 2008.