The National Hockey League – From Humble Beginnings to the Height of Popularity

The National Hockey League or the NHL, as it is known today has its roots in its predecessor, the National Hockey Association or the NHA and its dissolution in the year 1917. The problems stemmed from a dispute with between the Toronto Blue Shirts and the three other major teams in the association, the Montreal Canadiens, the Montreal Wanderers and the Ottawa Senators and although there were attempt to resolve the dispute, the owner of the Blue Shirts, Eddie Livingstone refused to see reasons and the other teams as well as the Quebec Bulldogs decided to suspend the NHA and form a new breakaway association, which is now known as the NHL.

Although the Bulldogs were a member of the NHL, they did not participate in any competition for the next two years and in an effort to make up for one team, the Toronto Arena Gardens owners formed a new team to compete with the three other members. In spite of the fact that the NHL was considered as only a temporary measure, Livingstone and his refusal to bow down to reason led the owners of the four franchises to meet and decide on suspending the NHA permanently just after a year.

Into the first few years of the fledgling NHL, its major competitors were the Western Canada Hockey League and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the rivalry between these three associations ranged from poaching players to vying for the Stanley Cup. The Boston Bruins was the first American team to be incorporated into the NHL when in expanded into the United States of America in 1924 and by the end of the 1926 season, the NHL had ten teams competing with teams from Northeasters United States and the Great Lakes region joining the Quebec Bulldogs and the teams from Montreal and Toronto.

It was around this time that the other associations began to fold and the NHL emerged as the sole association vying for the prestigious Stanley Cup. The NHL also tried to improve the standards of the game by bringing innovative systems, equipment, etc and made the game more and more viewer friendly and competitive. The NHL started the All Star games as part of a charity measure for the families of players Howie Morenz and Ace Bailey, both of whom met with accidents on the ice. Although Morenz eventually succumbed to his injuries, this gesture on part of the NHL laid the grounds for a post season All Star game that is played even to this day.

By the time of The Great Depression and the Second World War, the NHL was reduced to six teams with many teams folding due to lack of funds and a fan base but the NHL itself managed to survive and with the expansion into newer territories, garnered enough support to become the second most famous sport in the United States of America and the national sports in Canada today and the NHL is one of the most famous competitions in the world now.

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