Oldest Teams in the NHL

11 Oldest Teams in the NHL

The National Hockey League (NHL) was founded back in 1917, after the National Hockey Association disbanded. It comprises 32 teams- 25 in the United States and 7 in Canada.

The NHL wasn’t always as big. It only had four teams in its formative years, all of which were from Canada. It eventually expanded to the United States in 1924 with the Boston Bruins as the first American team to join its ranks. The league’s membership rose to 10 teams but would eventually wax and wane as the sport still had to gain mass popularity.

From 1942 to 1967, it would have a total of six teams. The “Original Six” as they are fondly called, comprised the Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. But which one has the pedigree of longevity?

Read through the list to find out which clubs are “The Oldest Teams in the NHL.”

11. Buffalo Sabres

Year Founded: 1970
State: New York
Conference Championships: 3
President’s Trophy: 1
Division Championships: 6
Stanley Cups: 0


The name “Flyers” was the brainchild of the wife of co-owner Bill Putnam, who likened skating to flying. It was on the 11th of December 1969 when the team introduced what was to become its best-known tradition- playing a Kate Smith recording of God Save America.

As sports is an activity that is rife with superstition, it is believed that the team performs better playing the song in lieu of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ before an important game.

The team won two consecutive Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975 and has reached the finals six times.

Did You Know?

Prior to the Flyers, Philadelphia had the ‘Quakers,’ whose distinction is being the sole NHL club with the fewest games ever won in a season.


10. Los Angeles Kings

Year Founded: 1967
State: Pennsylvania
Conference Championships: 8
President’s Trophy: 0
Division Championships: 16
Stanley Cups: 2

photo source: www.nbcsports.com

The name “Flyers” was the brainchild of the wife of co-owner Bill Putnam, who likened skating to flying. It was on the 11th of December 1969 when the team introduced what was to become its best-known tradition- playing a Kate Smith recording of God Save America.

As sports is an activity that is rife with superstition, it is believed that the team performs better playing the song in lieu of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ before an important game.

The team won two consecutive Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975 and has reached the finals six times.

Did You Know?

Prior to the Flyers, Philadelphia had the ‘Quakers,’ whose distinction is being the sole NHL club with the fewest games ever won in a season.


9. Los Angeles Kings

Year Founded: 1967
State: California
Conference Championships: 3
President’s Trophy: 0
Division Championships: 1
Stanley Cups: 2

Los Angeles Kingsphoto source: www.dailyfaceoff.com

Founded on 5 June 1967, the Kings was one of the six teams that were part of the 1967 NHL expansion. For 32 years, before moving to the Crypto.Com Arena in downtown Los Angeles in 1999, the team would play its home games at the ‘Forum’ in Inglewood, California.

The Kings became synonymous to Wayne Gretzky, the greatest Hockey player ever who shaved ice with them from 1988 until 1996.

The Kings enjoyed many impressive plays in the regular season during the 1970s and early 1980s but would be thwarted by early playoff exits. Highlights in those years include vigorous goaltending by Rogie Vachon and the “Triple Crown Line” of Charlie Simmer, Dave Taylor, and Marcel Dionne who carried out an infamous upset of the Edmonton Oilers in a match that is known as the ‘Miracle on Manchester.’

The Kings had financial problems which led to bankruptcy in 1995. A period of inadequacy followed after Edward P. Roski and Anschutz Entertainment Group owner Philip Anschutz bought the franchise.

Did You Know?

It would take six years before they would break a playoff drought in the 2009–10 season. The team would eventually win two Stanley Cups in three years: over the New Jersey Devils in 2012, and the New York Rangers in 2014.


8. Pittsburgh Penguins

Year Founded: 1967
State: Pennsylvania
Conference Championships: 6
President’s Trophy: 1
Division Championships: 9
Stanley Cups: 5

Los Angeles Kingsphoto source: penslabyrinth.com

More commonly known as the ‘Pens,’ the Pittsburgh Penguins play in the National Hockey League as a member of the Eastern Conference. They used to play their home games at the Civic Arena, also known as “the Igloo” before moving to  the PPG Paints Arena in 2010.

The team was founded during the 1967 expansion and have qualified for six Stanley Cup Finals, winning the cup five times in 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, and 2017. They are joined by the Edmonton Oilers for the most Stanley Cup championships.

Owner Mario Lemiux purchased the Penguins in 1999 and brought the team out of bankruptcy. He has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame along with several former members aside from winning the Hart Memorial Trophy.

Did You Know?

Wayne Gretzky aka the ‘Great One’’s last game as a player ended with a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a well-fought game though that pushed to overtime with a score of 2-1.


7. St. Louis Blues

Year Founded: 1967
State: Missouri
Conference Championships: 1
President’s Trophy: 1
Division Championships: 10
Stanley Cups: 1

Pittsburgh Penguinsphoto source: riverfronttimes.com

The Blues are part of the Central Division in the Western Conference of the NHL. The franchise was the last of the six teams added during the 1967 NHL expansion and is named after the W.C. Handy song “Saint Louis Blues”.

James D. Norris and Arthur Wirtz, owners of rival team the Chicago Blackhawks as well as the decrepit St. Louis Arena, wanted to unload the building as a business move and petitioned the NHL to give the franchise to St. Louis over Baltimore. They were planning to establish the St. Louis hockey team, with whom they share a division, as a “lovable loser”, much like the Cubs.

The Blues have remained competitive throughout its history despite the many challenges it faced in its formative years, including near-bankruptcy.

Did You Know?

The team has the distinction of having the most Stanley Cup playoff appearances outside of the Original Six and has finally won the cup in 2019.


6. The New York Rangers

Year Founded: 1926
State: New York
Conference Championships: 2
President’s Trophy: 3
Division Championships: 7
Stanley Cups: 4

St. Louis Bluesphoto source: elitesportsny.com

The New York Rangers joined the NHL in 1926 and is one of the Original Six.

It was established by Madison Square Garden President G.I. “Tex” Rickard and was initially referred to by sports writers as “Tex’s Rangers” before finally settling with the Rangers.

They hold the distinction of being the first NHL franchise to win the Stanley Cup in 1928. They would go on to win two additional cups in 1933 and 1940. Lean years shortly followed and the Rangers entered periods of mediocrity with infrequent playoff appearances. Reorganization during much of the 1980s and the 1990s paid off as they eventually won their fourth cup.

Did You Know?

The team has had several former members inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, four of whom — Buddy O’Connor, Chuck Rayner, Andy Bathgate, and Mark Messier — have also won the Hart Memorial Trophy during their stay with the team.


5. The Chicago Blackhawks

Year Founded: 1926
State: Illinois
Conference Championships: 4
President’s Trophy: 2
Division Championships: 14
Stanley Cups: 6

photo source: sportsteamhistory.com

Founded in 1926 and part of the Original Six, owner Frederic Mclaughlin initially bought the Portland Rosebuds roster before naming the team the Black Hawks. The former World War I U.S. Army commander named the team in honor of the Sauk Indian chief who sided with the British in the war of 1812.

The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup a total of six times between 1934 and 2015.

Did You Know?

The team’s nickname was initially two words (Black Hawks) before it was officially changed to Blackhawks in 1986. It was discovered by team officials that it was originally a single compound word as written in the original NHL contract from 1926.


4. The Detroit Red Wings

Year Founded: 1926
State: Michigan
Conference Championships: 6
President’s Trophy: 6
Division Championships: 19
Stanley Cups: 11

The Chicago Blackhawksphoto source: sportsteamhistory.com

As the Western Hockey League (WHL) was rumored to be on the verge of folding in 1926, five different groups sought a team for Detroit during an NHL expansion meeting.  The league eventually approved a franchise to the Townsend-Seyburn Group of Detroit.

The new franchise purchased the players of 1925 Stanley Cup winners Victoria Cougars and adopted the Cougars nickname in honor of the now defunct franchise.

The team was eventually renamed the Detroit Falcons in 1930 before finally settling with Red Wings in 1932, after it was bought by millionaire James Norris Sr.

Did You Know?

The Cougars made the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in 1929 and won the cup in 1936. The last time the team won the cup was in 2008.


3. The Boston Bruins

Year Founded: 1924
State: Massachusetts
Conference Championships: 5
President’s Trophy: 3
Division Championships: 26
Stanley Cups: 6

The Detroit Red Wingsphoto source: bdc2020.o0bc.com

The Boston Bruins is the oldest American NHL team and has retained its name since it was founded back in 1924. Bruins is an old English term for brown bear and have won a total of six Stanley Cups.

The team would play its home games in the Boston Arena (now Matthews Arena), the world’s oldest indoor ice hockey facility (built in 1909) before moving to the Boston Gardens for 67 seasons and then finally settling in the TD Garden.

Did You Know?

The team traditionally uses “The Nutcracker” (by Pyotr Tchaikovsky) as their entrance song but has also used “Cochise” (by Audioslave), and “Joker and the Thief” (by Wolfmother) before the opening face-off.


2. The Toronto Maple Leafs

Year Founded: 1917
State: Toronto, Ontario
Conference Championships: 0
President’s Trophy: 0
Division Championships: 6
Stanley Cups: 13

The Toronto Maple Leafsphoto source: cms.nhl.bamgrid.com

Officially the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club, the team is owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, a company that owns several professional sports teams in the city. It was initially known as the Toronto Arenas before being rebranded as the Toronto St. Patricks in 1919.

It was finally renamed the Maple Leafs after it was purchased by Conn Smythe in 1927. It was one of the teams that withstood a lean period of league retrenchment during the Great Depression.

The Leafs, as they are fondly called, have amassed achievements throughout its long history — from former players and administration personnel being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame to the team winning a total of 13 Stanley Cup Championships. 

Did You Know?

Outstanding Leaf players are honored by having their jersey numbers retired by the team.


1. The Montreal Canadiens

Year Founded: 1909
State: Montreal, Quebec
Conference Championships: 8
President’s Trophy: 0
Division Championships: 24
Stanley Cups: 24

The Montreal Canadiensphoto source: sportsteamhistory.com

The Canadiens is ‘The World’s Oldest Team in the NHL.’ Founded in 1909, the team has won more times than any other franchise, earning 24 Stanley Cup championships. Its championship in the 1992-1993 season was the last time a Canadian team won the Cup.

The league moved the Canadiens to the North Division for the 2020-2021 season and only played against teams in the division in the regular season. This was due to travel restrictions at the time during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, games were played with the absence of fans to begin the season.

Did You Know?

The Canadiens were known as “Le Club de Hockey Canadien” during their first season, they also go by other nicknames — Le Canadien, Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge, La Sainte-Flanelle, Le Tricolore, Les Glorieux (or Nos Glorieux), Le CH, Le Grand Club, Les Plombiers and Les Habitants, and “Habs”.

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