Original four NHL teams! What do you know about them? Original six or original four? Curious? Here is a detailed guide for you! Together we’ll dig into the history of the foundation of the NHL.
Table of Contents
The Original Four NHL Teams
The NHL came into being on November 22nd, 1917. Earlier, there were only four teams with which the league started. These four teams were:
- Montreal Wanderers (1917 – 1918)
- Montreal Canadiens (1917 – present)
- Toronto Arenas (1917 – 1919)
- Ottawa Senators (1917 – 1934)
The fifth team, the Quebec Bulldogs, remained inactive and never participated in any games.
Before the foundation of the NHL, there existed a National Hockey Association. The Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, and Ottawa Senators were already under the umbrella of the NHA and played as professional teams.
After disputes with the owner of the Toronto franchise in the NHA, David Livingston, the other three owners formed the National Hockey League. These three teams were incorporated into the NHL, which later became four after the entry of the Toronto Arenas.
Who were the Original Four, and What Happened to Them?
Today three out of the original teams are no more existing. Only the Montreal Canadiens are left in their original format. We will look at all four teams and see the changes that the NHL and the team underwent.
1 – Montreal Wanderers 1917-1918
Out of the four original teams of the NHL, two belonged to Montreal; the Montreal Wanderers and the Montreal Canadiens. The Montreal Wanderers were formed in 1903. They were an extremely efficient team and had already played many games before entering the NHL. They had won four Stanley Cups, and several players from them got into the Hall of Fame, Lester Patrick, and Art Ross.
Even though the Montreal Wanderers had been an exceptional team, they couldn’t perform well in the NHL and lost many seasons and many players to other teams. After playing the first NHL season, the Montreal Wanderers were folded. They only won their first game of the season against Toronto 10-9 and lost the next three games.
Finally, when their Westmount arena burnt down on January 2nd, 1918, the Wanderers shut down their workings and dispersed their players to the other three NHL teams.
2 – Montreal Canadiens 1917-Present
The Montreal Canadiens are among the most successful NHL teams and a highly professional sports franchise. They are the only ones who have successfully stood the test of time and remained in the NHL from 1917 to today without any changes.
They were formed in 1909 under the NHA to represent French-speaking Montreal. They played their first season at the Westmount arena along with the Wanderers. When the Westmount arena burnt down in 1918, the Montreal Canadiens moved to another stadium.
In the first season in the NHL, they gave a good performance but lost against Toronto by 10-7 in the NHL championship. They have also won the most significant number of Stanley Cups, 24 from 1916 to 1993.
3 – Toronto Arenas 1917-1919
The Toronto Arenas was just like the Toronto club of the NHA, but they were now owned by the Toronto Arena company and not the NHA owner David Livingston. Their former name was the Blues or the Blue Shirts. They started being called Arenas in the 1918-1919 season.
They started as a professional team and negated the argument that hockey should be played at the amateur level. They also created positive goodwill for the new hockey era in the NHL. The Toronto Arenas had a superb start in the NHL and won the NHL championship against the Montreal Canadiens 10-7. They also won the Stanley Cup against the Pacific Coast Hockey Association’s Vancouver Millionaires by 3-2.
They had won 13 Stanley Cups, the last one in 1967. In 1919, the Toronto Arenas changed its name to St. Patrick’s, then finally to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
4 – Ottawa Senators 1917-1934
The Ottawa Senators was founded in 1883 as the Ottawa Hockey Club. They changed the name to the Senators in 1908. They have won eleven Stanley Cups, four of them with the NHL. The current Ottawa Senators were formed in 1992. Both are separate teams.
The team’s start didn’t go well in the NHL as they lost many players to the Great War, but later they became the most dominant NHL team and won the Stanley Cups of 1920, 1921, and 1923.
The Senators started facing financial issues when the NHL expanded into the US. They even sold some of their best players for cash flow. They also had to take the 1931 season off due to debt and finally relocated to St. Louis in 1934.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who were the Quebec Bulldogs?
When the NHL started in 1917, Quebec Bulldogs became part of the NHL. Despite being part of the NHL, they couldn’t play in the first season.
This is because they had trouble forming a team since it was the time when the Great War was going on. Due to the circumstances, they were unable to complete the roster. Their players were loaned to the other franchises. Later, they took part in the second season but soon relocated to Hamilton in 1920.
I thought there was an Original Six, not Four.
Usually, we say that there are six NHL teams. The NHL was founded in 1917. When talking about the six teams, the teams referred to are:
– Montreal Canadiens (1917)
– Toronto Maple Leafs (1927 (previously the Toronto Arenas 1917-19, then the Toronto St. Patrick’s 1919-27)
– Boston Bruins (1924)
– New York Rangers (1926)
– Chicago Blackhawks (1926)
– Detroit Red Wings (1932)
These six are the only teams that have played 25 seasons in the NHL from 1942-43 until 1967, after which the NHL was expanded to 12 leagues. Other franchises also kept on being added to the NHL, but they didn’t stay and were folded.
And this is all about a comprehensive history of the original 4 NHL teams and their journey in the NHL. Happy Learning!