Tuesday, September 9, 2014

History of NHL Relocation

Since the league's inaugural season in 1917, the NHL has presided over the relocation of thirteen teams, four prior to the cementing of the Original Six in 1942 and the remaining seven clubs commencing in the mid-1970s.

The chart below shows each instance of the relocation of a NHL team, sorted by year, old team name and new team name.

Year       Old Team Name New Team Name
1920 Quebec Bulldogs Hamilton Tigers
1925 Hamilton Tigers New York Americans*#
1930 Pittsburgh Pirates Philadelphia Quakers#
1934 Ottawa Senators St. Louis Eagles#
1976        California Golden Seals        Cleveland Barons#
1976 Kansas City Scouts Colorado Rockies
1980 Atlanta Flames Calgary Flames
1982 Colorado Rockies New Jersey Devils
1993 Minnesota North Stars Dallas Stars
1995 Quebec Nordiques       Colorado Avalanche
1996 Winnipeg Jets Phoenix Coyotes*
1997 Hartford Whalers       Carolina Hurricanes
2011 Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets

* Team was victim of NHL Renaming
# Team was victim of NHL Contraction


As indicated by the footnotes above, several teams have endured change in the form of renaming and contraction. The number of NHL teams and regular season games played by year may be found here.

Seven active NHL teams are a product of relocation (Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets).  The current record for the most relocations by a single NHL team is two, held jointly by the Quebec Bulldogs (Hamilton Tigers, New York Americans) and Kansas City Scouts (Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils). Only twice has a relocated club carried their team name to the new town (Flames, Stars).

The most recent NHL team relocation saw Atlanta lose their second team in 31 years (Flames 1980, Thrashers 2011) and Winnipeg land their second club in 32 years (Jets 1979, Jets 2011). The next change of address in the NHL is scheduled for 2015-2016 NHL season when the New York Islanders move a mere 27 miles west from Uniondale to Brooklyn.

Earlier this week the Glendale counsel voted 4-3 to keep the Coyotes for five more years, narrowly averting a relocation of the club to Seattle or Quebec City.  While the NHL prefers expansion over relocation owing to the spectacular fees for owners, the continued financial struggles of several Sun Belt squads may yield more relocation in the years to come.

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