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.
Two years ago 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.
* See also History of NHL Expansion.