blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: 2017

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Today In NHL History - 2004 NHL Lockout Begins

On September 16th in 2004, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the 2004-2005 season would not proceed as scheduled owing to a deadlock in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. What would have been the NHL's 88th offering was officially canceled on February 16, 2005. The dispute was ultimately resolved on July 22, 2005.
At the heart of the 310 day 2004 NHL Lockout was an owner proposed mechanism to link league revenues to player salaries in an attempt to lower the alleged 76% of gross revenues attributed to player costs and $273 million in collective owner losses during the 2002-2003 season. NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow disputed these financial findings and refused to allow a cap to be applied against player salaries.

In the end, a cap was born and a season lost marking the first time since 1919 without a Stanley Cup champion. Though the 1992 NHLPA strike and 1994 NHL Lockout disrupted play, never before had a North American major sports league lost an entire season to such strife. Among the side effects of the stalled season was a temporary global redistribution of NHL talent and a unique lottery system for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft to direct Sidney Crosby and others to deserving teams.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Today In NHL History - Jared McCann Hugs Ref

On September 13th in 2015, Vancouver Canucks prospect Jared McCann scored his first goal for the pro club during an all-rookie match-up against the Winnipeg Jets during the 2015 Young Stars Classic in Penticton, BC.

What made the marker memorable was McCann's election to celebrate with the referee, engaging him in a long embrace and a pat on the head before his teammates arrived to rejoice the milestone.
When asked afterwards why he hugged the referee after whistling a wrist shot past netminder goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, McCann remarked "he looked lonely over there, he looked like he needed a hug". The Canucks added three more goals to beat the Jets rookie quad 4-1.
That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Anson Carter Snubs Canucks

On September 13th in 2006, Anson Carter rejected a one year $1.7 million offer from the Vancouver Canucks to skate with future Art Ross winning twins Henrik (2010) and Daniel Sedin (2011) on the 'Brothers Line', electing instead to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets for one year at $2.5 million.

Having led the team in goals (33) and earned the club's Most Exciting Player award (2006), Carter was confident he had a home in Vancouver and allegedly demanded a three year contract worth $9 million. The signings of the Sedins, Roberto Luongo and Willie Mitchell, however, depleted the club's resources for Carter.

The top line vacancy was eventually awarded to Alex Burrows who thrived with the Sedins and succeeded Anson as the Canucks Most Exciting Player for three consecutive seasons (2008, 2009, 2010).

Carter's tenure with Columbus lasted 54 games (27 pts) before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2008 5th round pick (Tomas Kubalik). Carter collected just one point in his 10 games with Carolina, skating only 64 games in what would be his final NHL season. Despite earning an invite to the Edmonton Oilers training camp the following season, the right winger failed to crack the roster.

And like that, he's gone.

Anson Carter's ten season NHL career spanning eight different teams (Capitals, Bruins, Oilers, Rangers, Kings, Canucks, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes) was over at the age of 32. One can only wonder what might have been if Carter had renewed with the Canucks and skated with the Sedins as they entered their prime playing days. I wonder if player agent Pat Brisson overplayed his hand advising Anson to chase market value when a hometown discount would have been far richer.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Today In NHL History - Heatley Trade (OTT-SJS)

On September 12th in 2009, the Ottawa Senators shipped a disgruntled Dany Heatley and a 5th round pick in the 2010 Draft (Isaac MacLeod) to the San Jose Sharks for Jonathon Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and a 2nd round pick (Kent Simpson).

The two-time 50 goal scorer (2006, 2007) and Calder winning (2002) winger publicly demanded a trade three months earlier, a mere two years into his six year $45m deal with the club, handcuffing GM Bryan Murray into settling for less than market value for his prized possession.

The washed-up Rocket Richard winner (2006) Cheechoo mustered a measly 14 points in 61 games for the Sens and was bought out of the final year of his contract which would have paid $3.5m in 2010-2011. Heatley, meanwhile, enjoyed a 10 point improvement over his prior season skating with 1997 first rounders Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

The tide of the trade finally turned in 2012 when Michalek outpointed (60pts v 53pts) and outscored (35G v 24G) Heatley at almost half the cap hit ($4.3m v $7.5m) to lead the Senators in scoring. Heatley posted his 2012 numbers for the Minnesota Wild, his third team in four years, after the Sharks swapped the winger for Martin Havlat on July 3, 2011.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick

On September 7th in 1970, Wayne Gino Odjick was born in Maniwaki, Quebec. Fighting heavyweights Dave Manson and Stu Grimson in his NHL debut, the Algonquin Assassin earned the game's first star establishing himself as a fan favorite and formidable foe.

Taken 86th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1990 NHL Draft, Odjick played in 605 games over 12 seasons with 4 teams (Canucks 444, Islanders 82, Flyers 30, Canadiens 49) collecting 2567 penalty minutes and 137 points (64G, 73A). Skating alongside best friend and offensive phenom Pavel Bure in 1993-1994 Odjick scored a career high 16 goals. Gino's most famous offensive moment for the Canucks came on a 1991 penalty shot against Calgary Flames netminder Mike Vernon.

From beating a pair of black eyes into Jeff Brown for rumored indiscretions with Kirk McLean's wife to brawling the St. Louis Blues when Glenn Anderson refused to answer the bell for spearing Bure in the eye, Odjick defended his teammates to a fault on and off the ice.

When Mark Messier and Mike Keenan chased Captain Canuck Trevor Linden out of town, Odjick was the first to set the record straight:

"He (Messier) just wants to destroy everything so he gets the power. He didn't break a sweat for the first 10 games and just waited for (former coach) Tom Renney and (former GM) Pat Quinn to get fired. He talks to ownership all the time and he's responsible for Keenan, and he's part of most of the trades. Look what happened with (ex-Canuck and current Islander) Trevor (Linden) when Keenan gave him (hell). Did (Messier) come over to him and say, 'Look, Trev, we're with you?' He didn't say a word. How can you be captain like that? How can the team be together that way? He's not with the players. He's the one who controls everything. I don't blame Keenan for what's happened. Everything he does, he does in the name of winning. But everything that . . . Messier does is for more power. They signed him to help us, but all he wanted was most of us out of there so he could bring in his own people. He just wanted to tear it apart and do it his way."

As he put it, "I never wanted to fight just to see if I was tougher than one guy. I never wanted to be known as the toughest guy in the NHL. I just wanted to be known as a guy that took care of his teammates."

Gino retired in 2002 after sustaining a concussion from an errant puck during a Montreal Canadiens practice. Today he works in Vancouver with the Musqueam Band developing the Musqueam Golf Center.  

On June 26, 2014, Gino penned a letter to fans announcing that he was in the "biggest fight of his life" battling a rare heart condition called AL amyloidosis leaving him with only months or weeks to live.
"In my heart, I will always be a Canuck and I have always had a special relationship here with the fans. Your ‘Gino, Gino’ cheers were my favourite. I wish I could hear them again. You have been amazing". 
Gino heard those cheers again just days later when thousands attended a rally staged outside Vancouver General Hospital, where he was receiving treatment, and again weeks later when he attended the dedication of his childhood rink in Manawaki, Quebec in his honor. 

Thankfully, #29 won this fight and will hear the cheers for years to come. 

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Runs Hasek.
* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Fights Blues.
* See also Today In NHL History - Odjick's Penalty Shot.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Today In NHL History - Randy Moller

On August 23rd in 1963, Randall Moller was born in Red Deer, Alberta. Raised by Lethbridge's Broncos, Randy's teenage scoring touch and fisticuffs earned him the 11th overall pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. Relegated to an enforcement role from the outset, Moller collected 1692 penalty minutes and 45 goals in 14 NHL seasons.

Today Moller makes his living calling the action as a play-by-play announcer for the Florida Panthers on Sports Talk 790. His claim to fame is incorporating fan requested pop culture references into his goal calls. What he lacks in originality he more than makes up for in enthusiasm.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Today In NHL History - Buble and Shorthouse Sing

On August 20th in 2010, Vancouver Canucks superfan Michael Bublé and play-by-play personality John Shorthouse joined the ranks of Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra tweaking Bob Hope's rendition of the 1938 Academy Award winning classic "Thanks for the Memory", this time in a touching tribute to the club's retiring colorman Tom Larscheid during a hometown sold-out stop on Bublé's Crazy Love tour.

Thanks for the memories
The dinners on the plane, all that weight I gained
Wondering when this hockey team would win another game
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memories
Pavel Bure's blazing speed, Henrik's perfect feeds
Bingo Bango Bongo, when Luongo left his feet
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memories
Your leaving is the pits, we'll all miss you to bits
My favorite call of all, was when you called bullshit
Thanks for the memories

The seeds of the performance were sewn when Bublé shared the broadcast booth with Shorthouse coloring a 7-3 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Kerrisdale kid accepted the Burnaby crooner's invitation to one day join him onstage. Eighteen months later Shorty made good on his postgame promise producing this dazzling duet.
Clearly more comfortable calling puck than singing standards, Shorthouse sweated through the serenade like a pro. The memorable performance was followed by a succinct video salutation to the 33 year veteran voice, climaxing with an appearance by the living legend himself.

In the end, it was Bublé who found the perfect words to memorialize the man: "you're a beauty Tom, you're a beauty." A fitting farewell to a beloved member of the Canucks family. How lovely it was, indeed.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Today in NHL History - Gretzky Trade (EDM-LA)

On August 9th in 1988, Oilers owner Peter Pocklington sold the greatest player in the history of the game to the Kings for two players, three picks, and millions in cash.

Considered the most storied transaction in NHL history, the move sent Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley, and Mike Krushelnyski south for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first round draft picks (1989, 1991, 1993), and $15 million. The Oilers traded the 1989 pick (Jason Miller) to New Jersey for Corey Foster and used their remaining selections to take Martin Rucinsky (1991) and Nick Stajduhar (1993).

Backlash in Canada to the barter was swift and fierce as fans showered Pocklington with death threats, labeling Gretzky a traitor and his wife Janet Jones a witch. NDP House Leader Nelson Riis went so far as to demand that the Canadian government block the trade.

Days later Jones broke Gretzky's silence clearing the record as to how the trade transpired, laying blame squarely on Pocklington's frame.

Both teams survived and even thrived with the Oilers winning without Wayne in 1990 and The Great One leading his Kings to the Finals in 1993.

The main beneficiary of the move, however, was the league. When Gretzky relocated to Los Angeles the NHL had 15 U.S. franchises, none south of Washington D.C. and only one west of St. Louis. Today that number sits at 24 with several franchises situated in the ice-melting heat of the Sun Belt. Absent Wayne's eight season stay in the Golden State it's hard to imagine such growth would have occurred.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Today In NHL History - Pronger Shanahan Trade

On July 27th in 1995, Hartford Whalers GM Jim Rutherford and St. Louis Blues GM Mike Keenan swapped second overall draft picks in Chris Pronger (1993) and Brendan Shanahan (1987), marking a rare exchange of matched talent.

Pronger's slower than expected development coupled with his rookie season bar room brawling and drunken driving led Hartford to move their baby-faced bruiser for some scoring punch in Shanahan.

Pronger remained in St. Louis for nine seasons, captaining the club for seven. Shanahan, however, left Hartford after one season in a trade sending him and Brian Glynn to the Detroit Red Wings for forward Keith Primeau, defenceman Paul Coffey, and a 1997 first-round draft pick (Nikos Tselios).

After five years working for the NHL as Vice-President of Hockey and Business Development and Chief Disciplinarian, Shanahan was named President of the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 11, 2014.  Shanny was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 11, 2013.

Several blows to the head sidelined Pronger in December 2011. He has not skated since, nor does it appear he will ever return to the game, despite being under contract with the Philadelphia Flyers through 2017. On June 27, 2015, the Flyers traded his contract to the Arizona Coyotes for salary cap purposes. Three days later, Pronger was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Despite still technically an active player, Pronger was eligible for the honor owing to his three season absence at the time of induction.
Pronger currently works for the Florida Panthers in hockey operations.

The pair played a combined 39 NHL seasons resulting in over 2,600 games, 2,000 points, 4,000 penalty minutes, and four Stanley Cup wins. Internationally, they won three Olympic Gold Medals and three World Championships for Canada.  Both are Triple Gold Club members.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Today In NHL History - Claude Lemieux

On July 16th in 1965, Claude Percy Lemieux was born in Buckingham, Quebec. Best known for his postseason success and dirty play Lemieux suited up for six teams (MTL, NJD, COL, PHO, DAL, SJS) terrorizing NHL opponents for 21 seasons.

Taken 26th in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft the feisty winger fetched four Stanley Cup wins (1986, 1995, 1996, 2000) and a Conn Smythe (1995) becoming 1 of 9 to hoist with three different teams and 1 of 11 to win in consecutive seasons with distinct clubs (NJD 1995, COL 1996). Resting 9th overall with 80 playoff goals, Lemieux thrice lit the lamp more times in the postseason than the regular season (1986, 1995, 1997).

Boasting a resume of biting (Jim Peplinski), boarding (Kris Draper), and pregame fighting (PHI v. MTL), Lemieux's vicious acts have earned him 2nd place in ESPN's Most Hated NHL Players of All Time.

In 1997, the dirty deeds of playoffs past caught up with the cheapshot francophone in a now famous brawl between the Red Wings and Avalanche featuring Darren McCarty pummeling his turtled mass.

Lemieux retired on July 8, 2009 after a one-season stint with the Sharks.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Today In NHL History - Clarence Campbell

On July 9th in 1905, Clarence Sutherland Campbell was born in Fleming, Saskatchewan. The Rhodes Scholar lawyer turned NHL referee went on to hold the league's highest post for 31 years (1946-1977) after a sojourn as a lieutenant colonel in WWII and Queen's Counsel prosecuting Nazi crimes against humanity.

Moonlighting as an official in the CAHA while lawyering at an Edmonton firm, Campbell whistled his way to the NHL. He lasted three years, witnessing Howie Morenz's career-ending broken leg and even taking a punch from Bruins' bruiser Dit Clapper, before NHL President Frank Calder stole his stripes on the urging of Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe for an allegedly under-penalized incident that bloodied Red Horner.

Calder kept Campbell in the game, however, hiring him to work in the league office though he left shortly thereafter enlisting in the Canadian Armed Forces. With Calder's passing in 1943 a reluctant Red Dutton presided until Campbell's return upon which the presidency was passed.

Major events that occurred during his tenure as NHL President include:

Campbell's accomplishments earned him a position in the Hockey Hall of Fame along with a conference (Campbell Conference) and trophy (Clarence Campbell Bowl) bearing his namesake. He died in 1984.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Today In NHL History - Lindros Trade (QUE-PHI)

On June 30th in 1992, Quebec Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut and GM Pierre Page traded 1991 draft day holdout Eric Lindros to Philadelphia.



Amidst confusion among two competing bids, arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi selected Flyers GM Russ Farwell's proposal over New York Rangers GM Neil Smith's package of Doug Weight, Tony Amonte, Alexei Kovalev, John Vanbiesbrouck, three first round draft picks, and $12 million.

The trade ultimately saw Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Chris Simon, two first-round picks (Jocelyn Thibault, Nolan Baumgartner), and $15 million going to Quebec in exchange for the inaugural Next One. The deal remains one of the most significant and lopsided trades in NHL history.

The club would later exchange Hextall for Adam Deadmarsh and package Thibault for Patrick Roy and Mike Keane, claiming two Stanley Cups as the Colorado Avalanche. The Flyers remain winless since 1975.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (NYI-FLA)

On June 24th in 2000, New York Islanders GM Mike Milbury traded Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Florida Panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. The 2000 NHL Entry Draft day play saw the Isles select goalie Rick DiPietro 1st overall ahead of future all-stars Dany Heatley (2nd), Marian Gaborik (3rd) and Henrik Lundqvist (205th), to name a few.

In response to the move Milbury surmised, "In the end, we thought the quality that DiPietro will bring is just a notch above Luongo. If we're wrong, we may have made an unbelievable mistake. It'll be bonehead city. It's my job. If we're not a better team immediately, off with my head. I've been here five years, and I'm tired of losing."

Safe to say the Isles would have been better off with future Vezina/Hart/Pearson finalist Luongo, Calder winner and two-time 50 goal scorer Heatley, and Finnish national teamer Jokinen than the trio of DiPietro, Parrish, and Kvasha. Alas, the Milbury legacy lives on and on.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo's Playoff Poop.
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo's Stick Gets Stuck.
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (FLA-VAN).
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2011 NHL Awards.
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2009 NHL Awards.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (FLA-VAN)

On June 23rd in 2006, Florida Panthers GM Mike Keenan traded Roberto Luongo, Lukas Krajicek, and a 6th round pick (Sergei Shirokov) in the next day's 2006 NHL Entry Draft to the host city's Vancouver Canucks for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen, and Alex Auld.

Both Bertuzzi (7 games) and Auld (27 games) enjoyed limited play during their one season down south while Allen (284 games) was a fixture for Florida before being traded to Carolina for forward Sergei Samsonov (20 games), skating in his final NHL season.

On September 2, 2009, Luongo signed a 12 year contract extension with Vancouver through 2022 where he's won Olympic Gold (2010), presided over two Presidents' Trophy wins (2011, 2012), been named to three NHL All-Star Games (2007, 2008, 2009), received four NHL Award nominations (Vezina 2007 & 2011, Pearson 2007, Hart 2007), captured a Jennings Trophy (2011) with Cory Schneider, set several Canucks franchise records, and authored a popular Twitter feed @strombone1.

Despite these successes, Luongo has been widely criticized for spectacular playoff losses to the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins, blamed for the Canucks failure to capture the Stanley Cup in 2011, and remains to this day a favorite whipping boy for hockey pundits everywhere.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo's Playoff Poop.
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo's Stick Gets Stuck.
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (NYI-FLA).
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2011 NHL Awards.
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2009 NHL Awards.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

NHL Minimum Wage & Maximum Wage By Year

In July of 2005, the NHL and NHLPA finalized the 2005 CBA ending a 310 day lockout that resulted in the loss of a season. The core feature of the accord was the introduction a salary cap, setting team spending limits based on league revenue and tying player salaries to such limits.

The maximum player salary was capped at 20% of the team salary cap. Meanwhile, the minimum player salary jumped 257% from $180,000 to $450,000 with fixed bumps in future years.  The chart below shows NHL minimum and maximum player salaries by year since 2005.

Year              Salary Cap     NHL Minimum     NHL Maximum      
2005-2006
$39.0m     
$450,000      
$7.8m     
2006-2007
$44.0m     
$450,000      
$8.8m     
2007-2008
$50.3m     
$475,000      
$10.06m     
2008-2009
$56.7m     
$475,000      
$11.34m     
2009-2010
$56.8m     
$500,000      
$11.36m     
2010-2011
$59.4m     
$500,000      
$11.88m     
2011-2012
$64.3m     
$525,000      
$12.86m     
2012-2013
$70.2m     
$525,000      
$14.04m     
2013-2014
$64.3m     
$550,000      
$12.86m     
2014-2015
$69.0m     
$550,000      
$13.8m     
2015-2016
$71.4m     
$575,000      
$14.3m     
2016-2017
$73.0m     
$575,000      
$14.6m     
2017-2018
$75.0m     
$650,000      
$15.0m     

The team salary cap has increased 92% since 2005 (an average of 7% per year), providing for maximum player salary to rise by the same margin. Minimum wage, on the other hand, has increased only 44% during that span (an average of 3.4% per year), half of their top earner counterparts.  Thus, while maximum salary has been tied to the spectacular increase in team salary cap, minimum salary has not. 

The chart below shows what minimum salary would be as a percentage of team salary cap, as opposed to the negotiated rate schedule.

Year                NHL Minimum    % of Cap     1.15% of Cap      
2005-2006
$450,000     
1.15%      
$450,000     
2006-2007
$450,000     
1.02%      
$506,000     
2007-2008
$475,000     
.944%      
$578,000     
2008-2009
$475,000     
.837%      
$652,000     
2009-2010
$500,000     
.880%      
$653,000     
2010-2011
$500,000     
.841%      
$683,000     
2011-2012
$525,000     
.816%      
$739,000     
2012-2013
$525,000     
.747%      
$807,000     
2013-2014
$550,000     
.816%      
$739,000     
2014-2015
$550,000     
.797%      
$793,000     
2015-2016
$575,000     
.805%      
$821,100     
2016-2017
$575,000     
.787%      
$829,500     
2017-2018
$650,000     
.867%      
$862,500     

If minimum wage had been tied to 1.15% of the team salary cap instead of anchoring it to a fixed dollar rate schedule, NHL minimum earners would have received an extra $100,000 in 2007-2008, $200,000 more in 2011-2012, and almost $300,000 more in 2012-2013. In fact, in the eleven years since the 2005 wage hike, tying it to such a percentage would have yielded an extra $2.327m for such skaters during that span, equaling an additional $193,000 each year on average.

The NHL's minimum wage is scheduled to increase in the coming years reaching $650,000 in 2017-2018, $700,000 in 2019-2020, and $750,000 in 2021-2022. The maximum player salary shall remain at 20% of team salary cap during this span.  

When the current CBA expires after the 2021-2022 season, perhaps the NHLPA should vie to tie minimum wage to a percentage of the team salary cap (with a floor of a 5% bump on prior year pay) so players at both ends of the hockey spectrum can share in increased NHL revenues. Equity for all skaters, regardless of role and talent.

* See also NHL Highest Paid Players By Year.
* See also NHL Highest Player Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also Rethinking NHL Player Salary Structure.

NHL League Size And Regular Season Length

With this week's release of the regular season schedule for the NHL's 101th season of operation (100th season of actual play), it's a good time to consider this season's offering in the historical context of the number of participating teams and regular season games played since the league's inception 101 years ago.

Years 
Games  Teams
Years
Games  Teams
1917-1918   
22
4
          1978-1979   
80
17
1918-1919
18
3
      1979-1991
80
21
1919-1924
24
4
1991-1992
80
22
1924-1925
30
6
1992-1993
84
24
1925-1926
36
7
1993-1994
84
26
1926-1931
44
10
1994-1995
48
26
1931-1932
48
8
1995-1998
82
26
1932-1935
48
9
1998-2000
82
28
1935-1938
48
8
2000-2004
82
30
1938-1942
48
7
2004-2005
0
30
1942-1946
50
6
2005-2012
82
30
1946-1949
60
6
2012-2013
48
30
1949-1967
70
6
2013-2017
82
30
1967-1968
74
12
2017-2018
82
31
1968-1970
76
12



1970-1972
78
14



1972-1974
78
16



1974-1978
80
18




Rising from 3 to 31 teams and 18 to 84 games since 1918, the NHL regular season now sits at 31 teams playing 82 times a piece for a total of 1,271 games.  Aside from three work stoppages - abbreviating, canceling and abbreviating the proceedings respectively (1994-1995, 2004-2005, 2012-2013) - and a fire finishing a team (Montreal Wanderers) part-way through the year (1917-1918), most NHL regular season schedules have been played as planned with few, if any, interruptions.

Amidst endless stories of financially troubled clubs, the league has done well to quell rumors of NHL relocation, embracing NHL expansion in Las Vegas with Quebec City and Seattle as frontrunners for the league's 32nd team to balance the conferences.  

On the heels of 2013's NHL realignment, expect regular season length to remain at 82 games for the foreseeable future in order to preserve their commitment to extended divisional play, every team visiting every rink each year, and the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar which directly influences player salaries.  In short, fans' preference for fewer regular season games appears unlikely to be realized anytime soon.

* See also Fewest And Most Games Needed to Win Stanley Cup.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Length By Days And Games.
* See also History of NHL Expansion.
* See also History of NHL Relocation.
* See also History of NHL Contraction.
* See also History of NHL Team Renaming.

History of NHL Expansion

Since the league's beginnings in 1917, the NHL has welcomed 37 teams. Of those, thirteen have relocated to a new city, eleven have changed their team name while remaining in the same city, and six have fallen on financial hard times and folded their operations

The chart below shows the history of NHL expansion by year, team name and the expansion fee levied on the buyer by the league.

YearExpansion TeamCost
1917       Montreal Canadians None
1917 Montreal Wanderers# None
1917 Ottawa Senators^# None
1917 Quebec Bulldogs^*# None
1917 Toronto Arenas* None
1924 Boston Bruins $15k
1924 Montreal Maroons# $15k (includes $11k to Canadiens)
1925 Pittsburgh Pirates^# $12k
1926 Chicago Black Hawks* $12k
1926 Detroit Cougars* $12k
1926 New York Rangers $12k
1967 California Seals*^# $2m
1967 Los Angeles Kings $2m
1967 Minnesota North Stars^ $2m
1967 Philadelphia Flyers $2m
1967 Pittsburgh Penguins $2m
1967 St. Louis Blues $2m
1970 Buffalo Sabres $6m
1970 Vancouver Canucks $6m
1972 Atlanta Flames^ $6m
1972 New York Islanders $11m (includes $5m to Rangers)
1974 Kansas City Scouts^ $6m
1974 Washington Capitals $6m
1979 Edmonton Oilers $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1979 Hartford Whalers^ $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1979 Quebec Nordiques^ $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1979 Winnipeg Jets^ $7.5m (includes $1.5m to WHA)
1991 San Jose Sharks $45m
1992 Ottawa Senators $45m
1992 Tampa Bay Lightning $45m
1993 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim*   $50m (includes $25m to Kings)
1993 Florida Panthers $50m
1998 Nashville Predators $80m
1999 Atlanta Thrashers^ $80m
2000 Columbus Blue Jackets $80m
2000 Minnesota Wild $80m
2017 Las Vegas $500m

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

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

The first five members of the NHL in 1917 gained admission without having to pay an expansion fee.  Since then, all teams have paid a fee to join the league.  Hovering between $12,000 and $15,000 in the 1920s, expansions fees jumped to $2 million in 1967 and tripled three years later in 1970 to $6 million where they remained (save surcharges to other teams and leagues) through the remainder of the decade.

After a twelve year span of a 21 team NHL, expansion began again in 1991 with fees 7.5 times higher than those paid by teams entering in the 1970s, ultimately ending up over 13.3 times by 2000. Current franchise valuations estimate the value of NHL teams ranging from $186 million (Florida Panthers) to $1.2 billion (New York Rangers).  

On June 22, 2016, the NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved a yet-to-be-named Las Vegas team as its 31st franchise. The club, coming at a cost of $500 million (6.25 times greater than the cost of it's next youngest siblings, Minnesota and Columbus from 2000) shall compete in the Pacific Division commencing in 2017. The NHL expansion draft to fill their roster is scheduled occurred on June 21, 2017.


Despite the escalating costs of purchasing a NHL team through expansion, the inflation calculator shows these teams to be more than holding their value in the terms of purchase price. This does not account for the annual operating losses for most NHL teams, which in the case of the Phoenix Coyotes resulted in losses of $54 million in 2009.

Two years ago the Glendale counsel voting 4-3 to keep the Coyotes for five more years, dashing the hopes of Seattle or Quebec City acquiring the club through relocation. Despite Quebec City being passed over today for an expansion franchise, allegedly owing to a lack of geographic balance and a weak Canadian dollarSeattle and Quebec City remain frontrunners to host the NHL's next franchise, if the league opts to expand to 32 teams.
* See also History of NHL Contraction.
* See also History of NHL Relocation.
* See also History of NHL Team Renaming.