National Hockey League

National Hockey League

The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States. Headquartered in New York City, the NHL is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.

The league was organized on November 26, 1917, in Montreal, Canada, during World War I after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909.  It started with four teams and, through a series of expansions, contractions, and relocations, the league is now composed of 30 active franchises. After a labour dispute that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004–05 season, the league resumed play under a new collective bargaining agreement that included a salary cap. In 2009, the NHL enjoyed record highs in terms of sponsorships, crowds and television audiences.

The NHL draws many highly skilled players from all over the world and currently has players from about 20 different countries.  Although Canadians have historically constituted the majority of the players in the NHL, over the past four plus decades the percentages of American and European trained players have increased both because of the NHL's continued expansion from six to thirty clubs since 1967, and the increased availability of highly skilled European players, especially from former Eastern Bloc countries.

The NHL Board of Governors is the ruling and governing body of the NHL. In this context, each NHL team is a member of the NHL, and each member appoints a Governor (usually the owner of the club), and two alternates to the Board. The NHL Board of Governors exists to establish the policies of the NHL, and to uphold its constitution. Some of the responsibilities of the NHL Board of Governors include:

  • review and approve any rule changes to the game
  • hiring and firing of the NHL commissioner
  • review and approve the purchase, sale, or relocation of any member club.
  • review and approve the salary caps for member clubs.
  • review and approve any changes to the structure of the game schedule


The chief executive of the NHL is the commissioner, Gary Bettman.  

To get the latest information on the National Hockey League, please visit www.nhl.com