One era that holds a special place in the hearts of hockey enthusiasts is the era of the Original Six.
The Original Six refers to the six teams that made up the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1942 until the league’s expansion in 1967.
The Original Six hockey teams are the:
- Boston Bruins
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Detroit Red Wings
- Montreal Canadiens
- New York Rangers, and
- Toronto Maple Leafs
Below we look at the history, impact, and enduring legacy of these iconic hockey teams.
The Birth of the Original Six
The Original Six era began in 1942 when the Brooklyn Americans, one of the NHL’s founding teams, suspended operations due to financial difficulties.
This left the league with only six teams, which would remain unchanged for the next 25 years.
The teams that comprised the Original Six were not only geographically diverse but also represented some of the most passionate hockey markets in North America.
The Boston Bruins were one of the Original Six teams and have a storied history in the NHL.
Founded in 1924, the Bruins quickly became a force to be reckoned with, winning their first Stanley Cup in 1929.
Led by legendary players such as Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, the Bruins have had a lasting impact on the sport.
The Chicago Blackhawks have been a part of the NHL since its inception in 1926.
The team has a loyal fan base and has enjoyed success throughout its history.
The Blackhawks have won six Stanley Cups, including three during the Original Six era.
Notable players like Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull have left an indelible mark on the franchise.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are one of the most successful franchises in NHL history.
Founded in 1926, the Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cups, including four during the Original Six era.
The team’s success can be attributed to the contributions of legendary players like Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman.
The Montreal Canadiens are the most successful team in NHL history, with a record 24 Stanley Cup championships.
The Canadiens dominated the Original Six era, winning the Stanley Cup 10 times during that period.
The team’s success can be attributed to a combination of talented players, strong coaching, and a passionate fan base.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have a long and storied history in the NHL.
Founded in 1926, the Rangers have won four Stanley Cups, including one during the Original Six era.
The team has had its fair share of iconic players, such as Mark Messier and Brian Leetch, who have helped shape the franchise’s legacy.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs, formerly known as the Toronto Arenas and Toronto St. Patricks, have a rich history in the NHL.
The team has won 13 Stanley Cups, including five during the Original Six era.
The Maple Leafs have a passionate fan base and have produced legendary players like Darryl Sittler and Mats Sundin.
The Impact of the Original Six Era
The Original Six era had a profound impact on the sport of hockey and its popularity in North America.
During this time, the NHL solidified its position as the premier professional hockey league and laid the foundation for future expansion and growth.
Rivalries and Intense Competition
One of the defining characteristics of the Original Six era was the intense rivalries between the teams.
The close proximity of the cities and the frequency of matchups created fierce competition on the ice.
These rivalries, such as the Bruins vs. Canadiens and the Blackhawks vs. Red Wings, captivated fans and added an extra level of excitement to the game.
Legendary Players and Dynasties
The Original Six era produced some of the greatest players in NHL history.
From Bobby Orr’s dominance with the Bruins to Maurice Richard’s scoring prowess with the Canadiens, these players became household names and helped popularize the sport.
Additionally, several teams, such as the Canadiens and the Red Wings, established dynasties during this era, winning multiple championships and solidifying their place in hockey history.
Television and Broadcasting
The Original Six era coincided with the rise of television and broadcasting, which played a crucial role in popularizing hockey.
The increased exposure through televised games allowed fans across North America to witness the skill and excitement of the sport.
This exposure helped grow the fan base and laid the groundwork for future expansion into new markets.
The Enduring Legacy
Although the Original Six era came to an end with the NHL’s expansion in 1967, its legacy continues to shape the sport of hockey today.
The rivalries, legendary players, and passionate fan bases established during this time still resonate with fans and are an integral part of hockey culture.
Many of the rivalries that originated during the Original Six era are still alive and well today.
The matchups between the Bruins and Canadiens or the Blackhawks and Red Wings still evoke strong emotions and draw large audiences.
These rivalries serve as a reminder of the intense competition and history of the sport.
The Original Six era holds a special place in hockey history.
It represents a time when the sport was consolidated into a tight-knit group of teams, creating a sense of tradition and nostalgia.
The accomplishments and stories from this era are celebrated and remembered by fans and players alike.
Impact on Expansion
The success and popularity of the Original Six teams played a significant role in the NHL’s decision to expand into new markets.
The enduring legacy of these teams demonstrated the potential for hockey to thrive in different cities, leading to the creation of new franchises and the growth of the league.
NHL History: The Original Six Era
Q&A – Original Six Hockey Teams
1. What are the Original Six hockey teams?
The Original Six hockey teams are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
2. When did the Original Six era begin and end?
The Original Six era began in 1942 when the Brooklyn Americans suspended operations and ended in 1967 with the NHL’s expansion.
3. How many Stanley Cups did each Original Six team win?
- Boston Bruins: 6 Stanley Cups
- Chicago Blackhawks: 6 Stanley Cups
- Detroit Red Wings: 11 Stanley Cups
- Montreal Canadiens: 24 Stanley Cups
- New York Rangers: 4 Stanley Cups
- Toronto Maple Leafs: 13 Stanley Cups
4. Who were some of the legendary players from the Original Six era?
Some legendary players from the Original Six era include Bobby Orr, Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Stan Mikita, and Jean Beliveau.
5. What impact did the Original Six era have on the popularity of hockey?
The Original Six era solidified the NHL’s position as the premier professional hockey league and helped popularize the sport through intense rivalries, legendary players, and increased television exposure.
6. Are any of the Original Six teams still successful today?
Yes, several Original Six teams continue to be successful today.
The Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins have both won Stanley Cups in recent years.
7. How did the Original Six era shape the future of the NHL?
The success and popularity of the Original Six teams played a significant role in the NHL’s decision to expand into new markets, leading to the growth and expansion of the league.
8. Are any of the Original Six rivalries still relevant today?
Yes, many of the rivalries that originated during the Original Six era are still relevant today.
The matchups between the Bruins and Canadiens or the Blackhawks and Red Wings continue to captivate fans.
9. Why is the Original Six era considered significant in hockey history?
The Original Six era is considered significant in hockey history because it represents a time of tradition, intense competition, and the rise of legendary players.
It laid the foundation for the growth and popularity of the sport.
10. How did television and broadcasting impact the Original Six era?
Television and broadcasting played a crucial role in popularizing hockey during the Original Six era.
The increased exposure through televised games helped grow the fan base and expand the reach of the sport.
11. How many teams were in the NHL before the Original Six era?
Before the Original Six era, the NHL had ten teams.
However, the league faced financial difficulties during the Great Depression, leading to the suspension of several teams.
12. Did any of the Original Six teams relocate or change their names?
No, none of the Original Six teams relocated or changed their names during the era.
However, the Toronto Maple Leafs were previously known as the Toronto Arenas and Toronto St. Patricks.
13. How did the Original Six era contribute to the growth of hockey culture?
The Original Six era contributed to the growth of hockey culture by establishing intense rivalries, producing legendary players, and creating a sense of tradition and nostalgia that still resonates with fans today.
14. What is the lasting legacy of the Original Six era?
The lasting legacy of the Original Six era includes continued rivalries, historical significance, and its impact on the expansion and growth of the NHL.
15. Are there any documentaries or books about the Original Six era?
Yes, there are several documentaries and books that delve into the history and impact of the Original Six era.
Some notable examples include “The Original Six: How Hockey’s Destiny Was Shaped” by Lew Freedman and “The NHL: 100 Years of On-Ice Action and Boardroom Battles” by D’Arcy Jenish.
The Original Six era of hockey holds a special place in the hearts of fans and players alike.
The intense rivalries, legendary players, and passionate fan bases established during this time continue to shape the sport today.
The impact of the Original Six era can be seen in the continued relevance of the teams, the growth of the NHL, and the enduring legacy of hockey culture.
As the sport continues to evolve, it is important to remember and celebrate the history and traditions that were established during this iconic era.