Stanley Cup: Hurray for the Original Six
I don’t claim to be a hockey expert. Or even a fan. But when it comes to the Stanley Cup, I cheer for two entities: Canadian teams and Original Six franchises.
Which made the 2011 Cup Finals a no-lose proposition: Vancouver vs. Boston. Here’s why I like Canadian and/or Original Six franchises:
1. Canadian teams. I figure it’s Canada’s game. The sport matters more to our northern neighbors. And Canada’s had a run of bad NHL luck. Canada has lost franchises to bigger U.S. markets, though that trend was reversed the other day when the Atlanta Thrashers announced a move to Winnipeg. And no Canadian franchise has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.
2. Original Six franchises. In 1967, the NBA had 10 franchises. Major League Baseball had 20. The NFL and AFL had a combined 26 teams, heading toward their merger. And the National Hockey League had six.
That year, the NHL started catching up and fast. Hockey at the highest level doubled to 12 teams in 1967-68, and today, of course, the NHL has 30 franchises, equal to the NBA and baseball, just two behind the NFL.
For 25 years, 1942-1967, the NHL stuck with the same six franchises. The Canadiens. Toronto MapleLeafs. Detroit RedWings. Boston Bruins. Chicago Blackhawks. New York Rangers.
Then in 1967 came six expansion franchises. St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Oakland Seals. More expansion (or merger, with the World Hockey Association) came in 1970 (two franchises), 1972 (two), 1974 (two), 1979 (three), 1991 (one), 1993 (four), 1998 (one), 1999 (one), 2000 (two).
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