Who Are the Original Six of the NHL?

Teams That Made up the National Hockey League From 1942 to 1967

Walt Tkaczuk and Keith Magnuson
Walt Tkaczuk of the NY Rangers and Keith Magnuson of the Chicago Black Hawks. Melchior DiGiacomo / Getty Images

The "Original Six" are the teams that made up the National Hockey League from 1942 to 1967 when the league expanded from six to 12 teams. The name isn't really accurate, however. 

NHL membership fluctuated throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Teams like the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Pirates, Montreal Maroons and New York Americans came and went in the years prior to 1942, and they were around concurrently with one or more of the original six, all of which were founded well before 1942. The Original Six label appears to have gained currency with the league's expansion in 1967 and in the years following. They're said to be the following teams, listed from the oldest to the youngest. 

Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens were founded in 1909. They've been around longer than any other team, so they do have dibs on being "original." They were part of the National Hockey Association until 1917, then the earlier version of the NHL through 1946. They've amassed 24 Stanley Cup victories throughout their long history and they set a record in 1993 with 10 overtime victories in a row in a playoff year. Fifty former Canadiens players have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as of 2017.

Toronto Maple Leafs 

The Maple Leafs were originally the Toronto Arenas when they were founded in 1917, then they were the Toronto St. Pats for a while from 1919 through 1927. They were a hockey dynasty through the 1940s and until 1951, winning several Stanley Cups before a stretch of winless years followed. Then they bounced back in 1962, winning another Stanley Cup, then their 13th Stanley Cup overall in 1967. They made the playoffs in several seasons after that but haven't won the Cup since.  

Boston Bruins

Founded in 1924, the Boston Bruins are the oldest U.S. team. The "Big Bad Bruins" were one of the best in the league from the late 1960s well into the 1980s. They've made it to the playoffs three times since the 2012-13 season and have won the Cup six times overall. 

Detroit Red Wings 

The Red Wings started out as the Detroit Cougars in 1921, making them the second oldest American team. As of 2016, they'd won more Stanley Cups than any other U.S. team—11 in all. They've won their division 19 times and their conference six times, and have skated their way to their playoffs 64 times since their inception. 

New York Rangers 

Founded in 1925, it took the Rangers only two years to win their first Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, the team subsequently went on to endure one of the longest stretches without a championship win—a total of 54 years in all which didn't end until they won the 1994 Stanley Cup. Before this victory, they nabbed their last Cup in 1940, thus the "Curse of 1940." They've been champions four times overall. 

Chicago Blackhawks

The Black Hawks—that's right, two words—were founded in 1926. They became the Blackhawks in 1986, unless, of course, you're from Chicago, in which case you probably just call them the Hawks. They've won six Stanley Cups, most recently in 2015. They finished with the most points of any NHL team in 1991 and 2013 and were awarded the President's Trophy