National Hockey League (NHL) opens its first season - HISTORY
Year
1917

National Hockey League (NHL) opens its first season

On this day in 1917, four teams of the National Hockey League (NHL) play in the fledgling league’s first two games. At the time of its inception, the NHL was made up of five franchises: the Canadiens and the Wanderers (both of Montreal), the Ottawa Senators, the Quebec Bulldogs and the Toronto Arenas. The Montreal teams won two victories that first day, as the Canadiens beat Ottawa 7-4 and the Wanderers triumphed over Toronto 10-9.

The first professional ice hockey league was the International Pro Hockey League, founded in 1904 in Michigan. After it folded, two bigger leagues emerged in Canada: the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast League (PCL). In 1914, the two leagues played a championship series, and the winner was awarded the famous silver bowl donated for Canada’s amateur hockey leagues by Lord Stanley, the English governor general of Canada, in 1892. The NHA stopped operating during World War II, and after the war the five elite teams from Canada formed the NHL in its place. Despite that early defeat, Toronto went on to win the inaugural season. In March 1918, they defeated the PCL champions, the Vancouver Millionaires, three games to two for the Stanley Cup.

By 1926, the PCL had folded, and the 10 teams of the NHL divided into two divisions. The champions of each those two divisions–the Eastern and the Western Conference–now face each other at the end of each season in the Stanley Cup Championship.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Last lunar-landing mission ends

The Apollo lunar-landing program ends on December 19, 1972, when the last three astronauts to travel to the moon splash down safely in the Pacific Ocean. Apollo 17 had lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, 10 days before. In July 1969, after three years of preparation, the ...read more

President Clinton impeached

After nearly 14 hours of debate, the House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. Clinton, the second president in American history to be ...read more

North Vietnam condemns Linebacker raids

Hanoi’s foreign ministry, calling the new B-52 raids against Hanoi and Haiphong “extremely barbaric,” accuses the United States of premeditated intensification of the war and labels the actions “insane.”On December 13, North Vietnamese negotiators walked out of secret talks in ...read more

John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn released

Offered in the guise of a Western film, John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn, one of the best post-war critiques of American society, is released by Warner Brothers.John Ford was born Sean O’Feeny in 1894. He moved to Hollywood from Maine in 1913 and soon ...read more

Poor Richard’s Almanack is published

On this day in 1732, Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia first published Poor Richard’s Almanack. The book, filled with proverbs preaching industry and prudence, was published continuously for 25 years and became one of the most popular publications in colonial America, selling an ...read more

Titanic sails into theaters

On this day in 1997, director James Cameron’s epic drama Titanic, the story of the real-life luxury ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 passengers and crew, opens in theaters; it will go on to become ...read more

World Series parachutist sentenced

Michael Sergio, who parachuted into Game Six of the 1986 World Series at New York’s Shea Stadium, is fined $500 and sentenced to 100 hours of community service. On October 25, Sergio, a 37-year-old actor and Mets fan, landed on the infield with a “Let’s Go Mets” banner in the ...read more

James Archer born

On this day in 1817, Confederate General James Archer is born in Harford County, Maryland. Archer received his education at Princeton Universitybefore servingwith the Maryland volunteers during the Mexican War (1846-48). He earned a brevet promotion (an honorary promotion usually ...read more