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The Original Four and the Evolution into the Legendary Original Six

The Original Four Teams: Pioneers of the NHL

In the history of the National Hockey League (NHL), there is a group of teams that holds a special place. Known as the Original Four, these franchises were the foundation on which the league was built.

In this article, we will dive deep into the origins and the historical significance of these teams. From the inaugural season of the NHL to their respective achievements, let’s explore the rich history of the Montreal Wanderers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Arenas, and Ottawa the NHL’s Inaugural Season

In 1917, the NHL was born, marking the beginning of a new era in professional ice hockey.

With the demise of the National Hockey Association (NHA), the owners of four teams saw an opportunity to form a new league. These teams were the Montreal Wanderers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Arenas, and the Ottawa Senators.

Together, they laid the groundwork for what would become one of the most popular sports leagues in North America.

The Original Four Teams and Their History

Let us dig deeper into the history of each team and their contributions to the world of hockey. The Montreal Wanderers, established in 1903, were one of the founding members of the NHL.

Unfortunately, their time in the league was short-lived due to unforeseen circumstances. In their inaugural season, the Wanderers played only four games before their home arena, the Westmount Arena, was destroyed by a fire.

Despite this setback, the Wanderers’ legacy lives on, with two Stanley Cup championships to their name. On the other hand, the Montreal Canadiens, founded in 1909, have become synonymous with excellence in the NHL.

With a record 24 Stanley Cup championships, the Canadiens are the most successful team in league history. From legends like Maurice Richard and Guy Lafleur to the modern-day stars like Carey Price, the Canadiens have consistently showcased their talent and dedication to the sport.

In Toronto, the hockey landscape changed with the birth of the Toronto Arenas. Established in 1917, the team was owned by the Toronto Arena Company, the same organization that operated the arena where they played their home games.

The Arenas made an immediate impact by winning the NHL championship in their inaugural season. However, financial difficulties led to the team’s name change to the Toronto St. Patricks in 1919 before eventually becoming the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1927.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators, founded in 1883, were an established hockey team with a strong fanbase. When the NHA disbanded, the Senators joined the NHL and enjoyed considerable success.

They won multiple Stanley Cup championships, including those in 1920 and 1921. However, financial struggles eventually led to the team’s relocation to St. Louis in 1934.

Relationship with the NHA and Formation of the NHL

The formation of the NHL was not a seamless process. The new league was established as a temporary solution while the NHL and NHA coexisted.

However, tensions between the two leagues reached their peak when the owners of the Montreal Canadiens, Wanderers, and Ottawa Senators joined forces to form the NHL. Led by their president, David Livingston, the owners sought to create a more stable and prosperous league.

Thus, the NHL was officially born, and the path was paved for the future of professional hockey.

The Temporary Nature of the NHL and Addition of a Fourth Team

Initially, the NHL was intended to be a temporary solution until the NHA’s issues were resolved. However, the NHL proved to be a resounding success, prompting the addition of a fourth team to solidify the league further.

In 1919, the Toronto Arenas joined the Original Three, making the Original Four teams. This expansion marked an important milestone in the NHL’s history and set the stage for future growth and development.


Through thick and thin, the Original Four teams have persevered, leaving an indelible mark on the hockey world. From the Montreal Wanderers’ untimely demise to the Montreal Canadiens’ unrivaled success, these teams have shaped the NHL into what it is today.

The Toronto Arenas and the Ottawa Senators may have faced their fair share of challenges, but their contributions to the league should never be forgotten. As we celebrate the rich history of the NHL, let us remember the pioneers who laid the foundation for the sport we love.

Quebec Bulldogs and the Evolution into the Original Six

While the Original Four teams laid the foundation for the NHL, there are other teams that made significant contributions to the league’s development and legacy. In this article expansion, we will delve into the history of the Quebec Bulldogs and the evolution of the NHL into the Original Six.

From the Bulldogs’ unique circumstances to the concept of the Original Six and its implications, let’s explore these lesser-known aspects of the league’s history in detail. Who Were the Quebec Bulldogs?

The Quebec Bulldogs were a team that faced a unique set of circumstances, which set them apart from the Original Four. Established in 1878, the Bulldogs had a storied history in the sport.

However, during the inaugural season of the NHL, the team took a leave of absence due to a shortage of players. Despite this setback, the Bulldogs made a valiant attempt to return to the league on multiple occasions but ultimately faded into obscurity.

Nevertheless, their presence during the early days of the NHL should not be overlooked.

The Concept of the Original Six

Beyond the Original Four teams, another significant development in the NHL’s history was the emergence of the Original Six. Following years of team expansions and contractions, the league settled on a six-team format that would dominate the NHL landscape for many years.

The Original Six consisted of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs (known as the Toronto St. Patricks and Toronto Arenas before their rebranding), Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, and Chicago Blackhawks.

Dates of Establishment for the Original Six Teams

To understand the context of the Original Six era, it is essential to explore the dates of establishment for each of the six teams. The Montreal Canadiens, founded in 1909, were an original member of the NHL’s inaugural season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs (formerly St. Patricks and Arenas) joined the league in 1917, while the Boston Bruins entered in 1924. The New York Rangers made their debut in 1926, followed by the Detroit Red Wings in 1926 and the Chicago Blackhawks in 1926.

Duration of the Original Six Era and Expansion of the League

The Original Six era is often hailed as a legendary period in NHL history, characterized by intense rivalries and memorable moments. This era lasted for 25 seasons, from 1942-43 until the league expanded in 1967.

During this time, the six teams dominated the NHL landscape, captivating fans with their competitive spirit and incredible on-ice action. However, as the popularity of hockey continued to grow, the league recognized the need for expansion.

In 1967, the NHL embarked on a significant expansion, doubling the number of teams from six to twelve. This expansion marked a turning point in the league’s history, enabling more cities to join the NHL fraternity and nurturing the growth of the sport outside the Original Six cities.

As we reflect on this era and the expansion that followed, it is impossible to ignore the lasting impact of the Original Six. The rivalries, traditions, and legends that emerged during these years shaped the NHL’s culture and forged a deep connection with fans.

The fierce battles between the Canadiens and Bruins, the intense rivalries between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings, and the historic clashes between the Rangers and Blackhawks are etched into the league’s history.


The Quebec Bulldogs may not have been part of the Original Six, but their story serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by early NHL teams. The concept of the Original Six, on the other hand, represents a remarkable period in the league’s history, marked by legendary teams and unforgettable moments.

As the NHL expanded, it opened up new opportunities for teams and fans alike, creating a more vibrant and diverse league. As we celebrate the rich heritage of the NHL and its teams, let us not forget the Quebec Bulldogs and the Original Six.

Their contributions are an integral part of the league’s history, shaping it into the world-class sport that captures our hearts and imaginations today. The Quebec Bulldogs and the Original Six teams played crucial roles in the development and evolution of the NHL.

While the Bulldogs faced unique circumstances and were not part of the Original Six, their history highlights the challenges early teams encountered. The concept of the Original Six, consisting of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, and Chicago Blackhawks, symbolizes a legendary era in the NHL that lasted for 25 seasons.

Their intense rivalries, traditions, and memorable moments left an indelible mark on the league’s history. While the expansion of the league brought new opportunities, the legacy of the Quebec Bulldogs and the Original Six teams will forever be cherished as integral parts of the NHL’s rich heritage.

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