Old school photo of the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. the Boston Bruins.

The Original Six are the six hockey teams that comprised the National Hockey League during the league’s earliest days. Although many of these teams were organized before the 1942-1943 NHL season, the Great Depression and World Wars interfered with professional hockey during that time period. The Original Six would play each other exclusively for 25 years from 1942 to 1967 until the NHL expanded to 12 teams. Few hockey fans know that there were many teams that did not make the modern area of hockey, including the Montreal Maroons, St. Louis Eagles and Pittsburgh Pirates. 

So who are the Original Six NHL teams? Documenting their complete history would be long and exhausting but here we go.



Old photo of a Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings game.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are by far the most popular team in the National Hockey League today, primarily due to their success winning three Stanley Cups over the last six seasons. The Blackhawks have a slew of young and talented players including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford. 2010 marked the first time the Chicago Blackhawks had won a Stanley Cup since 1961.

The franchise was founded by Frederic McLaughlin, who owned the club from 1926 to 1944. McLaughlin had mad his money in the coffee industry and nicknamed the team after the Army’s 86th Infantry Division he fought for in World War 1. His particular division was nicknamed the “Black Hawk Division”.  The Wirtz family purchased the Blackhawks in 1966 from the Norris family. When Rocky Wirtz finally took the reigns in 2007, the organization took on a whole new look and fan interest in Chicago was revived. The Blackhawks were 29th in NHL attendance in 2007. Since 2009, they have led the entire National Hockey League in attendance, often playing in front of over capacity crowds.

Photo of Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews hoisting the Stanley Cup.

From 1929 to 1994, the Blackhawks shared the famed Chicago Stadium with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. In 1994, both teams moved next door into the United Center, their current home. The organization has one of the best and most electrifying traditions in all of professional sports and it occurs when Jim Cornelison sings the national anthem before each home game. During the national anthem, Blackhawks fans stand and cheer for the entire duration and the crowd volume is deafening.



The Ten greatest Chicago Blackhawks players of all-time include 

  • Stan Mikita
  • Bobby Hull
  • Chris Chelios
  • Jeremy Roenick
  • Denis Savard
  • Tony Esposito
  • Johnathon Toews
  • Patrick Kane
  • Marian Hossa
  • Steve Larmer




Black and white photo of Toronto Maple Leafs players hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs are second to only the Montreal Canadiens in the number of Stanley Cup Championships with 13. However, the Maple Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup Championship since 1967; the longest current drought in the NHL.

The Maple Leafs were originally founded as the Toronto Arenas in 1917 since they were owned by the Toronto Arena Company. From 1919 to 1927, they were known as the Toronto St. Patrick’s. Brand new owner Conn Smythe changed the team’s names to the Maple Leafs as tribute to the Maple Leaf Regiment from World War I. Smythe fought in both World Wars and would own the Maple Leafs from 1927 to 1961. Smythe was also monumental in bringing the Hockey Hall of Fame to Toronto, Ontario. Today, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the most profitable franchise in the NHL.

Old photo of Maple Leaf Gardens, former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maple Leafs Gardens was home to the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1933 to 1999. In 1999, the team joined the NBA’s newest expansion Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre, their current home arena. The arena was one of the most historic arenas in NHL history and the arena still stands today on Carlton Street in downtown Toronto.

The Ten great Toronto Maple Leafs players of all time include

  • Mats Sundin
  • Darryl Sittler
  • Dave Keon
  • Tim Horton
  • Doug Gilmour
  • Johnny Bower
  • Syl Apps
  • Wendel Clark
  • Ted Kennedy
  • George Armstrong 





Photo of Mark Messier of the New York Rangers hoisting the Stanley Cup.

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers had the most losses during the Original Six era. However, today they boast 4 Stanley Cup Championships and are the 2nd most profitable organization in the NHL. The team was founded by Tex Rickard, the owner of Madison Square Garden. Rickard wanted a second hockey team to play at Madison Square Garden as competition to the New York Americans, a former hockey team. In fact when the Americans organization folded in 1941, it marked the official beginning of the Original Six era. Rickard named the team the “Rangers” as a play on words in reference to the famous Texas law enforcement unit, the Texas Rangers. As an expansion, they were nicknamed “Tex’s Rangers”.

The Rangers experienced quick success by winning the Stanley Cup in only their second year as a franchise in 1928 by defeating the Montreal Maroons. In fact, Rickard was able to convince Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe to help him assemble that same team. It didn’t take long before the entire city of New York began to take to them, dubbing them the “Broadway Blue Shirts”.

Photo of Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky talking on the ice.

The original New York Rangers did not play at today’s installment of Madison Square Garden. The original New York Rangers played in the third installment of Madison Square Garden on 8th Avenue, which isn’t considered part of Madison Square. Both the Rangers and the NBA’s New York Knicks began playing at the current installment of Madison Square Garden in 1968.

The Ten greatest New York Rangers players of all time include

  • Wayne Gretzky
  • Mark Messier
  • Brian Leetch
  • Henrik Lundqvist
  • Mike Richter
  • Andy Bathgate
  • Jean Ratelle
  • Rod Gilbert
  • Adam Graves
  • Eddie Giacomin




Old photo of a Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers game.

Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins, founded in 1924, are the oldest hockey team in the United States and the third oldest team in the National Hockey League. The Bruins are fourth on the Stanley Cup Championship list with six Stanley Cup Championships. Boston area grocery magnate Charles Adams was awarded an NHL expansion franchise in 1924 after falling in love with the game earlier that year after watching the Stanley Cup Finals. Adams quickly hired Art Ross, a former player from Ontario, as the team’s General Manager. Adams asked Ross to come up with a nickname for the team, a nickname that personified strength and aggressiveness. Ross came up with the nickname “Bruins” which was a Dutch word for “brown bear”. Charles Adam’s grocery chain ‘First National Stores’ had a color scheme of brown and yellow which Adams decided to incorporate into the uniforms.

Old photo of Boston Garden, former home of the Boston Bruins.

The original home of the Boston Bruins was Boston Arena, known today as Matthews Arena. The arena is the oldest and longest running indoor hockey arena in the United States and is home to the Northeastern University men’s hockey team. The Bruins moved into the legendary Boston Garden in 1928 where they would play until 1995 when they moved into their current home, the TD Banknorth Garden. The NBA's Boston Celtics made the move as well.

Charles Adams would own the Boston Bruins until 1936 when he transferred ownership to his son Weston Adams. Boston Garden Arena Corporation eventually purchased the Bruins from the Adams family in 1951. Ownership then changed hands a number of times through various entities before current owner Jeremy Jacobs purchased the Bruins in 1975.

The Ten greatest Boston Bruins players of all time include

  • Bobby Orr
  • Phil Esposito
  • Ray Bourque
  • Johnny Bucyk
  • Cam Neely
  • Patrice Bergeron
  • Terry O'Reilly
  • Brad Park
  • Eddie Shore




Old photo of the Montreal Canadiens hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens are the NHL’s equivalent of the New York Yankees. No other team in the National Hockey League can even begin to compare to the Canadiens in terms of history, tradition and success. The Montreal Canadiens are officially known as “le club de Hockey Canadien” or simply as “The Habs” and have a record 24 Stanley Cup Championships to their name.

The Canadiens are the only professional hockey team that predates the founding of the NHL. Their first Stanley Cup Championship came in 1916 and their last Stanley Cup came in 1993. The Canadiens were founded by J. Ambrose O’Brien but he transferred ownership to George Kennedy after the first season. O’Brien was also the founder of the National Hockey Association. It was Jimmy Gardner, owner of the Montreal Wanderers, who insisted on the nickname “Canadiens” during a private meeting with J. Ambrose O’Brien in 1908. Gardner thought that with the numerous hockey teams in the Montreal area, why not have a team of French speaking players and pay tribute to the large French demographic in Montreal.

Photo of the old Montreal Forum, former home of the Montreal Canadiens.

The Montreal Canadiens played at the historic Montreal Forum from 1926 to 1996 when they moved into the Bell Centre, their current home and the largest arena in the NHL. For 12 years, the Canadiens shared the Montreal Forum with the Montreal Maroons, a now defunct NHL team. When the Maroons folded in 1938, many of their players switched sides and joined the Canadiens. The Montreal Forum still stands today and part of it has been converted into a movie theater.

The Ten greatest Montreal Canadiens players of all time include

  • Jean Beliveau
  • Guy Lafleur 
  • Maurice Richard
  • Patrick Roy 
  • Larry Robinson
  • Jacques Plante
  • Ken Dryden
  • Guy Lapointe
  • Doug Harvey
  • Bernie Geoffrion





Old photo of the Detroit Red Wings hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings were founded in 1926 as the Detroit Cougars, formerly the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League. Charles A. Hughes, a Detroit businessman, was the original owner before selling the team to James E. Norris.  The organization was known as the Detroit Falcons from 1930 to 1932. Both nicknames were short lived when they once again switched nicknames to become the Red Wings in 1932. James E. Norris came up with the idea for the nickname “Red Wings” because it paid homage to his playing days with the Montreal Winged Wheelers. The logo also fittingly paid homage to the city of Detroit and it’s auto industry.

The Detroit Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cup Championships which is good for the third most in NHL history and the more than any other NHL team in the United States. They have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year since 1990; the longest such streak in professional sports and have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs 29 of the last 31 years.

Photo of Joe Louis Arena, former home of the Detroit Red Wings.

Detroit, also known as “Hockeytown USA”, has a rich sports history. When the city finally received a hockey team, there was no home arena for them to play in.  The Detroit Cougars played at Border Cities Arena in Windosr, Ontario until the Detroit Olympia opened in 1927. The Red Wings would play at Detroit Olympia until 1979 when they moved into Joe Louis Arena, the team’s current home arena. As  brand new and more modern arena for the Red Wings is currently under construction in downtown Detroit.

The Detroit Red Wings have one of the best traditions in the NHL which is to throw an Octopus onto the ice during playoff games. They're thrown onto the ice during regular season games from time to time as well. Here is an article we wrote on the subject -

The Ten greatest Detroit Red Wings players of all time include 

  • Gordie Howe
  • Ted Lindsay
  • Pavel Datsyuk
  • Nicklas Lidstrom
  • Steve Yzerman
  • Henrik Zetterberg
  • Alex Delvecchio
  • Sergei Federov
  • Terry Sawchuk
  • Brendan Shanahan


Although we can appreciate all NHL teams because it’s such a wonderful sport, let’s get real. There’s always a few more spectators when two Original Six franchises are going head to head. It’s no accident that an Original Six member is involved in virtually every Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. It’s also no secret that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are a little more exciting when all six teams are involved.