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Original Six

From Academic Kids

The Original Six is the term used by fans of ice hockey to refer to the six National Hockey League teams that existed before the league's expansion in 1967. They are:

The term is somewhat of a misnomer; as shown above, only two of the teams are actual original members of the NHL. In fact, three of them were formed in an earlier expansion that enlarged the league to ten teams, its maximum size before 1967. But all six of them do date from the league's first decade, and from 1942 to 1967 the six teams formed the entire league, after such franchises as the Montreal Maroons, New York Americans, and the original Ottawa Senators were done in by the Great Depression.

The small league meant that the number of players at the NHL level was also small, and so the quality of play was high. There was none of the dilution of talent seen in the NHL in the later "expansion era". The same teams would play each other up to 14 times each season; rivalries would develop, and it was easy for fans to become familiar with all of the players. The league at times played to 95% capacity.

Some criticize the era as having too easy of a playoff system (Only 2 teams were eliminated after the 50-60-70 game regular seasons), for featuring too many dominant teams (Montreal never missed the playoffs from 1949-1967, Toronto missed once, and Detroit missed twice, while the other 3 teams competed for one berth), and for having very autocratic and monopolistic practices by the owners (including the Norris family at one point owning 3 of the 6 franchises and the 4 US arenas). Increased pressure of an opposing league forming and lucrative US TV contracts convinced the six owners to go ahead with expansion.

The "Original Six era" is often referred to with great respect and nostalgia by hockey fans, particularly fans of the six teams who are old enough to remember it.

Recruiting during this period was done using the C form.

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