Once upon a time, back in the day, that is, prior to 1967, there were six NHL teams: a. The Montreal Canadians (aka Les Habs, short for Les Habitants); b. The Toronto Maple Leafs (aka The Leafs); c. The Boston Bruins (aka the Bruins); d. The Chicago Blackhawks (aka The Hawks); e. The New York Rangers; and f. Detroit Red Wings (aka The Wings); Notice something? The teams were all in the snow belt, and in very large cities. Keep that in mind. Now the league started in 1917 with five teams, all of whom were Canadian and only one of which exists today: The Habs. This link: NHL Team History shows that the first American team was the Boston Bruins in the 1923-4 season, the rest added during the 20's. In 1926-7 there were 10 teams. Of course you know what happened the next year: the Depression hit. The number of teams began dropping until 1937-8, when only six were left, as noted above. After that, the number was stable for nearly thirty years. In 1967, the league decided to expand to 12 teams, and adopted the draft (prior to that they sponsored teams). They did it in a typical NHL way, namely, stupidly. The new franchises were: the Minnesota North Stars, California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penquins, and the St. Louis Blues. Of these, only Minnesota and Philadelphia made a lot of sense. Why give Pennsylvania two franchises--though I agree they should have had one. Why expand to Los Angeles, a hot city with plenty of other distractions? St. Louis was the dumbest of all. Know why they got a franchise? Because the owner of Hawks owned the St. Louis arena and wanted to unload it. The city made no sense at all, and still doesn't.