From Lord Stanley’s Cup and the Original Six to Howe, Orr, Gretzky and Lemieux, the National Hockey League has provided its fans with a century’s worth of speed, skill, muscle and magic.
Sportradar is proud to be the exclusive provider of real-time NHL game data. To celebrate 100 years of NHL competition, the team at Sportradar is revealing its favorite moment from every decade of NHL play.
The National Hockey League was founded after the National Hockey Association ceased operations. At first, the NHL consisted of only four Canadian teams, but from year one they competed for the Stanley Cup.
The NHL expanded past the Canadian borders into the United States, adding the Boston Bruins as the first US-based franchise in 1924.
The first NHL All-Star game was held on Feb. 14, 1934 as a benefit for Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ace Bailey, who had suffered a skull fracture in a game two months earlier that ended his career. Bailey’s No. 6 was retired by the Maple Leafs – the first NHL jersey ever to be retired.
Montreal Canadiens right wing Maurice “Rocket” Richard established a new record for goals, by scoring 50 in 50 games during the 1944-45 season. He later went on to become the first player in league history to reach 500 goals.
The Canadiens dynasty won five consecutive Stanley Cups from 1956-60 – a feat that has never been duplicated.
The NHL doubled in size from the Original Six to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season with the addition of the Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, California Seals and St. Louis Blues.
Bruins great Bobby Orr, who revolutionized the game as an offensive defenseman, scored “The Goal” to give Boston their first Stanley Cup championship in 29 years on May 10, 1970. The image of Orr flying horizontally through the crease after knocking home the overtime winner remains one of the most iconic in sports history.
Wayne Gretzky led his Edmonton Oilers to Stanley Cup championships in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988 while annihilating the NHL record book. “The Great One” would go on to establish single-season and career records for goals and assists, highlighted by his 215-point season in 1985-86.
The Magnificent Mario Lemieux returned to his Pittsburgh Penguins for the 1995-96 season after sitting out a year to battle Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player for the third time.
Down 2-1 in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Chicago Blackhawks rally to win three straight games – allowing just two goals in the process – to claim the Cup for the third time in six seasons.
On Oct. 2, 2016, Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews became the first player in NHL history to score four goals in his NHL debut.
Here’s to the next 100 years of great NHL moments!