The number of teams in the NHL has fluctuated wildly throughout its history except for one period known as the era of the “Original Six.” The reference is actually a bit of a misnomer as it refers not to the original teams of the NHL, but rather to a 25-year period during which the number of teams in the NHL remained unchanged.
In the years since the Original Six teams (Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs), the NHL has grown to 30 teams. However, most of the expansion has occurred south of the American-Canadian border.
Since the Original Six, the number of Canadian teams has grown from two to seven while the number of American teams has grown from four to 23.
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