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For millions of hockey fans, this sport is synonymous with winter, ice, skates, sticks, pucks, body checks, fights, and awesome goalie saves. Canada's official sport has its roots in the country's East Coast. Most hockey historians estimate hockey's birth to have occurred in the 1870s in Windsor, Nova Scotia. The game soon found its way west throughout Canada and before the end of the nineteenth century the concept had founds its way to the United States of America and across the Atlantic to Europe.

As Hockey spread across the continent, there was a marked increase in the number of organized hockey leagues. In 1917, the National Hockey Association (NHA) was re-organized and eventually led the birth of the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL started off with five teams; the Quebec Bulldogs, Montreal Wanderers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Toronto Arenas. NHL's early years were far from stable, with the Quebec Bulldogs franchise folding before playing its first game. The Montreal Wanderers exited the league not too long after its innauguration when their rink (Westmount Arena) burnt down in 1918. The Toronto Arenas also folded in 1919. The first decade of the NHL's existance was tumultuous with the creation and demise of many franchises.

Hockey prospered in the 1920s as the post World War I boom engulfed North America. In 1924 the NHL expanded to six teams by adding its first American franchise, the Boston Bruins. Montreal got its second team in the Maroons. Not too long after, more American teams were added as the NHL grew its presence into Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburg, and New York. The 1920s saw the NHL firmly establish itself as the premier professional hockey league. The Stanley Cup was now the exclusive property of the league, awarded to the overall champions. The "Roaring Twenties" were followed by the tough years of the "Great Depression", and like everything else in that time the National Hockey League took its lumps as the economic situation in North America plunged. World War II was another watershed moment in the history of the game, an event that the NHL survived and built its foundation upon.

After many changes and lots of turmoil in its first twenty five years of existence, the NHL started what could be referred to as its golden age in the early 1940s. At this time the league was comprised of six teams; Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs - the "Original Six". The six teams had a stranglehold on the hockey talent and battled it out over a few decades. Hockey in the 1950s and '60s is considered by many to have been at its best. Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens had it doubly good with the two Canadian powerhouses capturing 11 Stanley Cups between them in the 12 year stretch from 1955 to 1967. Expansion brought a new era to the NHL as the number of teams doubled in the 1967-68 seaon to twelve. This led to a surge in minor league players finally getting a shot to play in the NHL. Three years later, a new league would emerge to challenge the NHL. The World Hockey Association (WHA) started in 1972 and featured various past and future stars including Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. The league would succumb to financial problems by 1979, and some of the franchises would be absorbed into the NHL. The 1970s and 80s brought forth three NHL dynasties. The Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s, the New York Islanders of the late 1970s-80s and the Edmonton Oilers of the mid-late 1980s awed fans around the world.

The 1990s saw the NHL emerge as the premier hockey league in the world. As more expansion teams entered the league, players from around the world were sought to play in the NHL. The 1990s and the new century that followed also brought in an uneasy labour situation within the league. With skyrocketing salaries, undisciplined ownership, and tough financial times for small market teams the league suffered through two work stoppages. Through the late 1990s and into the new milleneum, the National Hockey League had grown to 30 teams with player salaries reaching all time highs. But not everyone was pleased - the fans were beginning to walk away from a watered down talent pool and the owners were deeply in the red. The 2003-04 season ended with the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup and the offseason saw the begininning of the darkest times in NHL history. Unable to agree on a collective bargaining agreement, the league cancelled the 2004-05 hockey season, becoming the first North American professional sports league to do so. Fortunately the two sides finally agreed upon a deal in the summer of 2005 that included a salary cap and linkage to league revenues. The 2005-06 was a banner year for the NHL, showing good growth in revenues and building back some of the fan interest that was lost due to the lockout.

The 2012-13 NHL season had further disputes, and all games scheduled for the start of the 2012-13 calendar up to January 14th 2013, were consequently cancelled. This marked the start of the 2012-13 NHL Lockout, which related to revenue sharing within the NHL and specifically player salaries. A number of avenues were looked at in order to increase revenue in the NHL. This was just one of the options which were looked at, in order to enhance revenues in the NHL, and so far this was deemed a success.

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