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The Original Six Years


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The period between the 1942-43 season and the 1967 NHL Expansion is referred to by many as the "Original Six" era of the NHL, though In actuality this term is a bit of a misnomer.

See, during the early years of the NHL there had been other franchises join and exit the league...but when the dust settled on these early wild west years only six teams remained: Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.

And for the next 25 seasons they battled it out in what has also come to be known as 'The Golden Era' of the NHL. Here are a few interesting peices of history that took place during these years..

  • 1942: The Brooklyn Americans withdraw from the NHL. For the next 25 years the league will be comprised of the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Bruins, Rangers and Black Hawks, now known as the Original Six.
  • 1942: Due to wartime restrictions on train scheduling, regular season overtime is discontinued.
  • 1943/1944 saw the Canadiens return to their winning ways taking home the Stanley Cup after an impressive year in which they had only lost five games the entire 50 game season.
  • In 1945 Maurice Rocket Richard became the first player to score 50 goals in a single season reaching the mark on the final night of the season.
  • 1945: The NHL regular season begins in October for the first time.
  • 1946 was the year that Clarence S Campbell, (born Fleming, SK) took his position as president of the National Hockey League. He held that post until 1977.
  • In 1946 referees begin using hand signals to indicate penalties and other rulings.
  • 1946: Gordie Howe joins the NHLs Detroit Red Wings at age 18, earning $2,600 in his rookie season.
  • During the 1947/48 season, Chicago netminder Emile Francis changed the goaltending position forever when he wore a modified version of a first basemans glove in a game against the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit coach Jack Adams protested the use of the glove but NHL President Clarence Campbell disagreed, evolutionizing the position of goaltender.
  • In 1951 Bill Barilko scored a cup winning overtime goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a hard fought series with Montreal Canadiens. The following summer Bill Barilko died in a plane crash while on a fishing trip.
  • 1952: Hockey Night in Canada makes its television debut.
  • 1955: Referees wear striped shirts because their usual orange sweaters appear dark on black and white television, making it difficult to distinguish between them and away-team players.
  • In 1955, Maurice Rocket Richard is suspended for the remainder of the season and the playoffs after punching a linesman during a fight. The suspension sparks the Richard Riot in Montreal.
  • 1956: Montreal power play is so devastating, the NHL creates a new rule allowing a player to come out of the penalty box after one man-advantage goal.
  • 1958: Willie ORee (birthplace: Fredericton, New Brunswick) of the Boston Bruins was the first black player in the NHL.
  • In 1959 Jacques Plante changed the goalie position forever when after taking a slapshot to the face he returned to the ice wearing a goalie mask. Although coach Toe Blake was furious about Plante wearing the mask Plante refused to stop wearing it and after going on an 18 game winning streak wearing
  • 1961: The Hockey Hall of Fame opens in Toronto.
  • In 1962 Maple Leaf Gardens became the first arena to install seperate penalty boxes. Too bad it would make for a more interesting game if they went back to shared penalty boxes!
  • In 1966 the Bruins signed a defenseman from Parry Sound, Ontario, named Bobby Orr, who went on to become in the eyes of many, the greatest player of all time.

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