There were only four teams in the NHL when the much-loved hockey league had its inaugural face off in 1917. The league has grown to 31 teams, but there have been several casualties along the way, and these five NHL teams no longer exist.
California Golden Seals
The California Golden Seals were part of the NHL’s expansion in 1967, along with five other teams. However, the Golden Seals would struggle to survive, and after nine seasons in California, the franchise was forced to relocate to Cleveland. That team would become the Cleveland Barons, but it folded completely in 1978.
There is a good reason why you haven’t heard of the Montreal Wanderers. They were part of the original NHL season in 1917, but the franchise lasted just six games. Montreal has an established team in the Canadiens, but there could have been an inner-city rivalry had the Wanderers not suffered such devastating economic problems.
Firstly, the team had to disband after just six games due to a lack of players, with many people being drafted to fight in World War One. Then, the Wanderers also had the misfortune of their arena burning to the ground, which brought an early end to the fledgling franchise in 1917.
There was a call for an NHL franchise in Quebec in the 1970s, so the Nordiques joined the league in 1979. However, the franchise struggled from the moment it was created, as Quebec couldn’t sustain a major hockey franchise.
After over a decade trying to establish itself, the Nordiques ceased to exist and moved to Denver to become the Avalanche. Once more, the people of Quebec are trying to get themselves a new franchise, but all signs point to the NHL opting against taking that risk again.
Before the NHL franchise moved to Philadelphia, it was known as the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1925 to 1930. In Pittsburgh, hockey fans would have to wait almost 40 years for another NHL franchise to come to the city.
With the Pirates relocating to Philadelphia, a new name was needed, and it was decided the Quakers would play hockey in Philly.
However, the name is taken from the peace-loving religion, so it wasn’t the ideal name for a rough and tough hockey franchise. Throw in the Great Depression into the mix, and the Quakers lasted just one season before disappearing forever in 1931.
While you might think the Rangers were the first hockey franchise in New York, it was actually the Brooklyn Americans. The franchise began in 1925 and seemed to have established itself in the league, but went under in 1942.
Due to the economic struggles at the time, and the fact able-bodied players were being drafted to fight in the Second World War, the Americans began to struggle. Only six NHL teams survived beyond 1942, and the Americans were not one of them.
While the NHL might have stuck around since 1917, not every franchise was fortunate enough to have the same longevity.