American Hockey League
The American Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League. Since the 2010–11 season, every team in the league has an affiliation agreement with one NHL team; when NHL teams do not have an AHL affiliate, players are assigned to AHL teams affiliated with other NHL teams. Twenty-seven AHL teams are located in the United States and the remaining four are in Canada; the league offices are located in Springfield and its current president is David Andrews. In general, a player must be at least 18 years of age to play in the AHL or not be beholden to a junior ice hockey team; the league limits the number of experienced professional players on a team's active roster during any given game. The AHL allows for practice squad contracts; the annual playoff champion is awarded the Calder Cup, named for Frank Calder, the first President of the NHL. The reigning champions are the Toronto Marlies.
The AHL traces its origins directly to two predecessor professional leagues: the Canadian-American Hockey League, founded in 1926, the first International Hockey League, established in 1929. Although the Can-Am League never operated with more than six teams, the departure of the Boston Bruin Cubs after the 1935–36 season reduced it down to just four member clubs – the Springfield Indians, Philadelphia Ramblers, Providence Reds, New Haven Eagles – for the first time in its history. At the same time, the then-rival IHL lost half of its eight members after the 1935–36 season leaving it with just four member teams: the Buffalo Bisons, Syracuse Stars, Pittsburgh Hornets, Cleveland Falcons. With both leagues down to the bare minimum in membership, the governors of each recognized the need for action to assure their member clubs' long-term survival, their solution was to play an interlocking schedule. While the Can-Am League was based in the Northeast and the IHL in the Great Lakes, their footprints were close enough for this to be a viable option.
The two older leagues' eight surviving clubs began joint play in November 1936 as a new two-division "circuit of mutual convenience" known as the International-American Hockey League. The four Can-Am teams became the I-AHL East Division, with the IHL quartet playing as the West Division; the IHL contributed its former championship trophy, the F. G. "Teddy" Oke Trophy, which would go to the regular-season winners of the merged league's West Division until 1952. The Oke Trophy is now awarded to the regular-season winners of the AHL's Northeast Division. A little more than a month into that first season, the balance and symmetry of the new combined circuit suffered a setback when its membership unexpectedly fell to seven teams; the West's Buffalo Bisons were forced to cease operations on December 6, 1936, after playing just 11 games, because of what proved to be insurmountable financial problems and lack of access to a suitable arena. The makeshift new I-AHL played out the rest of its first season with just seven teams.
At the end of the 1936–37 season, a modified three-round playoff format was devised and a new championship trophy, the Calder Cup, was established. The Syracuse Stars defeated the Philadelphia Ramblers in the final, three-games-to-one, to win the first-ever Calder Cup championship; the Calder Cup continues on today as the AHL's playoff championship trophy. After two seasons of interlocking play, the governors of the two leagues' seven active teams met in New York City on June 28, 1938, agreed that it was time to formally consolidate. Maurice Podoloff of New Haven, the former head of the Can-Am League, was elected the I-AHL's first president; the former IHL president, John Chick of Windsor, became vice-president in charge of officials. The new I-AHL added an eighth franchise at the 1938 meeting to fill the void in its membership left by the loss of Buffalo two years earlier with the admission of the two-time defending Eastern Amateur Hockey League champion Hershey Bears; the Bears remain the only one of these eight original I-AHL/AHL franchises to have been represented in the league without interruption since the 1938–39 season.
The newly merged circuit increased its regular-season schedule for each team by six games from 48 to 54. After the 1939–40 season the I-AHL renamed itself the American Hockey League, it enjoyed both consistent success on the ice and relative financial stability over its first three decades of operation. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the cost of doing business in professional ice hockey began to rise with NHL expansion and relocation and the 1972 formation of the World Hockey Association, which forced the relocation and subsequent folding of the Cleveland Barons, Baltimore Clippers, Quebec Aces; the number of major-league teams competing for players rose from six to thirty in just seven years. Player salaries at all levels shot up with the increased demand and competition for their services; this did not seem to affect the AHL at first, as it expanded to 12 teams by 1970. However, to help compensate for the rise in player salaries, many NHL clubs cut back on the number of p
The Nashville Predators are a professional ice hockey team based in Nashville, Tennessee. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League; the Predators' television broadcasting rights are held by Fox Sports Tennessee, whereas radio broadcasting rights are held by WPRT-FM. The Predators have played their home games at Bridgestone Arena since 1998; the club was founded in 1998. After five seasons, the Predators qualified for their first Stanley Cup playoffs during the 2003–04 season. In 2008, ownership of the club was transferred from Leipold to a locally based ownership group; the Predators advanced to their first Stanley Cup Finals in 2017, but were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. In the following season, the Predators won their first Presidents' Trophy and Central Division title; the Predators are presently affiliated with one minor league team, the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. In late 1995, rumors began to circulate that the New Jersey Devils would be relocating to the planned Nashville Arena.
Nashville offered a $20 million relocation bonus to any team that would relocate, the Devils attempted to terminate their lease with the NJSEA before restructuring it to stay in New Jersey. After the attempt to get the Devils, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated Nashville would be considered in upcoming expansion; the arena was opened in 1996, after an attempt to bring the National Basketball Association's Sacramento Kings did not materialize, the city instead went after a hockey team. In January 1997, a group led by Wisconsin businessman Craig Leipold made a formal presentation before the NHL requesting an expansion franchise; when Bettman and league officials visited Nashville to tour the arena, thousands gathered on the arena plaza to greet them. In June, the league granted conditional franchises to Nashville, Ohio and Minneapolis–Saint Paul; the Nashville team would be scheduled to begin play in 1998 if they met the NHL requirement of selling 12,000 season tickets before March 31, 1998.
Of the four cities, Nashville was the only one with a completed arena and therefore began play first. One month Leipold named former Washington Capitals general manager David Poile as the franchise's first general manager. Portland Pirates' head coach Barry Trotz was named the franchise's first head coach on August 6. On September 25, 1997, Leipold and team president Jack Diller held a press conference where they unveiled the franchise's new logo, a saber-toothed cat; the logo was a reference to a partial Smilodon skeleton found beneath downtown Nashville in 1971 during construction of the First American National Bank building, now the UBS Tower. Once the logo was unveiled, the franchise held a vote among fans to choose a name. Three candidates were culled from 75: "Ice Tigers," "Fury" and "Attack." Leipold added his own submission to the vote, "Predators." On November 13, Leipold revealed at a press conference that his submission had won out and that the new franchise would be known as the "Nashville Predators."When awarded a franchise, the city of Nashville paid 31.50% of the $80 million fee to join the league.
The city has engaged an affiliate of the team to operate the arena, that agreement protects the city against annual arena operating losses over $3.8 million. The $15 million payroll of the team was the lowest of the NHL; the Predators began play during the 1998–99 season, taking to the ice for the first time on October 10, 1998, where they lost 1–0 at home to the Florida Panthers. It was the only sold out game of the Predators' first five bouts in Nashville. Three nights on October 13, they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3–2 for their first win. Forward Andrew Brunette scored the first goal; the Predators, in their first year of existence, finished second-to-last in the Western Conference with a 28–47–7 record. In the 1999–2000 season, the Predators finished with a similar record to the previous season, finished last in the Western Conference behind the Calgary Flames. However, during a game versus the New York Islanders on February 20, 2000, the Predators scored four goals in 3 minutes and 38 seconds.
To begin the 2000–01 season, the Predators played two games in Japan against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Each team won a game in front of the largest crowds to see a hockey game in Japan. Backed by the goaltending duo of Mike Dunham and Tomas Vokoun, Nashville finished the season in tenth place in the Western Conference, ten points out of a playoff spot with a total of 80 total points. During the 2001–02 season, the Predators recorded their 100th victory on December 6, 2001. With that win, Nashville became the second-fastest expansion team of the 1990s to reach the 100-win plateau. In the 2002–03 season, head coach Barry Trotz broke the record for most games coached by the original coach of an expansion team; the club had failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for their first five years as a franchise. However, in the 2003–04 season, the Predators finished eighth in the Western Conference, qualifying for their first post-season berth; the Predators were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in six games in the first round of the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The following 2004–05 season was wiped out by a labor dispute between NHL owners and players. In the 2005–06 season, the Predators set an NHL record by winning their first four games by one goal each, they became only the fourth NHL franchise to start the season 8–0.
Western Hockey League
The Western Hockey League is a major junior ice hockey league based in Western Canada and the Northwestern United States. The WHL is one of three leagues that constitutes the Canadian Hockey League as the highest level of junior hockey in Canada. Teams play for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, with the winner moving on to play for the Memorial Cup, Canada's national junior championship. WHL teams have won the Memorial Cup 19 times since the league became eligible to compete for the trophy. Many players have been drafted from WHL teams, have found success at various levels of professional hockey, including the National Hockey League; the league was founded in 1966, as the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League, with seven western Canadian teams in Saskatchewan and Alberta. From 1967, the league was renamed the Western Canada Hockey League, before the admission of American based teams in the league and renaming as the Western Hockey League commencing in 1978, up to present day; the league was the brainchild of Bill Hunter, who intended to build a western league capable of competing with the top leagues in Ontario and Quebec.
Considered an "outlaw league" by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, the WCHL was sanctioned as the top junior league in Western Canada when junior hockey was reorganized in 1970. Today, the WHL comprises 22 teams, divided into two conferences of two divisions; the Eastern Conference comprises 12 teams from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, while the Western Conference comprises ten teams from British Columbia, the US states of Washington and Oregon. Despite winning the 1966 Memorial Cup, the Edmonton Oil Kings' owner, Bill Hunter, was growing concerned about the state of junior hockey in western Canada; each of the West's four provinces had its own junior league, Hunter felt that this put them at a disadvantage when competing nationally against the powerful leagues in Ontario and Quebec. Desiring stronger competition, Hunter's Oil Kings competed in the Alberta Senior Hockey League rather than the Alberta Junior Hockey League; the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association informed the Oil Kings that they were required to play in a junior hockey league for the 1966–67 season or would be held ineligible to compete for the Memorial Cup.
This led Hunter to form a new league with five former members of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, the Estevan Bruins, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Moose Jaw Canucks, Weyburn Red Wings, to leave the SJHL and join the Oil Kings and the Calgary Buffaloes in a new league known as the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League. Despite concerns that this new league would see the demise of the Alberta and Saskatchewan leagues, the governing bodies in both provinces sanctioned the new league; the CAHA did not, declaring the CMJHL to be an "outlaw league" and suspending all teams and players from participation in CAHA sanctioned events. The new league accused the CAHA of overstepping its boundaries and with the support of the players and their families, chose to play the season regardless; the new league deliberately avoided including the term "Western" in its moniker, as some of its founders wanted to keep open the possibility of inviting top Eastern junior clubs to join in a national elite junior league in case negotiations with the CAHA reached a complete impasse.
The CMJHL renamed itself the Western Canada Hockey League in 1967, adding four new teams to total 11 as the league stretched east into Manitoba. Concerns over the WCHL's relationship with the CAHA led the Pats and Red Wings to withdraw before the 1968–69 season, returning to the SJHL; when the CAHA reorganized junior hockey in 1971, it named the WCHL one of three Tier I Major-Junior leagues, along with the Ontario Hockey Association's Tier I division and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The first decade of the WCHL saw constant expansion and franchise movement as the league spread throughout the West; the Flin Flon Bombers became the league's first powerhouse team, led by future NHL stars Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. The Brandon Wheat Kings and Swift Current Broncos joined in 1967, the Medicine Hat Tigers in 1970; the WCHL became a western league in 1971 when Estevan moved to B. C. to become the New Westminster Bruins, joined by expansion franchises the Victoria Cougars and Vancouver Nats.
In the mid 1970s, the New Westminster Bruins became the WCHL's first true dynasty, capturing four consecutive championships between 1975 and 1978. The Bruins won back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1977 and 1978. In 1976, the Oil Kings succumbed to the competing Edmonton Oilers of the World Hockey Association and relocated to Portland to become the Winter Hawks, the WCHL's first American franchise. With the addition of American teams in Seattle and Billings a year the WCHL shortened its name to the Western Hockey League; the 1980s were marked by several brawls that involved police intervention, one of the most bizarre trades in hockey history, the tragic deaths of four players in a bus crash. Early in the 1980–81 WHL season, Medicine Hat Tigers GM/Coach Pat Ginnell traded blows with a linesman during a bench clearing brawl against the Lethbridge Broncos. Ginnell was found guilty of assault, fined $360, suspended for 36 games by the WHL. In March 1982 a violent brawl between the Regina Pats and Calgary Wranglers saw the two teams collectively fined $2250 and players suspended for 73 games combined.
Pats coach Bill LaForge would end up in a courtroom that season when he got into an altercation with a fan. LaForge was acquitted when the judge noted that it was hard to convict a man for assault when faced with "an obnoxious person trying to get into the coach's area." LaForge resigned following the sea
The Lethbridge Hurricanes are a Canadian major junior ice hockey team members of the Eastern Conference of the Western Hockey League. The team is based in Lethbridge and play their home games at the ENMAX Centre; when the Lethbridge Broncos returned to their original home in Swift Current following the 1985–86 season, hockey fans in Lethbridge did not have to wait long for a new team. The team's crowning achievement came in 1996–97, when the Hurricanes captured their first, to date only, WHL Championship; the Hurricanes finished as Memorial Cup runners-up when they lost the title game to the Hull Olympiques. That same year, they won their division title and the regular season title. In the 2007–08 season, the Hurricanes won the Eastern Conference Championship; the team changed its logo for the 2013–14 season per requests from the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, who claim the former Hurricanes’ logo was too similar to theirs. Despite the optimism going into the season under new Head Coach Drake Berehowsky, who replaced the fired Rich Preston, the 2013–14 season would be a record-setting one, but in the wrong categories.
Some notable occurrences saw veteran forwards Sam McKechnie and Jaimen Yakuboski sent home until both players were dealt to the Seattle Thunderbirds in October. A week third year defenseman Ryan Pilon requested a trade and left the team. Pilon got his wish and was dealt to the Brandon Wheat Kings in a multiplayer deal shortly afterwards. In addition to two more players requesting trades, the team endured a public relations nightmare when Assistant Coach Brad Lukowich walked out on the team following a 3–2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. Lukowich was terminated "with cause" days later; the team hit new lows by scoring a franchise-low 171 goals, allowing 358 goals and earned notoriety by losing two games by a combined score of 22–0. The team capped off the season on a 15-game losing streak, finishing the year at 12–55–2–3 with 29 points, the League's lowest point total, placing them in last place in the entire WHL; the 12 wins and 29 points set records for fewest wins and fewest points in the 26-year history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, the 46-year history of the franchise that began as the Winnipeg Jets.
In recent years, the community-owned franchise has faced serious financial problems, which came to light during the 2013–14 season. The team lost upwards of $1.25 million in a two-year period and has gone as far as having to scale back on their marketing campaigns and player accommodations on road trips. In March 2014, the team revealed it had to take out a line of credit in order to meet financial goals; the financial situation of the team has led to internet rumours of the team being sold to True North Sports and Entertainment and relocated to Winnipeg, while former Hurricanes forward and Lethbridge native Kris Versteeg has publicly stated his desire to purchase the team and keep it in the city. As the losses continued to pile up and the fan interest waning, the team fired Head Coach Drake Berehowsky on December 9 and General Manager Brad Robson on December 10, hired former Prince Albert Raiders Head Coach Peter Anholt to both positions that day. Anholt stepped down as coach, but stayed on as general manager, hired 33 year old Brent Kisio away from the Calgary Hitmen as the team's new head coach.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against 1989–90: Loss, 1-4 vs Kamloops 1990–91: Loss, 0-4 vs Spokane 1996–97: Win, 4-0 vs Seattle 2007–08: Loss, 0-4 vs Spokane List of ice hockey teams in Alberta Western Hockey League website 2005–06 WHL Guide Lethbridge Hurricanes site
2000–01 NHL season
The 2000–01 NHL season was the 84th regular season of the National Hockey League. Thirty teams each played 82 games; the Stanley Cup winners were the Colorado Avalanche, who won the best of seven series 4–3 against the New Jersey Devils. The focus of Colorado's Stanley Cup run was on star defenseman Ray Bourque, on a quest to win his first Stanley Cup championship in his illustrious 22-year career; as of 2019, this was the last time that both teams who clinched conference went to the Stanley Cup finals. Two expansion teams, the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets, joined the league at the beginning of the season, increasing the number of NHL teams to 30; the Blue Jackets would join the Central Division. This divisional alignment would remain static until the 2013–14 season; this was the first time the NHL would have a team in Minnesota since the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas, Texas in 1993, the first time for Ohio since the Cleveland Barons merged with the North Stars in 1978.
The Dallas Stars played their final season at the Reunion Arena before moving to the American Airlines Center in 2001. On December 27, 2000, Mario Lemieux returned from his three-and-a-half-year retirement and, in a game nationally televised on Hockey Night in Canada, registered his first assist 33 seconds into the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he went on to add a goal and finish with three points, solidifying his return and bringing a struggling Jaromir Jagr back to his elite status, who went on to win his fourth straight Art Ross Trophy, narrowly surpassing Joe Sakic. Despite playing in only 43 games in 2000–01, Lemieux scored 76 points to finish 26th in scoring, finishing the season with the highest points-per-game average that season among NHL players. Lemieux was one of the three finalists for the Hart Memorial Lester B. Pearson Award; the record for most shutouts in a season was eclipsed. Note: CR = Conference rank. Note: CR = Conference rank. Note: CR = Conference rank. Divisions: AT – Atlantic, NE – Northeast, SE – Southeast Z- Clinched Conference.
Note: CR = Conference rank. Note: CR = Conference rank. Divisions: CEN – Central, PAC – Pacific, NW – Northwest bold – Qualified for playoffs; the Washington Capitals, another Stanley Cup favorite, were knocked out in the first round by their longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The darkhorse Penguins made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final, where they were dispatched in five games by the New Jersey Devils. During the first three rounds home ice is determined by seeding number, not position on the bracket. In the Finals the team with the better regular season record has home ice; the presentation ceremonies were held in Toronto. Atlanta Thrashers: Curt Fraser Boston Bruins: Mike Keenan Buffalo Sabres: Lindy Ruff Carolina Hurricanes: Paul Maurice Florida Panthers: Duane Sutter Montreal Canadiens: Michel Therrien New Jersey Devils: Larry Robinson New York Islanders: Butch Goring and Lorne Henning New York Rangers: Ron Low Ottawa Senators: Jacques Martin Philadelphia Flyers: Craig Ramsay and Bill Barber Pittsburgh Penguins: Ivan Hlinka Tampa Bay Lightning: Steve Ludzik Toronto Maple Leafs: Pat Quinn Washington Capitals: Ron Wilson Mighty Ducks of Anaheim: Guy Charron Calgary Flames: Don Hay Chicago Blackhawks: Alpo Suhonen Colorado Avalanche: Bob Hartley Columbus Blue Jackets: Dave King Dallas Stars: Ken Hitchcock Detroit Red Wings: Scotty Bowman Edmonton Oilers: Craig MacTavish Los Angeles Kings: Andy Murray Minnesota Wild: Jacques Lemaire Nashville Predators: Barry Trotz Phoenix Coyotes: Bobby Francis San Jose Sharks: Darryl Sutter St. Louis Blues: Joel Quenneville Vancouver Canucks: Marc Crawford Note: GP = Games played.
Goal (ice hockey)
In ice hockey, a goal is scored when the puck crosses the goal line between the two goal posts and below the goal crossbar. A goal awards one point to the team attacking the goal scored upon, regardless of which team the player who deflected the puck into the goal belongs to. A player on the team attempting to score shoots the puck with their stick towards the goal net opening, a player on the opposing team called a goaltender tries to block the shot to prevent a goal from being scored against their team; the term goal may refer to the structure in which goals are scored. The ice hockey goal is rectangular in shape. A net is attached to the back of the frame to catch pucks that enter the goal and to prevent pucks from entering it from behind; the entire goal is considered an inbounds area of the playing surface, it is legal to play the puck behind the goal. Under NHL rules, the opening of the goal is 72 inches wide by 48 inches tall, the footprint of the goal is 44 inches deep; the object of the game of ice hockey is to score more goals than the opposing team.
Goaltenders and defencemen are concerned with keeping the other team from scoring a goal, while forwards are concerned with scoring goals on the other team. Forwards have to be defensively responsible while defencemen need to press offensively, it is not unknown for goalies to attempt to position the puck for a counterattack, or attempt to shoot against an unguarded net. For a goal to be scored, the puck must cross the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar of the goal frame. A goal is not allowed under any of the following conditions: the puck is sent into the goal from a stick raised above the height of the crossbar the puck is intentionally kicked, batted, or thrown into the net by an attacking player; the puck breaks into two or more pieces prior to any portion of it entering the goal. Additionally, in many leagues, a goal does not count if a player from the attacking team has a skate or stick in the goal crease before the puck; the National Hockey League abolished this rule starting in the 1999-2000 season after the disputed triple-overtime goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals.
Brett Hull of the Dallas Stars scored the series-clinching goal against the Buffalo Sabres. There are those. A goal may be awarded if a player would be awarded a penalty shot, but the opposing team had substituted a skater for a goaltender. I such rare cases, a goal is awarded rather than allowing a penalty shot attempt on an empty goal net; the last player on the goal-scoring team to touch the puck before it goes into the net is credited with scoring that goal. Zero, one, or two other players on the goal-scoring team may credited with an assist for helping their teammate to score the goal. If another player on the goal-scoring team touched the puck to help score the goal before the goal-scoring player touched it without an opposing player intervening that player gets an assist. If yet another player on the goal-scoring team touched the puck before that without an opposing player intervening that player gets an assist. For a hockey player, a goal or an assist credited to them is considered a point.
However, a rule says. This means one player cannot be credited with a goal and an assist for the same goal scored, it means that one player cannot be credited with two assists for the same goal scored. On a hockey team, forwards score the most goals and get the most points, although defensemen can score goals and get assists. In professional play, goaltenders only get an assist, only rarely score a goal when the opposite net is empty; the number of goals scored is a watched statistic. Each year the Rocket Richard Trophy is presented to the NHL player to have scored the most goals; the trophy is named after Maurice Richard, the first player to score 50 goals in a season, at a time when the NHL regular season was only 50 games. The player to have scored the most goals in an NHL season is Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky is the fastest to 50 goals; the overall amount of goal scoring is closely watched. In recent years, goal scoring has decreased. Many believe the game is less entertaining beca
Sweden the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres, Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre; the highest concentration is in the southern half of the country. Germanic peoples have inhabited Sweden since prehistoric times, emerging into history as the Geats and Swedes and constituting the sea peoples known as the Norsemen. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, while the north is forested. Sweden is part of the geographical area of Fennoscandia; the climate is in general mild for its northerly latitude due to significant maritime influence, that in spite of this still retains warm continental summers.
Today, the sovereign state of Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a monarch as head of state, like its neighbour Norway. The capital city is Stockholm, the most populous city in the country. Legislative power is vested in the 349-member unicameral Riksdag. Executive power is exercised by the government chaired by the prime minister. Sweden is a unitary state divided into 21 counties and 290 municipalities. An independent Swedish state emerged during the early 12th century. After the Black Death in the middle of the 14th century killed about a third of the Scandinavian population, the Hanseatic League threatened Scandinavia's culture and languages; this led to the forming of the Scandinavian Kalmar Union in 1397, which Sweden left in 1523. When Sweden became involved in the Thirty Years War on the Reformist side, an expansion of its territories began and the Swedish Empire was formed; this became one of the great powers of Europe until the early 18th century. Swedish territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were lost during the 18th and 19th centuries, ending with the annexation of present-day Finland by Russia in 1809.
The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Norway was militarily forced into personal union. Since Sweden has been at peace, maintaining an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs; the union with Norway was peacefully dissolved in 1905. Sweden was formally neutral through both world wars and the Cold War, albeit Sweden has since 2009 moved towards cooperation with NATO. After the end of the Cold War, Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995, but declined NATO membership, as well as Eurozone membership following a referendum, it is a member of the United Nations, the Nordic Council, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Sweden maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens, it has the world's eleventh-highest per capita income and ranks in numerous metrics of national performance, including quality of life, education, protection of civil liberties, economic competitiveness, equality and human development.
The name Sweden was loaned from Dutch in the 17th century to refer to Sweden as an emerging great power. Before Sweden's imperial expansion, Early Modern English used Swedeland. Sweden is derived through back-formation from Old English Swēoþēod, which meant "people of the Swedes"; this word is derived from Sweon/Sweonas. The Swedish name Sverige means "realm of the Swedes", excluding the Geats in Götaland. Variations of the name Sweden are used in most languages, with the exception of Danish and Norwegian using Sverige, Faroese Svøríki, Icelandic Svíþjóð, the more notable exception of some Finnic languages where Ruotsi and Rootsi are used, names considered as referring to the people from the coastal areas of Roslagen, who were known as the Rus', through them etymologically related to the English name for Russia; the etymology of Swedes, thus Sweden, is not agreed upon but may derive from Proto-Germanic Swihoniz meaning "one's own", referring to one's own Germanic tribe. Sweden's prehistory begins in the Allerød oscillation, a warm period around 12,000 BC, with Late Palaeolithic reindeer-hunting camps of the Bromme culture at the edge of the ice in what is now the country's southernmost province, Scania.
This period was characterised by small bands of hunter-gatherer-fishers using flint technology. Sweden is first described in a written source in Germania by Tacitus in 98 AD. In Germania 44 and 45 he mentions the Swedes as a powerful tribe with ships that had a prow at each end. Which kings ruled these Suiones is unknown, but Norse mythology presents a long line of legendary and semi-legendary kings going back to the last centuries BC; as for literacy in Sweden itself, the runic script was in use among the south Scandinavian elite by at least the 2nd century AD, but all that has come down to the present from the Roman Period is curt inscriptions on artefacts of male names, demonstrating th