National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada; the Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season. The National Hockey League was organized on November 26, 1917, at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association, founded in 1909 in Renfrew, Ontario; the NHL took the NHA's place as one of the leagues that contested for the Stanley Cup in an annual interleague competition before a series of league mergers and folds left the NHL as the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup in 1926. At its inception, the NHL had four teams—all in Canada, thus the adjective "National" in the league's name.
The league expanded to the United States in 1924, when the Boston Bruins joined, has since consisted of American and Canadian teams. From 1942 to 1967, the league had only six teams, collectively nicknamed the "Original Six"; the NHL added six new teams to double its size at the 1967 NHL expansion. The league increased to 18 teams by 1974 and 21 teams in 1979. Between 1991 and 2000, the NHL further expanded to 30 teams, it added its 31st team in 2017 and has approved the addition of a 32nd team in 2021. The league's headquarters have been in New York City since 1989 when the head office moved there from Montreal. After a labour-management dispute that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004–05 season, the league resumed play in 2005–06 under a new collective agreement that included a salary cap. In 2009, the NHL enjoyed record highs in terms of sponsorships and television audiences; the International Ice Hockey Federation considers the Stanley Cup to be one of the "most important championships available to the sport".
The NHL draws many skilled players from all over the world and has players from 20 countries. Canadians have constituted the majority of the players in the league, with an increasing percentage of American and European players in recent seasons; the current NHL Champions are the Washington Capitals, who defeated the Vegas Golden Knights four games to one in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. The National Hockey League was established in 1917 as the successor to the National Hockey Association. Founded in 1909, the NHA began play one year with seven teams in Ontario and Quebec, was one of the first major leagues in professional ice hockey, but by the NHA's eighth season, a series of disputes with Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone led team owners of the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs to hold a meeting to discuss the league's future. Realizing the NHA constitution left them unable to force Livingstone out, the four teams voted instead to suspend the NHA, on November 26, 1917, formed the National Hockey League.
Frank Calder was chosen as its first president, serving until his death in 1943. The Bulldogs were unable to play, the remaining owners created a new team in Toronto, the Arenas, to compete with the Canadiens and Senators; the first games were played on December 19, 1917. The Montreal Arena burned down in January 1918, causing the Wanderers to cease operations, the NHL continued on as a three-team league until the Bulldogs returned in 1919; the NHL replaced the NHA as one of the leagues that competed for the Stanley Cup, an interleague competition back then. Toronto won the first NHL title, defeated the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association for the 1918 Stanley Cup; the Canadiens won the league title in 1919. Montreal in 1924 won their first Stanley Cup as a member of the NHL; the Hamilton Tigers, won the regular season title in 1924–25 but refused to play in the championship series unless they were given a C$200 bonus. The league refused and declared the Canadiens the league champion after they defeated the Toronto St. Patricks in the semi-final.
Montreal was defeated by the Victoria Cougars of the Western Canada Hockey League for the 1925 Stanley Cup. It was the last time a non-NHL team won the trophy, as the Stanley Cup became the de facto NHL championship in 1926 after the WCHL ceased operation; the National Hockey League embarked on rapid expansion in the 1920s, adding the Montreal Maroons and Boston Bruins in 1924. The Bruins were the first American team in the league; the New York Americans began play in 1925 after purchasing the assets of the Hamilton Tigers, were joined by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The New York Rangers were added in 1926; the Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Cougars were added after the league purchased the assets of the defunct WCHL. A group purchased the Toronto St. Patricks in 1927 and renamed them the Maple Leafs; the first NHL All-Star Game was held in 1934 to benefit Ace Bailey, whose career ended on a vicious hit by Eddie Shore. The second was held in 1937 in support of Howie Morenz's family when he died of a coronary embolism after breaking his leg during a game.
The Great Depression and the onset of World War II took a toll on the league. The Pirates became the Philadelphia Quakers in 1930 folded one year later; the Senators became the St. Louis Eagles in 1934 lasting only one
The Atlanta Thrashers were a professional ice hockey team based in Atlanta. Atlanta was granted a franchise in the National Hockey League on June 25, 1997, became the League's 28th franchise when it began play in the 1999–2000 season, they were members of the Southeast Division of the NHL's Eastern Conference, played their home games at Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta. The Thrashers qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs only once, during the 2006–07 season in which they won the Southeast Division, but were swept in the first round by the New York Rangers. In May 2011, the Thrashers were sold to Canadian-based ownership group True North Sports & Entertainment; the group moved the franchise to Winnipeg, which became the second incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets. The sale and relocation were approved by the NHL on June 21, 2011. With the sale and relocation of the team, Atlanta became the first city in the NHL's modern era to have two ice hockey teams relocate to different cities. In both cases, the team moved from Atlanta to a Western Canadian city.
After the departure of the International Hockey League's Atlanta Knights to become the Quebec Rafales, the city of Atlanta was awarded an NHL franchise on June 25, 1997, as part of a four-team tiered expansion. This included teams in Nashville, Columbus and St. Paul, in which each new franchise would begin play as its respective new arena was completed; the birth of the new franchise marked NHL hockey's return to Georgia, as the Atlanta Flames, established in 1972, departed for Canada in 1980 to become the Calgary Flames. The Flames had been the League's first foray into the southern U. S. and their failure discouraged further efforts to bring NHL hockey to the region for another decade. The nickname "Thrashers," after Georgia's state bird, the brown thrasher, was selected from a fan poll. "Thrashers" had been runner-up to "Flames" in the poll, Philips Arena, the Thrashers' new home, was built on the site of the former Omni, home to the Flames. By coincidence, the first encampment which would become Atlanta was called Thrasherville, a historical marker of this is located just down from the arena in front of the State Bar of Georgia.
The newly formed Thrashers selected Patrik Stefan with the first overall selection and Luke Sellars with their 30th overall pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. However, the entire 1999 NHL Entry Draft was a major disappointment for the Thrashers, as all 11 of their draft picks were out of the NHL by the team's last season of existence, their first two picks were called two of the biggest disappointments in draft history. This turn of events was a major surprise, as not only did the media hype Stefan as a franchise player, but hockey experts considered then-Thrashers General Manager Don Waddell to be a man with excellent scouting ability; the Thrashers played their first game on October 1999, losing 4 -- 1 to the New Jersey Devils. Captain Kelly Buchberger scored the franchise's first goal in the loss and the team went on to finish their first season in last place in the Southeast Division, with a record of 14 wins, 61 losses and seven ties for a total of 39 points. Atlanta had the second overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
The team had a fine choice in the 2001 Draft, with first overall pick Ilya Kovalchuk. Both Heatley and Kovalchuk played their first season in the NHL in 2001–02; the early years of the Atlanta Thrashers saw a sharp increase of hockey fans in Atlanta. Ticket sales for Thrashers games averaged at 10,000 per night, with many of them being season tickets; the overall experience of a Thrasher's game was unique compared to other Atlanta teams. A section of the arena was dedicated to season ticket holders that called themselves the "Nasty Nest"; the "Nasty Nest" would shout at the opposing team to disrupt them while they played. The Thrashers had two Thrasher bird heads that would face opposite to the scoreboard; the Thrasher heads would open their beaks to reveal a flamethrower, which would ignite when the team scored a goal. It was at this time that the franchise adopted a motto "Believe in Blueland", used in advertising. Marcel Comeau was named director of amateur scouting for the Thrashers, on July 9, 2003, stayed in the role until the team was sold.
On September 21, 2003, Time Warner, the owners of both the Thrashers and the National Basketball Association's Atlanta Hawks, sold both teams to Atlanta Spirit, LLC, a group consisting of businessmen based both in Atlanta and elsewhere. Tragedy struck the team just eight days after the sale, as star forward Dany Heatley crashed his Ferrari in a one-car accident that injured both himself and Thrashers center Dan Snyder. Heatley suffered a broken jaw and arm, a sprained wrist and a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament; the Thrashers dedicated their entire 2003–04 season to Snyder's memory, Thrashers players wore black patches with Snyd
The Stanley Cup is the championship trophy awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoff winner. It is the oldest existing trophy to be awarded to a professional sports franchise, the International Ice Hockey Federation considers it to be one of the "most important championships available to the sport"; the trophy was commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup and is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada who donated it as an award to Canada's top-ranking amateur ice hockey club. The entire Stanley family supported the sport, the sons and daughters all playing and promoting the game; the first Cup was awarded in 1893 to Montreal Hockey Club, winners from 1893 to 1914 were determined by challenge games and league play. Professional teams first became eligible to challenge for the Stanley Cup in 1906. In 1915, professional ice hockey organizations National Hockey Association and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association reached a gentlemen's agreement in which their respective champions would face each other annually for the Stanley Cup.
It was established as the de facto championship trophy of the NHL in 1926 and the de jure NHL championship prize in 1947. There are three Stanley Cups: the original bowl of the "Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup", the authenticated "Presentation Cup", the spelling-corrected "Permanent Cup" on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame; the NHL has maintained its associated trademarks. The NHL has registered trademarks associated with the name and likeness of the Stanley Cup, although there has been dispute as to whether the league has the right to own trademarks associated with a trophy that it does not own; the original bowl is 18.5 centimetres high and 29 centimetres wide. The current Stanley Cup is topped with a copy of the original bowl, made of a silver and nickel alloy, it weighs 15.5 kilograms. A new Stanley Cup is not made each year, unlike the trophies awarded by the other major professional sports leagues of North America; the winners kept it until a new champion was crowned, but winning teams get the Stanley Cup during the summer and a limited number of days during the season.
Every year since 1924, a select portion of the winning players, coaches and club staff names are engraved on its bands, unusual among trophies. However, there is not enough room to include all the players and non-players, so some names must be omitted. Between 1924 and 1940, a new band was added every year that the trophy was awarded, earning the nickname "Stovepipe Cup" due to the unnatural height of all the bands. In 1947, the cup size was reduced. In 1958, the modern one-piece Cup was designed with a five-band barrel which could contain 13 winning teams per band; the oldest band is removed when the bottom band is full and preserved in the Hockey Hall of Fame in order to prevent the Stanley Cup from growing, a new blank band added to the bottom. It has been referred to as The Cup, Lord Stanley's Cup, The Holy Grail, or facetiously as Lord Stanley's Mug; the Stanley Cup is surrounded by numerous legends and traditions, the oldest of, the winning team drinking champagne from it. Since the 1914–15 season, the Cup has been won a combined 101 times by 18 current NHL teams and 5 defunct teams.
It was not awarded in 1919 because of a Spanish flu epidemic or in 2005 because of the 2004–05 NHL lockout. It was held by nine different teams between 1893 and 1914; the Montreal Canadiens have won it a record 24 times and are the most recent Canadian-based team to win it, doing so in 1993. After the Lord Stanley of Preston was appointed by Queen Victoria as Governor General of Canada on June 11, 1888, he and his family became enthusiastic about ice hockey. Stanley was first exposed to the game at Montreal's 1889 Winter Carnival, where he saw the Montreal Victorias play the Montreal Hockey Club; the Montreal Gazette reported that he "expressed his great delight with the game of hockey and the expertise of the players". During that time, organized ice hockey in Canada was still in its infancy and only Montreal and Ottawa had anything resembling leagues. Stanley's entire family became active in ice hockey. Two of his sons and Algernon, formed a new team called the Ottawa Rideau Hall Rebels. Arthur played a key role in the formation of what became known as the Ontario Hockey Association, became the founder of ice hockey in Great Britain.
Arthur and Algernon persuaded their father to donate a trophy to be "an outward and visible sign of the hockey championship". Stanley sent the following message to the victory celebration held on March 18, 1892, at Ottawa's Russell House Hotel for the three-time champion Ottawa Hockey Club: I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion. There does not appear to be any such outward sign of a championship at present, considering the general interest which matches now elicit, the importance of having the game played and under rules recognized, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held from year to year by the winning team. I am not quite certain that the present regulations governing the arrangement of matches give entire satisfaction, it would be worth consid
Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice in a rink, in which two teams of skaters use their sticks to shoot a vulcanized rubber puck into their opponent's net to score points. The sport is known to be fast-paced and physical, with teams consisting of six players each: one goaltender, five players who skate up and down the ice trying to take the puck and score a goal against the opposing team. Ice hockey is most popular in Canada and eastern Europe, the Nordic countries and the United States. Ice hockey is the official national winter sport of Canada. In addition, ice hockey is the most popular winter sport in Belarus, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia and Switzerland. North America's National Hockey League is the highest level for men's ice hockey and the strongest professional ice hockey league in the world; the Kontinental Hockey League is much of Eastern Europe. The International Ice Hockey Federation is the formal governing body for international ice hockey, with the IIHF managing international tournaments and maintaining the IIHF World Ranking.
Worldwide, there are ice hockey federations in 76 countries. In Canada, the United States, Nordic countries, some other European countries the sport is known as hockey. Ice hockey is believed to have evolved from simple stick and ball games played in the 18th and 19th century United Kingdom and elsewhere; these games were brought to North America and several similar winter games using informal rules as they were developed, such as "shinny" and "ice polo". The contemporary sport of ice hockey was developed in Canada, most notably in Montreal, where the first indoor hockey game was played on March 3, 1875; some characteristics of that game, such as the length of the ice rink and the use of a puck, have been retained to this day. Amateur ice hockey leagues began in the 1880s, professional ice hockey originated around 1900; the Stanley Cup, emblematic of ice hockey club supremacy, was first awarded in 1893 to recognize the Canadian amateur champion and became the championship trophy of the NHL. In the early 1900s, the Canadian rules were adopted by the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace, the precursor of the IIHF and the sport was played for the first time at the Olympics during the 1920 Summer Olympics.
In international competitions, the national teams of six countries predominate: Canada, Czech Republic, Russia and the United States. Of the 69 medals awarded all-time in men's competition at the Olympics, only seven medals were not awarded to one of those countries. In the annual Ice Hockey World Championships, 177 of 201 medals have been awarded to the six nations. Teams outside the "Big Six" have won only five medals in either competition since 1953; the World Cup of Hockey is organized by the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association, unlike the annual World Championships and quadrennial Olympic tournament, both run by the International Ice Hockey Federation. World Cup games are played under NHL rules and not those of the IIHF, the tournament occurs prior to the NHL pre-season, allowing for all NHL players to be available, unlike the World Championships, which overlaps with the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs. Furthermore, all 12 Women's Olympic and 36 IIHF World Women's Championships medals were awarded to one of these six countries.
The Canadian national team or the United States national team have between them won every gold medal of either series. In England, field hockey has been called "hockey" and what was referenced by first appearances in print; the first known mention spelled as "hockey" occurred in the 1773 book Juvenile Sports and Pastimes, to Which Are Prefixed, Memoirs of the Author: Including a New Mode of Infant Education, by Richard Johnson, whose chapter XI was titled "New Improvements on the Game of Hockey". The 1573 Statute of Galway banned a sport called "'hokie'—the hurling of a little ball with sticks or staves". A form of this word was thus being used in the 16th century, though much removed from its current usage; the belief that hockey was mentioned in a 1363 proclamation by King Edward III of England is based on modern translations of the proclamation, in Latin and explicitly forbade the games "Pilam Manualem, Pedivam, & Bacularem: & ad Canibucam & Gallorum Pugnam". The English historian and biographer John Strype did not use the word "hockey" when he translated the proclamation in 1720, instead translating "Canibucam" as "Cambuck".
According to the Austin Hockey Association, the word "puck" derives from the Scottish Gaelic puc or the Irish poc. "... The blow given by a hurler to the ball with his camán or hurley is always called a puck." Stick-and-ball games date back to pre-Christian times. In Europe, these games included the Irish game of hurling, the related Scottish game of shinty and versions of field hockey. IJscolf, a game resembling colf on an ice-covered surface, was popular in the Low Countries between the Middle Ages and the Dutch Golden Age, it was played with a wooden curved bat, a wooden or leather ball and two poles, with t
2011–12 NHL season
The 2011–12 NHL season was the 95th season of operation of the National Hockey League. The Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final four games to two to win the team's first Stanley Cup in their second Stanley Cup final appearance. During the off-season, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to become the "new" Winnipeg Jets, it was the first NHL team relocation since the 1997–98 season, when the Hartford Whalers relocated to become the Carolina Hurricanes. The league did not change its divisional structure to accommodate the move, the Jets took the place of the Thrashers in the Southeast Division. In December 2011, the board of governors approved a proposed realignment for the following season, which would result in four conferences with the first two rounds of the playoffs being divisional, but this was rejected by the NHL Players' Association, it was the fifth consecutive season with games in Europe at the start of the season. The Winter Classic was held on January 2, 2012, in Philadelphia between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers.
The 59th All-Star Game was held at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, the home arena of the Ottawa Senators, on January 29, 2012. Atlanta Spirit, LLC, which owned the Atlanta Thrashers, sold the team to True North Sports and Entertainment, who relocated them to the True North-owned MTS Centre in Winnipeg and renamed the Winnipeg Jets, after a previous NHL team in the market. Winnipeg took Atlanta's place in the Southeast Division for 2011–12. On June 23, 2011, the NHL announced; as a result, the new salary cap ceiling was set at $64.3 million while the salary cap floor was $48.3 million. Several teams announced plans to change their uniforms in the 2011–12 season; the Edmonton Oilers unveiled a new away uniform parallel to their "retro" home uniform used from 1979 to 1996. They retained the navy blue and red uniforms as their alternates; the Nashville Predators unveiled new home and away uniforms on June 22, complete with the updated saber-toothed cat logo. Their use of gold as the home colors marked the first time since 1988 that an NHL team wore gold in their home uniforms.
The Florida Panthers made minor changes to their home uniform, using red as the primary and relegating navy blue as a trim color. The Los Angeles Kings returned to the silver and black motif they used from 1988 to 1998, by designating their alternate home black and silver uniform as a regular uniform and unveiling a new white away uniform with black and silver trim; the purple and black uniform were retained as an alternate uniform. The Ottawa Senators unveiled a new alternate home uniform based on the original Senators barber pole design; the uniform does not use the Roman centurion logo. The Senators' uniform will have an All-Star Game patch; the Pittsburgh Penguins promoted their dark blue uniforms, worn during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic, as the home alternates, replacing the 2008 NHL Winter Classic alternates. The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled new home and road uniforms, featuring the simplified lightning logo; the uniforms were blue and white, but by popular demand, black was added as a trim color to the uniform numbers, added the lightning bolt to the pants.
The "Bolts" alternate home uniform was retained. The Toronto Maple Leafs unveiled a new alternate home uniform based on the Leafs uniforms worn during their run to the 1967 Stanley Cup title, including the 11-point maple leaf logo; the Washington Capitals promoted their 2011 NHL Winter Classic retro uniforms as their road alternates. The new Winnipeg Jets unveiled uniforms consisting of navy with silver and light blue trim, containing a logo based on the roundel of the Royal Canadian Air Force; the New York Islanders unveiled a new black alternate uniform, featuring the team name above the player's number, a similar template the Dallas Stars' uniforms use. Speaking of the Stars, they retired their alternate away jersey featuring the team crest, instead using their regular away jerseys with the city name and number in front for all 41 road games; the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers wore special commemorative uniforms for the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. The Flyers unveiled theirs on November 21, is in a classic sweater design in orange featuring black numbers and different striping patterns on the yoke.
The Rangers unveiled theirs on November 28, features a mix of designs used from previous jerseys. The shield logo in front is a variation of the logos used during the 1930s–1940s, while the shoulder and tail striping was taken from the current jersey. Both teams would wear their Winter Classic uniforms again on February 5 and 11 at Madison Square Garden and Wells Fargo Center with the away team wearing the regular uniforms. In addition several teams sported memorial patches throughout the season. Unless specified, the patches were seen on the team helmets: Anaheim Ducks – Ruslan Salei memorial on uniforms Calgary Flames – Harley Hotchkiss memorial Carolina Hurricanes – Josef Vasicek memorial.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a professional ice hockey team based in Tampa, Florida. It is a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League; the Lightning have one Stanley Cup championship in their history, in 2003–04. The team is referred to as the Bolts, the nickname was used on the former third jerseys; the Lightning plays home games in Amalie Arena in Tampa. The owner of the Lightning is Jeffrey Vinik; the team is coached by Jon Cooper, who has led the team since 2013. In the late 1980s, the NHL announced. Two rival groups from the Tampa Bay Area decided to bid for a franchise: a St. Petersburg-based group fronted by future Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes owners Peter Karmanos and Jim Rutherford, a Tampa-based group fronted by two Hall of Famers—Phil Esposito and his brother Tony. One of the Esposito group's key backers, the Pritzker family, backed out a few months before the bid, to be replaced by a consortium of Japanese businesses headed by Kokusai Green, a golf course and resort operator.
On paper, it looked. The Esposito group would win the expansion franchise, name the team the Lightning, after Tampa Bay's status as the "Lightning Capital of North America." After being awarded the franchise, Phil Esposito installed himself as president and general manager, while Tony became chief scout. Terry Crisp, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers when they won two Stanley Cups in the mid-1970s and coached the Calgary Flames to a Stanley Cup in 1989, was tapped as the first head coach. Phil Esposito hired former teammates from the Boston Bruins of the 1970s, including former linemate Wayne Cashman as an assistant coach and former Bruin trainer John "Frosty" Forristal as the team's trainer; the inaugural team photo has him flanked by Cashman and player Ken Hodge, Jr. son of his other Bruins' linemate. The Lightning turned heads in the pre-season when Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game, which made her the first woman to play in any of the major professional North American sports leagues.
She played for the Lightning against the St. Louis Blues, stopped seven of nine shots; the Lightning played their first regular season game on October 7, 1992 in Tampa's tiny 11,000-seat Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds. They shocked; the team shot to the top of the Campbell Conference's Norris Division within a month, behind Kontos' initial torrid scoring pace and a breakout season by forward Brian Bradley. However, it buckled under the strain of some of the longest road trips in the NHL—their nearest division rival, the Blues, were over 1,000 miles away—and finished in last place with a record of 23–54–7 for 53 points; this was, at one of the best-ever showings by an NHL expansion team. Bradley's 42 goals gave Tampa Bay fans optimism for the next season; the following season saw the Lightning shift to the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division, as well as move into the Florida Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg, reconfigured for hockey and renamed the "ThunderDome." The team acquired goaltender Daren Puppa, left wing goal scorer Petr Klima, veteran forward Denis Savard.
While Puppa's play resulted in a significant improvement in goals allowed, Savard was long past his prime and Klima's scoring was offset by his defensive lapses. The Lightning finished last in the Atlantic Division in 1993–94 with a record of 30–43–11 for 71 points. Another disappointing season followed in the lockout-shortened 1994–95 season with a record of 17–28–3 for 37 points. In their fourth season, 1995–96, behind Bradley's team-leading 79 points, second-year forward Alexander Selivanov's 31 goals, Roman Hamrlik's All-Star year on defense, the Lightning qualified for the playoffs, posting a 38–33–12 record for 88 points and nosing out the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference by a single win. Due to his stellar play in net, Puppa was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. Playing the Philadelphia Flyers, a team seen as a Stanley Cup contender, in the first round, the Lightning split the opening two games in Philadelphia before taking Game 3 in overtime before a ThunderDome crowd of 28,183.
This was the largest crowd for an NHL game, a record that stood until the 2003 Heritage Classic in Edmonton. An injury to Puppa in that game, would see the Lightning lose the next three games and the series; the Lightning moved into the Ice Palace for the 1996 -- 97 season. They had acquired goal-scorer Dino Ciccarelli from the Detroit Red Wings during the 1996 off-season, he did not disappoint, scoring 35 goals while Chris Gratton notched another 30 goals; the team appeared destined for another playoff appearance, but suffered a devastating rash of injuries. Puppa developed back trouble. Bradley lost time to a series of concussions that would limit him to a total of 49 games from 1996 until his retirement in December 1999. Center John Cullen developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, missed the last 12 games of the 1996–97 season. Decimated by these ailments, the Light
The Winnipeg Jets are a professional ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League; the team plays its home games at Bell MTS Place. The Jets began play as the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999–2000 NHL season. True North Sports & Entertainment bought the team in May 2011 and relocated the franchise from Atlanta to Winnipeg prior to the 2011–12 season; the team was renamed the Jets after Winnipeg's original WHA/NHL team, which relocated after the 1995–96 season to become the Arizona Coyotes. On December 27, 1971, Winnipeg was granted one of the founding franchises in the World Hockey Association. By 1979, the vast majority of the WHA's teams had folded, but the Jets were still going strong and they were absorbed into the NHL along with the Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers and Hartford Whalers as part of the WHA–NHL merger. Team owner Barry Shenkarow sold the team to American businessmen Steven Gluckstern and Richard Burke.
Burke and Gluckstern planned to move the team to Minnesota, but reached an agreement with Phoenix businessman Jerry Colangelo that would see the team move to Arizona and become the Phoenix Coyotes. The original Winnipeg Jets played their last game on April 28, 1996; the city of Atlanta was awarded an NHL expansion franchise, named the Atlanta Thrashers, on June 25, 1997. It was the second NHL franchise for Atlanta; the Thrashers began play in the 1999–2000 season. In their 12 years, the Thrashers qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs only once, during the 2006–07 season, never won a playoff game. Due to their lack of playoff success, the team had difficulty drawing fans to attend their games in their final seasons. Although they moved for financial reasons, the Coyotes have never been profitable in Arizona. Mounting losses compelled the franchise to file for bankruptcy after the 2008-09 season; the team was taken over by the league. As early as October 2009, there were rumours that True North Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns both Winnipeg's Bell MTS Place and the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose and is chaired by Mark Chipman, had been invited to bid on the city's former franchise.
TNSE submitted a series of bids for the Coyotes, which were taken enough that the league drew up a tentative schedule with Winnipeg in place of Phoenix. The NHL shelved the bid after securing a large subsidy from the Coyotes' municipal government. In contrast to aggressive, public bids by Jim Balsillie, True North's low-key approach was praised by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and other owners, raising their profile when the question of the Thrashers' relocation came up. On May 20, 2011, the Winnipeg Sun confirmed that an agreement in principle had been reached for True North to purchase the Thrashers, while Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz announced that he was confident that the Thrashers' relocation to Winnipeg would soon be announced. On May 31, 2011, at a press conference at the MTS Centre, Bettman confirmed that the Atlanta Thrashers had been sold to True North and would relocate to Winnipeg for the 2011–12 season, pending the approval of the sale and relocation by the NHL's Board of Governors, which came at their June 21, 2011, meeting.
The reported purchase price was $170 million, with $60 million going to the NHL as a relocation fee. After the announcement, True North made preparations to move the Moose franchise to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Season ticket sales began June 2011, with Manitoba Moose season ticket holders having priority; the team sought to sell 13,000 season tickets in an effort to prove its viability. Within the first three and a half hours, the new franchise sold 1,870 packages to Moose season ticket holders. Season tickets sold out in 17 minutes. Once the "Drive to 13,000" was completed, True North started a season ticket waiting list, shut down after 8,000 people signed up in two hours. In July 2011, tickets for October 9 home opener against the Montreal Canadiens were listed for an average price of $1,711 on Stubhub, with an average selling price of $713. True North said the team's name would not be announced until after the successful completion of the season ticket drive at the earliest; the team was not to be named the Thrashers, since True North did not acquire the name in the transaction, the rights to that name and the Thrashers logo were retained by the ownership group in Atlanta.
There was considerable support in Winnipeg to reuse "Winnipeg Jets", the name of the city's original WHA and NHL franchise, though rumours spread that True North preferred "Manitoba Moose". "Whiteout" and "Falcons" were considered, but the latter was rejected in deference to Atlanta, which has another professional sports team by that name. True North kept their selection secret until the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 24, when Chipman introduced General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to "make our first pick, on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets."Before the franchise relocation was completed, True North bought out the remaining years of General Manager Rick Dudley's contract on June 4, 2011. Thrashers President Don Waddell, with the franchise since its inception, had earlier announced he