Skip to main content

As the NHL celebrates 100 years, look back at NHL history by the numbers

The NHL is celebrating its 100th birthday, so take a look back through a century of history by the numbers.

As the NHL celebrates its 100th anniversary, look back at a century of NHL history by the numbers:

1 — Montreal Wanderers defenseman Dave Ritchie scores the first goal in NHL history. He goes on to play 58 career games in the NHL, finishing his career with the Canadiens in 1925-26.

2 — Over the course of 100 years, 11 goaltenders have registered goals in NHL contests, but Ron Hextall is the only netminder who has fired home two tallies. He scored his first in December 1987, following it up with a playoff goal in April 1989. Martin Brodeur has three career goals, but two were own goals credited to the netminder.

3 — Plenty of great playoff performers have won the Conn Smythe Trophy, but no one in league history has a better track record of showing up when it matters most than Patrick Roy. Four times Roy’s teams won the Stanley Cup, and three times he captured the Conn Smythe.

4 — In 1966-67, an 18-year-old defenseman from Parry Sound, Ont., wearing No. 4 debuts with the Boston Bruins. Bobby Orr wins the Calder Trophy before capturing eight straight Norris Trophies. He scores the most iconic goal in NHL history – the Stanley Cup-winning goal against the St. Louis Blues – in his third season.

5 — From 1955-56 to 1959-60, the Montreal Canadiens reigned supreme. No team had won more than three Stanley Cups in a row before the Canadiens dynasty and no team since has been able to match Montreal’s run of five straight Stanley Cups.

6 — In 1981-82, the NHL changed the way in which the Vezina Trophy was awarded. Formerly given to the goaltender with the fewest goals against, the league decided it was to be awarded to the league’s best goaltender as judged by NHL GMs. Under those rules, no netminder has won more Vezinas than Dominik Hasek's six.

7 — One of the longest-standing records belongs to Joe Malone, who had himself the best goal-scoring night in NHL history on Jan. 31, 1920. Malone scored seven goals, a feat that hasn’t been matched or surpassed since.

8 — The league has expanded several times to varying results, but no franchise has gotten off to a worse start than the Washington Capitals. In 1974-75, Washington won eight games. No team has ever won fewer games in a season.

9 — Gordie Howe is, was and will always be ‘Mr. Hockey.’ A legend of the game, the favorite player of arguably the greatest player of all-time, Wayne Gretzky, and an icon of not just hockey, but sport. Before Gretzky came along, Howe was the greatest scorer of all-time.

10 — A Hall of Famer and 1,000-game, 1,000-point player, Darryl Sittler had himself some great games over the course of his career. None like his 10-point on Feb. 7, 1976, however. Sittler scored early and often, putting up 10 points – on six goals and four assists – to set an NHL record which stands today.

11 — Those in charge of engraving the Stanley Cup must have gotten tired of inscribing Henri Richard’s name on the sport’s top prize. Richard won the Stanley Cup 11 times over the course of his career, more than any player in league history.

12 — Jari Kurri became one of the game’s most brilliant goal-scorers as Wayne Gretzky’s wingman, but at no time was Kurri’s goal-scoring ability on greater display than the 1985 post-season when he lit up the Chicago Blackhawks for 12 goals in six games. It remains a post-season record for goals in a series.

13 — For a number associated with bad luck, hockey players, a traditionally superstitious bunch, have had no issue pulling on the No. 13 jersey. All told, 107 players have worn the unlucky digit, with Mats Sundin the highest-scoring of the bunch.

14 — Scotty Bowman has never stepped foot on NHL ice as a player, but there’s no one who has been as successful behind the bench or as part of team management. Bowman has 14 Stanley Cups to his name, nine as a coach and five while working in the front office.

15 — Mike Gartner and Jaromir Jagr are two of the greatest examples of consistency and longevity in NHL history. Both scored at least 30 goals for 15 straight seasons during their careers. No other player, not even Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe or Mario Lemieux, can match that.

16 — On March 3, 1920, the Montreal Canadiens strolled into the Quebec Athletic Club and absolutely trounced the Bulldogs, scoring 16 times in a goal explosion that has gone unmatched since.

17 — It’s a scenario played out on driveways and backyard rinks everywhere: scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in overtime. But only 17 players have made the dream come true. Los Angeles Kings’ defenseman Alec Martinez was the most recent, scoring in overtime of Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup final.

18 — Across the 100-year history of the NHL, 18 teams have won the Stanley Cup. Five teams are one-time winners, there are three two-time winners, seven teams with three or more victories and three teams with 10-plus championships.

19 — Reggie Leach scored 19 goals for the Flyers during a brilliant playoff run in 1975-76, but Philadelphia was swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the final. Despite the loss, Leach became the first — and only — non-goaltender to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as a member of the losing team.

20 — Introduced post-lockout, the shootout has become a fixture of NHL action, but no two teams have been forced to duel it out quite like the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers did on Dec. 16, 2014. The teams went through 20 rounds before Florida's Nick Bjugstad ended the evening.

21 — Bill Mosienko had a Hall of Fame career, during which he scored 258 goals and 540 points in 711 games. He’ll be forever remembered for a 21-second span on March 23, 1952. Mosienko scored three goals in 21 seconds to register the fastest hat trick in NHL history.

22 — The 1928-29 Montreal Canadiens were as dominant a defensive bunch as the NHL has ever seen. Led by Hall of Fame goaltender George Hainsworth, the Canadiens shut out opponents in 22 of their 44 games.

23 — Quite possibly the most brilliant run in NHL history by a second-string goaltender came in 2014-15 when Andrew Hammond, called up from the AHL by the Ottawa Senators, put together a 20-1-2 record, .943 save percentage and 1.41 goals-against average in 23 games to end the season. Hammond finished seventh in Vezina voting.

24 — No team throughout NHL history has had greater success than the Montreal Canadiens, who have won 24 Stanley Cups while being guided by some of the best talents the game has ever seen. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, second and third in all-time Cup wins, have combined for 24 titles.

25 — Only two goaltenders in NHL history have won six Stanley Cups: Ken Dryden and Jacques Plante. But it’s the former who holds the record for most wins in the final, picking up 25 victories with the Stanley Cup on the line.

26 — Gordie Howe is often recognized as the NHL’s longest-tenured player, but Chris Chelios actually matched ‘Mr. Hockey’ in seasons played. Both suited up in 26 campaigns, with Chelios ending his career in 2009-10 after beginning in 1983-84.

27 — Since being introduced in 1953-54, 27 players have won the Norris Trophy. Bobby Orr leads the pack with eight wins, Doug Harvey and Nicklas Lidstrom are tied with seven and Ray Bourque is third all-time with five.

28 — Paul Coffey, the second-highest scoring defenseman in NHL history, brought new meaning to offensive consistency for blueliners. During the 1985-86 season, he was a constant on the scoresheet, registering points in 28 straight games.

29 — Wayne Gretzky’s time atop the league was highlighted by 10 Art Ross Trophies. He’s one of fourteen players to win the award multiple times and one of 29 players who has won the award since it was introduced in 1947-48.

30 — Coming over to the NHL wasn’t easy for the Winnipeg Jets. The class of the WHA, Winnipeg struggled to find their footing once absorbed by the NHL and the 1980-81 season saw them reach the height of their struggles. From Oct. 19, 1980, to Dec. 20, 1980, the Jets failed to win a single game, going 0-23-7.

31 — To kick off the 2017-18 season, the league introduced its 31st franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, and the expansion team has continued to set records and milestones with one of the most successful debuts in league history.

32 — Sticking with the expansion theme, the NHL has already begun flirting with the idea of adding another team. Seattle has been given the green light to pursue a season-ticket drive and a price tag of $650 million has been attached to a potential expansion team in the market.

33 — The 1928-29 Black Hawks set a record for offensive futility. Across 44 games, Chicago scored 33 goals. Coincidentally, in the modern era with lengthier seasons, the fewest goals for is 133, a record also held by the Black Hawks.

34 — How prolific was Wayne Gretzky? Well, if this were the 1981-82 season, Gretzky would have already reached 100 points by now. He scored 100 points in 34 games that season, finishing the year with 212 points.

35 — The term unbeatable gets thrown around from time to time, but the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers embodied it for nearly half a season. The Flyers went 35 games without a loss, racking up 25 wins and 10 ties, spanning from Oct. 14, 1979, to Jan. 6, 1980. The undefeated streak remains the NHL’s longest.

36 — The 1980s Oilers were known for their inescapable firepower. Even on the penalty kill, Edmonton was always attacking. And in 1983-84, the Oilers set an NHL record with 36 shorthanded tallies.

37 — Only one goaltender in NHL history has reached the 600-win plateau: Martin Brodeur. And he did so well before his career was up, reaching the mark as a 37-year-old.

38 — Brett Hull established himself as one of the greatest pure goal-scorers in NHL history and a tremendous triggerman on the man advantage. During his remarkable career registered 38 power play goals in the playoffs, a league record.

39 — Wayne Gretzky has a laundry list of records to his name, but regarded by many as the most remarkable is his feat of 50 goals in 39 games. Before Gretzky, Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy were the only players to score 50 goals in 50 games.

40 — A 40-win season is one of the marks of goaltending greatness, and no netminder was better at piling up wins than Martin Brodeur. The winningest goaltender in league history, Brodeur put up eight 40-win seasons.

41 — Roberto Luongo was a mainstay of the Vancouver Canucks for nearly a decade, and he became an especially familiar face during the 2006-07 season. He started all 41 home games for the Canucks that season.

42 — Alec Connell is a lesser-known Hall of Fame goaltender who suited up for the original Ottawa Senators back in the 1920s. Connell’s career highlight? A miraculous season in which he allowed a mere 42 goals against in 36 games. 

43 — Flyers GM Ron Hextall was best known during his playing days for his, shall we say, fiery style of play. There’s no better example than the 1987 post-season, in which Hextall racked up an astounding 43 penalty minutes.

44 — In the inaugural 1917-18 NHL season, Joe Malone took the league by storm, scoring 44 goals in 22 games to capture the league’s first goal-scoring title.

45 — There have been many great scorers in NHL history, but only 45 players can lay claim to 500 goals during their career. Patrick Marleau is the most recent entrant into the 500-goal club.

46 — Andrei Kostitsyn wore No. 46 for 245 games, more than any other NHL player. (Hey, it's a record. Kind of.)

47 — Wayne Gretzky carried his mantle of the NHL’s greatest scorer over to the post-season in 1985 when he scored 47 points in 18 games en route to his first of two Conn Smythe Trophies. It’s yet another of Gretzky’s records which is unlikely to be broken.

48 — Paul Coffey’s unstoppable offensive season was highlight by 48 goals, giving him the best goal-scoring season by a defenseman in NHL history. Coffey cracked 40 goals twice and had eight seasons with 20-plus goals.

49 — There have been 49 winners of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the player who best displays qualities of perseverance and sportsmanship.

50 — Given Wayne Gretzky’s personal record book, it’s hard to believe he shares any marks for goal-scoring prowess, but when it comes to 50-goal seasons, only one player has matched ‘The Great One’: Mike Bossy. He and Gretzky both notched 50 goals nine times in their careers.

51 — Over the course of the league’s 100 years, there are 51 coaches who have guided their teams to Stanley Cup victories. Scotty Bowman’s nine are the most, but only one better than Toe Blake’s eight titles.

52 — Gordie Howe’s dedication to the game is legendary. He started his career with the Detroit Red Wings in 1946-47 and finished his playing days more than three decades later, playing his final NHL game in 1979-80 at 52 years and 11 days old.

53 — Talk about efficient penalty killing. The Washington Capitals didn’t allow a single power play goal against in 53 attempts at one point in the 1999-2000 season.

54 — The longest Stanley Cup drought in NHL history spanned 54 years, as the New York Rangers didn’t follow up their 1940 championship with another title until 1994. The Rangers lost three Stanley Cup finals during the drought.

55 — The inclusion of the shootout has lent itself to some new records, one of which is held by Roberto Luongo. No goaltender has lost more games in the shootout than Luongo, who has done so 55 times.

56 — One of the league’s oldest pieces of hardware, the Lady Byng, has been handed out to 56 different players.

57 — Coincidentally, another former Canucks goalie happens to hold the record for most shootout wins. There’s still time for it to change, but as the NHL turns 100, no goaltender has won more shootout games than Ryan Miller’s 57.

58 — Tim Kerr had four straight 50-goal seasons for the Flyers in the 1980s, topping out with back-to-back 58-goal campaigns in '85-86 and '86-87.

59 — Ben Scrivens wouldn’t be beat on Jan. 29, 2014, and put himself into the NHL’s record books with a brilliant 59-save shutout performance. It’s the most saves ever made in a regular season shutout.

60 — Martin Brodeur is lauded for his puckhandling ability for a goaltender, but he doesn’t hold the mark for most points by a netminder. Instead, that belongs to Grant Fuhr, who registered 60 points, all assists, during his Hall of Fame career.

61 — Wayne Gretzyk’s 50-goals-in-39-games record is one thing, but his record for goals at the 50-game mark is another. Twice, Gretzky had scored 61 goals by the time his 50th game of the season rolled around.

62 — Arguably the most dominant regular season of all-time belongs to the Detroit Red Wings, who won 62 of their 82 games in 1995-96. Detroit came up short in the playoffs, though, losing in the Western Conference final to the Colorado Avalanche.

63 — The All-Star Game in Tampa Bay, set to take place on Jan. 28, 2018, will be the 63rd time the midseason classic has been played. What started as a matchup pitting the defending Stanley Cup champions against a team of all-stars has turned into a showcase of the game’s top talents.

64 — Nintendo 64. Video game on.

65 — Alex Ovechkin is the greatest goal-scorer of his generation, but he’s also the greatest goal-scorer to play his position. No left winger has ever been able to score as much as Ovechkin did during the 2007-08 season when he fired home 65 goals.

66 — Mario Lemieux doesn’t have the scoring records of Wayne Gretzky, nor does he possess the gaudy point totals, but ‘Super Mario’ was every bit the point-producer. His 1.88 points per game are .04 less than Gretzky scored.

67 — Randy Holt found his name on the scoresheet repeatedly on March 11, 1979, but for all the wrong reasons. Holt accumulated 67 penalty minutes, all of which came in the same period. It should come as no surprise that Holt finished his career with more than 1,400 penalty minutes.

68 — Fourth all-time in games played, third all-time in goals, fifth all-time in assists and second all-time in points. Jaromir Jagr is an active legend, one who is playing in what will likely be his final NHL season.

69 — It’s not exactly a record the Chicago Blackhawks will be proud to own a piece of, but their series against the Edmonton Oilers in 1985 saw the two teams score 69 combined goals. The Oilers had 44 to the Blackhawks’ 25.

70 — Dominik Hasek wasn’t nicknamed ‘The Dominator’ for nothing. On April 27, 1994, the Czech netminder stopped literally everything that came his way in a post-season contest against the New Jersey Devils, racking up a record 70-save playoff shutout.

71 — The San Jose Sharks’ sophomore season was as forgettable as any in league history. In an 84-game campaign, the Sharks lost 71 times. No team has dropped more games in a season.

72 — Including the post-season, the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens won 72 games. After going 60-8-12 in the regular season, Montreal won all but two of their 12 playoff outings.

73 — Wayne Gretzky wasn’t known for his defensive prowess, but he was a great penalty-killer because he could counter-attack with the best of them. Case in point? He had 73 career shorthanded goals, the most in league history.

74 — Ken Dryden was remarkable during his career with the Montreal Canadiens, and there’s no better indication of that than his career winning percentage. He won 74 percent of his regular season NHL games.

75 — Only 10 goaltenders in NHL history have been able to surpass 75 shutouts over the course of their career. Of those, only Martin Brodeur and Terry Sawchuk were able to post 100-plus clean sheets.

76 — As part of his high-flying, glove-shooting rookie season in 1992-93, Teemu Selanne scored 76 goals, an NHL rookie scoring record that has stood the test of time.

77 — ‘The Great One’ didn’t simply set records in the regular season. He holds many of the post-season marks, too. For instance, no player has more even-strength playoff goals than Gretzky, who has 77.

78 — For the first time since the early days, the NHL contracts, as the Cleveland Barons and Minnesota North Stars merge ahead of the 1978-79 season.

79 — Grant Fuhr has had some brilliant years, but none were busier than the 1995-96 season when he saw action in 79 of the St. Louis Blues’ 82 games. Fuhr finished sixth in Hart and Vezina voting.

80 — One of the NHL’s great goal-scoring rarities is the 80-goal plateau. Wayne Gretzky hit it twice. The other two are Brett Hull and Mario Lemieux.

81 — It's a shooter's number, with the likes of Miroslav Satan, Marian Hossa and Phil Kessel all wearing No. 81.

82 — In a 147-game NHL career, Bill Mikkelson averaged a minus-one rating per game. That’s thanks in large part to the 1974-75 season, when Mikkelson went minus-82. Oof.

83 — Since the first NHL campaign, the Montreal Canadiens have made the post-season 83 times, more than any other franchise in NHL history.

84 — Goal-scorers get the glory, but the game has had its fair share of brilliant set-up men. In 100 years, 84 players have been able to register 600-plus assists.

85 — The Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators engaged in the biggest brawl in NHL history back in March 2004, but the record for most penalties handed out belongs to the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers. The two teams combined for 85 penalties.

86 — A mid-season trade has twice allowed a player to skate in more games than any other in the league. In 1992-93, Jimmy Carson skated in 86 contests, a then-NHL record which was then matched by Bob Kudelski the following season.

87 — There are a few players who are beginning to approach the 1,000-point plateau, but with Henrik Sedin joining the club earlier this season, there are officially 87 players in NHL history who are part of the Millennium Club.

88 — In August '88, the hockey world was shocked to learn Wayne Gretzky had been traded to the Los Angeles Kings.

89 — Alexander Mogilny became the first Soviet player to defect to the NHL, wearing No. 89 to salute the year he came over to North America.

90 — The Oilers' dynasty comes to an end, as Edmonton captures their last in a run of five Stanley Cups in seven seasons just as the 1990s begin.

91 — The NHL’s new era of expansion begins, beginning with the San Jose Sharks in 1991-92. It’s the first foray into the Bay Area since the California Golden Seals left town.

92 — The greatest goal-scoring season in NHL history was Wayne Gretzky’s 1981-82 campaign. Gretzky fired home 92 goals en route to winning the league scoring crown for the third straight season. Legend has it Gretzky’s absurd numbers resulted in fantasy hockey leagues either removing No. 99 from the fold or forcing his goals and assists totals to be split.

93 — The Florida Panthers and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim join the NHL ahead of the 1993-94 season as part of the NHL’s continued expansion into the Sunbelt.

94 — He may be one of the most clutch post-season netminder of all-time, but Patrick Roy has also lost more playoff games than any other goaltender. He has 94 playoff losses to his name.

95 — The Winnipeg Jets get set to enter their final season in 1995, just as the Colorado Avalanche, formerly the Quebec Nordiques, get set to being their inaugural campaign.

96 — The Boston Bruins have the unfortunate distinction of being the best team to miss the post-season. They accumulated 96 points in 2014-15, but that wasn’t enough to punch their ticket to the dance.

97 — Full seasons. Lockouts shortened the campaigns in 1994-95, 2012-13 and saw the NHL shut its doors for all of 2004-05. 

98 — The NHL’s next wave of expansion begins in 1998, starting with the Nashville Predators. Shortly thereafter, the Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets join to bring the league to 30 teams.

99 — Synonymous with Wayne Gretzky, the league’s all-time leading scorer and arguably the greatest player of all-time. Gretzky finished his career with 894 goals, 2,857 points, nine Hart Trophies, 10 Art Ross Trophies, four Stanley Cups and two Conn Smythe Trophies. Fittingly, he retired in 1999.

00 — Worn twice in NHL history. John Davidson dons the double zero in 1977-78 for the New York Rangers, and nearly two decades later, Martin Biron wears No. 00 as a rookie goaltender with the Buffalo Sabres. 



Where the Edmonton Oilers Stand Halfway Through the Preseason

Just after the halfway point of the preseason, the Edmonton Oilers have a solid idea as to who will be playing on October 12th, but there are still a few elements on this team to talk about.


NHL Burning Questions: Vegas Golden Knights

Adam Proteau takes a look at the burning questions surrounding the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of the 2022-23 NHL season.


Screenshots: KHL Uncertainty, Sami Jo Small, and the Kraken Mascot

Adam Proteau looks at the uncertainty surrounding North American players in the KHL, the PHF's Toronto Six hiring Sami Jo Small, and the unveiling of the Seattle Kraken's new mascot.