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Monday, December 2, 2019

The Original Six and The Next Six

The Original Six and The Next Six

A reader was great and mentioned via Facebook the other day that he quite liked "The Next Six" poster that we created some years ago (I'm fairly certain we first published The Next Six in 1999) and it occurred to me that I don't have The Next Six poster properly displayed anywhere.

So without further ado, here are the companion posters we created called "The Original Six" and "The Next Six". They were created to be displayed together.

The Original Six jerseys NHL poster

The Next Six jerseys NHL poster

Allow me to share a little bit of hockey history...

As many people know, the NHL began play in 1917, but in that first 1917-18 season, the NHL was made up of only four teams: Toronto Arenas (aka Torontos, later known as the St. Patricks and then the Maple Leafs), Ottawa Senators (disbanded in the 1930's), Montreal Canadiens and Montreal Wanderers. The Wanderers rink burned down just six games into the season, so the NHL finished its first season with just three teams.

What isn't so well known is that the NHL's "Original Six" teams  - Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers - didn't actually play together as a six team league until the 1942-43 season, a full 26 seasons after the NHL's first season.  So in a sense, the name "The Original Six" is actually a bit misleading since these were neither the NHL's original six teams nor the first time that the NHL had six teams.

From 1917-18 to 1923-24, the NHL had either 3 or 4 teams, and it wasn't until the 1924-25 season that the NHL had six teams, yet they weren't "The Original Six" teams. For the record, the first time the NHL had six teams (1924-25), the teams were (in order of how they finished that season):
Hamilton Tigers
Toronto St. Patricks (St. Pats)
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Montreal Maroons
Boston Bruins

It might be a bit of a stretch, but if you were asked to name the NHL's "Original Six" teams, the most accurate answer would be: Hamilton Tigers, Toronto St. Patricks (St. Pats), Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Maroons, Boston Bruins.

As for "The Next Six", I'm not trying to blow my own horn, but I think I was the one who first used that name/expression/tagline, but if I'm wrong, forgive me for taking credit (and let me know who you believe first coined that phrase with respect to the NHL's 1967-68 expansion teams) and I could at least qualify my statement by saying that I am fairly certain I was the first person to commercialize "The Next Six" expression.

And who were the NHL's Next Six teams/franchises? They were - in order of how they finished that first 1967-68 season:
Philadelphia Flyers
Los Angeles Kings
St. Louis Blues
Minnesota North Stars (now known as the Dallas Stars)
Pittsburgh Penguins
Oakland Seals (the franchise lasted until 1977-78 when they were known as the Cleveland Barons, at which point they merged with the Minnesota North Stars, effectively marking the end of the franchise)

The "Original Six" and the "Next Six" played for three full seasons (1967-68 to 1969-70) as two six team divisions - the Original Six teams played in the East Division, and the Next Six teams played in the West Division. In 1970-71, the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres joined the NHL, making it a 14 teams league, and it's been growing ever since - the NHL will have 32 teams in 2021-22.

Thanks for allowing me this quick stroll down memory lane! As always, feedback welcome!

Thanks -

PS from Fall 2022: To purchase a reasonably priced 8" x 24" plaqued mounted version of the Original Six Jerseys poster that's ready to hang on your wall, please visit Heritage Sports Stuff.