Whether you’re a longtime fan of the NHL or a newcomer, you may feel a bit surprised to know that the National Hockey League also includes a few teams from Canada.
Since the league is primarily focused on teams based in the United States, you may wonder why it also includes teams from Canada.
Here’s what you need to know about how many Canadian NHL teams there are and whether there will ever be more.
How Many Canadian Teams Are In The NHL?
There are seven Canadian teams in the NHL.
Those teams include:
- Montreal Canadiens
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Vancouver Canucks
- Edmonton Oilers
- Calgary Flames
- Ottawa Senators
- Winnipeg Jets
Originally, the NHL had four teams.
All those teams were in Canada.
It took the place of the previous hockey league called the National Hockey Association.
Although the NHL was formed in 1917, it wouldn’t be until 1924 that it finally expanded into the United States.
The Boston Bruins joined the NHL as America’s first official hockey team.
Throughout the NHL’s history, more teams would join the league until it reached its current total of 32 teams.
25 of those teams are in the United States while seven of those teams are in Canada.
Why Doesn’t The NHL Have More Teams In Canada?
Considering that there are 25 American teams and seven Canadian teams in the NHL, you may wonder why there aren’t more Canadian teams.
After all, the NHL was started in Canada.
Here are a few reasons why there aren’t as many teams in Canada.
1. Currency Conversions
One of the biggest reasons that there aren’t more Canadian teams is because of currency conversions.
The Canadian dollar is weaker than the American dollar.
This isn’t always the case, however.
The two sometimes alternate.
However, in most cases, the American dollar tends to be stronger than the Canadian dollar.
This becomes a problem because it means the Canadian teams end up spending more than American teams.
Because it costs them more to buy certain things in the United States, they have less money overall.
That might mean that they have less money to put toward acquiring great players for their teams.
It might mean that they don’t have the funds to build new, bigger arenas.
Starting a brand-new Canadian team is thus more expensive than it is to start a new American team.
Since not every city can afford the high costs, Canada is stuck with the seven teams that they have.
There aren’t more Canadian teams because starting Canadian teams is more expensive due to the disparity between the Canadian dollar and the American dollar.
2. NHL Is American-Focused
Although the NHL may have started in Canada, it has since become an American organization.
Much of its efforts are focused on making the game more popular in the United States.
Hockey is already quite popular in Canada.
Logically, it’d make more sense to expand in Canada where there’s demand for it.
They’d make more money that way.
However, because of the number of American teams the NHL has, the organization wants the game to be a success in the United States.
If the teams are successful, then it means the teams and their owners can earn more money.
It all comes down to money.
Sports leagues and teams in the United States are typically lucrative.
Whether it’s through betting or fans purchasing merchandise, people can make a lot of money off of sports.
Ticket sales are another huge way to earn money.
The NHL wants its American teams to succeed because it means the teams will make more money for the league.
If they were to add more Canadian teams, then it would take the focus off the American teams.
Fans might start to root for Canadian teams over American teams.
This means that the American teams would lose fans and thus sources of income.
Canada doesn’t have more teams because the NHL prefers to focus on American teams and making them thrive financially.
3. More American Team Owners
The owners of the NHL are actually the team owners themselves.
Since there are more American teams than Canadian teams, it means that the American team owners have a far stronger majority.
Together, the team owners make decisions about the NHL.
That includes whether or not to make new teams.
If the Canadian team owners want more Canadian teams, then they’re going to have to convince the other American team owners to agree.
If the American team owners don’t want more Canadian teams, then they’re probably not going to get the majority vote that the Canadian team owners need.
There are several reasons why American team owners might not want more Canadian teams.
They might find that having 32 teams is already more than enough.
They might worry that having more Canadian teams will pull business away from American teams.
It’s possible that the new Canadian teams might snatch up talent that they were hoping to get instead.
Whatever the reason, the fact that there are more American team owners than Canadian team owners that make up the NHL board of governors means that the majority of those American team owners will need to agree for more Canadian teams to be started.
4. Small Arenas
One of the reasons that the NHL has given for not adding more Canadian teams is the fact that their arenas are too small.
The NHL wants large arenas that can house tons of fans.
They want to get as many fans into the arena as possible.
This means more ticket sales and more money.
It also means there’s a higher chance of people buying merchandise or food at the arenas.
All these aspects make more money for the league.
Smaller arenas don’t make as much money because they can only hold so many fans.
The problem with building new arenas is that they’re very expensive.
Considering that Canadians love hockey, the desire for bigger arenas is likely there.
However, they may not have the budget to support such a large construction project.
That’s especially true if they’re unsure whether the NHL will even let them have a new team after they make the investment.
If they don’t have a new team to play in the arena, then it’s essentially a waste of money.
The NHL, because of its American majority, might also not want a new Canadian team specifically because they don’t want more arenas in Canada.
If there are more arenas in Canada, then that means their arenas in the United States are going to earn less money.
Instead of fans going to their arenas, there will be times when they head to Canada instead to watch a game.
Team owners do not want to see a decrease in their profits.
As such, they don’t want new arenas built in Canada.
With no new arenas or larger arenas being built, Canada is unable to start new teams.
5. Small Cities
Another reason that the NHL sometimes gives about not having more Canadian teams is the size of the city.
Canada is a huge country.
Despite its size, there are only a few larger cities.
Those cities already have NHL teams.
While Canada could always start more teams to represent those cities, the NHL might not want them to.
For one, it means the new Canadian teams would have to share funds with the existing team.
Not every city can support two NHL teams.
The passion might be there from the fans, but if they don’t have the funds to support two NHL teams, then adding another one could spell ruin for the existing team.
They might not get enough funding and as a result, have a terrible season.
However, because many Canadians love hockey, they’re sure to support their team even in smaller cities.
As such, the fact that the NHL doesn’t have more Canadian teams because of its city size is a little unfair.
A final reason why there aren’t more Canadian teams is because of competition.
The American team owners might be afraid that if there are more Canadian teams, then there’s going to be more competition for fans and players.
Hockey isn’t the most popular sport in the United States.
Because of that, each team has a limited number of devoted fans.
If more teams were to arrive, then there’s a risk that the existing teams might lose fans.
For whatever reason, the fans might enjoy the new team more and instead start rooting for them.
They’ll want to attend their games instead and buy their merchandise.
That means the existing team will receive far less money than it used to.
Another area of concern is the players.
If there are more teams, then that means more people are trying to get the best players on their teams.
NHL teams have a cap on how much they can offer players or spend on player recruitment.
They don’t always follow those rules, of course, which means they might throw a lot of money at a player who shows a great deal of talent.
If the American team was looking at hiring that player, too, then they might find themselves having to offer more to entice the coveted player to join them instead.
The NHL doesn’t want to spend more money.
It wants to make money.
As such, by limiting how much competition there is, the teams can have easier access to the players that they want.
Competition for resources is a big reason why the NHL hasn’t added any more Canadian teams.
Who Were the Original Six In The NHL?
The Original Six were the six first teams to form the NHL between the years 1942 and 1967.
Those teams included:
- Boston Bruins
- Chicago Black Hawks
- Detroit Red Wings
- Montreal Canadiens
- New York Rangers
- Toronto Maple Leafs
Later in 1967, the NHL further expanded and included several more teams in the league.
Canada has seven NHL teams and originally had one in Quebec as well.
Quebec sold the team to Colorado.
There are many factors influencing the decision on whether to allow Canada to have more NHL teams or not.