It can be said that the success of the NHL owes itself to the “Original Six.“
Without those teams, the sport wouldn’t be what it is today, plain and simple.
These six teams are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
These “Original Six” teams paved the way in 1942 and introduced audiences to greats like Ted Lindsay, Doug Harvey, and Bobby Baun.
Each one of these players attracted audiences from all over the world. And, each fan had to pick a team to root for during the regular season and the playoffs. But, after 20 years, it became hard for fans on the West Coast to root for teams that were all primarily based in the Midwest and on the East Coast.
That all changed in 1967. The “Original Six” era of the NHL officially ended on June 5 of that year. The league officially introduced the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Oakland Seals, and St. Louis Blues would all begin to play in the 1967-70 season.
As Hockey Writers wrote:
“This expansion would also mark the first time that NHL hockey would be featured in the state of California. Since that time, a total of four different teams have seen the sunshine of the “Golden State” – the most successful of which, and the longest-lasting, has been the Los Angeles Kings.”
Since their inception in 1967-68, the Kings have appeared in three Stanley Cup Finals, winning the championship in two of those appearances. It would take 44 seasons for Los Angeles to win their first Cup, and the team has now been in existence for over half a century.”
Along with the championships came the fans. Kings fans are certainly one of the most underrated fan bases in the NHL or even all of sports. The strongest evidence being that the Kings have been in the Los Angeles area for over fifty years. That’s incredibly hard to do in a warm-weather state/region like southern California.
Many of these fans are a direct result of the greatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky played on the Kings from 1988 to 1995.
As all the readers know, Hockey is a great sport, and whether or not it expanded from the “Original Six” or not, it probably still would have been around in some capacity.
But, introducing the NHL to Southern California and Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States, brought the league to a whole new level.