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This Date in NHL History

June 25: NHL approves addition of four teams

Plus: Kings hire Melrose as coach; goaltender Smith named to Hockey Hall of Fame

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor


1997: The NHL continues its expansion from a 21-team league in 1991 to 30 teams by the start of the 21st century when it officially approves the addition of four teams during the next three years.

The Nashville Predators are to begin play in the 1998-99 season as the League's 27th team, followed one year later by the Atlanta Thrashers. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild take the ice in the 2000-01 season. The NHL remains a 30-team league until the Vegas Golden Knights arrive in 2017.

The announcement comes exactly 32 years after the NHL reveals its intention to expand from six teams to 12. Two years later, the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, California Seals and Minnesota North Stars enter the League.



1992: The Kings hire Nick Beverley as their new general manager and Barry Melrose as coach. Los Angeles reaches the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in its history in 1993. But Beverley leaves the Kings in May 1994, and Melrose is fired on April 19, 1995.


1993: The Hockey Hall of Fame announces its newest members. They include goaltender Billy Smith, a cornerstone of the New York Islanders' four straight Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83, as well as two members of the Montreal Canadiens' dynasty of the late 1970s, forward Steve Shutt and defenseman Guy Lapointe. The other newcomer is center Edgar Laprade, a member of the New York Rangers for 10 seasons in the 1940s and '50s. Two owners, Seymour Knox III (Buffalo Sabres) and Frank Griffiths (Vancouver Canucks), are named to the Hall in the Builders section.


1998: The NHL Board of Governors announces the establishment of the Maurice Richard Trophy, an annual award to be given to the player who scores the most goals during the regular season. The League also institutes a two-referee system that will be used in 20 games per team in 1998-99, 25 games per team in 1999-2000 and in all games beginning with the 2000-01 season.

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