The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams—25 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season. The NHL is one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada and is considered to be the top-ranked professional ice hockey league in the world, with players from 17 countries as of the 2024/2025 season. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) also views the Stanley Cup as one of the "most important championships available to the sport".
The National Hockey League was organized at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal on November 26, 1917, after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909 in Renfrew, Ontario. The NHL immediately took the NHA's place as one of the leagues that contested for the Stanley Cup in an annual interleague competition before a series of league mergers and foldings left the NHL as the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup in 1926. Wikipedia