The National Hockey League, or as it is popularly called the NHL, is a professional league for hockey. The ice hockey played in this league involves both males and females, although they do not play in the same games. The league started in Canada and, through its popularity, moved across to the United States of America.

Teams and Conference Breakdown

There are currently 31 teams in the league with 24 teams coming from the United States and seven from Canada. There are two major conferences, namely the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Eastern Conference has a total of 16 teams while Western has 15. These two are further subdivided into divisions. Eastern Conference has two divisions, namely the Metropolitan Division, which has eight teams, and the Atlantic Division, which also has eight teams. The Western Conference also has two divisions, namely the Central Division, which has seven teams, and the Pacific Division, which has eight teams.

The Players

Ice hockey has six players on each side, and these consist of 1 goalie or goaltender and five forwards. This puts the number of players on the field to 12 players plus the referee and the two linesmen on either side of the ice rink. The roles of these players and officials will be explained in great detail in the articles to follow.


There is a total of 21 trophies handed out in the NHL.

  • The Vezina Trophy. This trophy is reserved for the best goaltender of the season. This goaltending trophy was named after a famous goaltender.
  • The Stanley Cup. This cup is awarded annually to the NHL team that wins the playoffs.