Lord Stanley of Preston introduced hockey's Stanley Cup trophy

Early Hockey Leagues History

In 1888, the Governor General of Canada, Lord Stanley of Preston (whose sons and daughter were hockey enthusiasts), first attended the Montreal Winter Carnival tournament and was impressed with the game. In 1892, realizing that there was no recognition for the best team in Canada (although a number of leagues (read more)

The Stanley Cup was first awarded in 1893 to Canada's top-ranking amateur ice hockey club. Professional teams first became eligible to challenge for the Stanley Cup in 1906. The winner is determined by various challenge games and league play. In 1915, the NHA and PCHA reached an agreement in which their respective champions would face each other annually for the Stanley Cup. In 1926, it became the de facto championship trophy of the NHL.
Logo for Western Canada Hockey League
WHL: 1921-1926 (6 seasons)

Centered in smaller cities, WHL teams eventually resorted to selling players to their richer NHL rivals to stay afloat.

Logo for Pacific Coast Hockey Association
PCHA: 1912-1924 (13 seasons)

Oriented in western Canada and the western U.S., eventually merged with the Western Canada Hockey League (WHL)

Logo for National Hockey League
NHL: 1918- (102 seasons)

Founded to replacement to the NHA. Expanded into the U.S. in 1924 to emerge as the sole North American hockey league.

Logo for National Hockey Association
NHA: 1910-1918 (9 seasons)

NHA suspended operations in order to oust unwanted owner . Remaining league owners then started today's NHL.

Emmett Quinn, League secretary of the Canadian Hockey Association (CHA)
CHA: 1910-1910 (1 season)

Three teams from ECHA formed the new CHA, which only lasted a few weeks, as two of the teams quickly moved to NHA.

William Northey, co-founder of the Eastern Canada Hockey Association (ECHA)
ECHA: 1908-1909 (2 seasons)

Shed its amateur status in 1908, leading to amateurs playing for the Allan Cup, and professionals playing for Stanley Cup.

Logo for Ontario Professional Hockey League
OPHL: 1908-1911 (4 seasons)

Sometimes referred to as the Trolley League, rose in popularity followning collapse of the IHL.

Jack Armytage, president of 10-time champ  Winnipeg in the Manitoba Professional Hockey League (MPHL)
MPHL: 1905-1908 (4 seasons)

Started as Mabitoba Hockey Association (MHA), an elite amateur league in 1892, turning professional as the WPHL in 1905.

William Foran, founded the Federal Hockey League
FHL: 1904-1909 (6 seasons)

Formed to provide a league for teams not accepted by the rival CAHL, but dissolved with the formation of the NHA.

Jack 'Doc' Gibson, founded the International Professional Hockey League (IHL)
IHL: 1904-1907 (4 seasons)

The first fully professional league, instrumental in changing the nature of ice hockey from amateur to professional.

Arthur Sixsmith, founded creation of the Western Pennsylvania Hockey League (WPHL)
WPHL: 1896-1910 (15 seasons)

The pre-eminent ice hockey league in the U.S., it was the first organization to openly hire and trade players.

Albert Edward Swift, Vice President of the Canadian Amateur Hockey League (CAHL)
CAHL: 1899-1905 (7 seasons)

Early men's amateur hockey league, with a growing focus on revenues. Replaced the organization that was AHAC.

Mr. Thomas D. Green, President of the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC)
AHAC: 1886-1898 (13 seasons)

Organized to provide a longer season to determine the Canadian champion, the first winner of the newly introduced Stanley Cup.