The Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final four games to two to win the team's first Stanley Cup in their second Stanley Cup final appearance; they had lost to Montreal Canadiens in the 1993 Finals.
During the off-season, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to become the "new" Winnipeg Jets. It was the first NHL team relocation since the 1997–98 season, when the Hartford Whalers relocated to become the Carolina Hurricanes. The league did not change its divisional structure to accommodate the move, and the Jets took the place of the Thrashers in the Southeast Division. In December 2011, the board of governors eventually approved a proposed realignment for the following season, which would result in four conferences with the first two rounds of the playoffs being divisional, but this was rejected by the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA).
It was the fifth consecutive season with games in Europe at the start of the season. The Winter Classic was held on January 2, 2012, in Philadelphia between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers. The 59th All-Star Game was held at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario, the home arena of the Ottawa Senators, on January 29, 2012.
Atlanta Spirit, LLC, which previously owned the Atlanta Thrashers, sold the team to True North Sports and Entertainment, who relocated them to the True North-owned MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba and renamed the Winnipeg Jets, after a previous NHL team in the market. Winnipeg took Atlanta's place in the Southeast Division for 2011–12.
On June 23, 2011, the NHL announced that the salary cap would be increased by $4.9 million. As a result, the new salary cap ceiling was set at $64.3 million while the salary cap floor was $48.3 million.