The National Hockey League (NHL; French: Ligue nationale de hockey—LNH) is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 6 are located in Canada and 24 in the United States. Headquartered in New York City, the NHL is widely considered to be the premiere professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues of the United States and 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 league was organized on November 22, 1917 in Montreal during World War I, Canada after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909. It started with four teams and, through a series of expansions, contractions, and relocations, the league is now composed of 30 active franchises. After a "lockout" that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004–05 season, the league resumed play under a new collective bargaining agreement that included a salary cap. In 2009, the NHL enjoyed record highs in terms of sponsorships, crowds and television audiences.
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