Ice hockey is a contact team sport which involves players on ice skates using hockey sticks to maneuver a rubber disc, more commonly referred to as a puck, into the opponents’ goal to score points. The first official game of indoor ice hockey in Canada was played in Montreal in 1875. Since then, the sport has developed into one of the most popular national pastimes in the country. A May 2021 study showed that 93 percent of surveyed Canadian adults agreed to some extent that hockey was a part of Canadian identity. Ice hockey was officially recognized as the national winter sport of Canada in 1994.
The National Hockey League (NHL), arguably the most prestigious professional ice hockey league worldwide, was organized in Canada in 1917. The league, which initially began with just four teams from Canada, evolved into a major competition comprising 32 teams from the United States and Canada. Every year, teams in the NHL compete for the Stanley Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the playoff round culminating in the Stanley Cup Finals. In 2021, Stanley Cup viewership in Canada amounted to 15.6 million individuals.
National Hockey League franchises
Every year, 25 teams from the U.S. and seven from Canada compete in the National Hockey League. The most valuable NHL franchise in 2020 was the New York Rangers, valued at 1.65 billion U.S. dollars that year. Despite their high valuation, the New York Rangers have won the Stanley Cup just four times. By contrast, the Montreal Canadiens have emerged as champions of the Stanley Cup Finals 24 times throughout the history of the league, making them the team with the most number of Stanley Cup wins as of 2021. Looking at individual players in the league, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs was the highest paid player in the NHL in the 2020/21 season, earning roughly 16 million U.S. dollars from his salary and endorsements combined.
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