The National Hockey League (NHL) is a North American professional sports league governing the organization and competition of professional hockey among 30 teams. It is one of the North American major professional sports leagues and is the premier professional hockey league in the world. Two conferences of 15 teams each divide the league. Each conference is divided into three five-team divisions.
The league was founded in 1917 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with four teams. Through a series of expansions contractions and relocations, the league grew to its current 30 teams. At present 24 teams are based in the United States and six in Canada. Following a labour dispute that ultimately cancelled the complete 2004–05 season, the league has managed a successful comeback, including growth in profit and revenue. Teams play 82 games, 41 at home and 41 away. Points are given for each game, two points for a win and one point for losing in overtime or shootout. The NHL is the only professional league to award points for losing in overtime.
The season begins in October and ends in April when playoffs begin. Playoffs conclude in June where the top two teams play in a best-of-seven series to determine the champion. The champion wins the Stanley Cup .