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 seven are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States. Headquartered in New York City, the NHL is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in 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 26, 1917, in Montreal, Quebec, 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. The nation to which the name of the league originally referred was Canada, although the league has now been binational since 1924 when it expanded into the United States. After a labour dispute 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, attendance, and television audiences.
Wayne Douglas Gretzky, CC (//; born January 26, 1961) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. He played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for four teams from 1979 to 1999. Nicknamed "The Great One", he has been called "the greatest hockey player ever" by many sportswriters, players, and the NHL itself. He is the leading point-scorer in NHL history, with more assists than any other player has points, and is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season – a feat he accomplished four times. In addition, he tallied over 100 points in 16 professional seasons, 14 of them consecutive. At the time of his retirement in 1999, he held 40 regular-season records, 15 playoff records, and six All-Star records. He won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and performance five times, and he often spoke out against fighting in hockey.