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Division championships

There now follows a ranking of the top division names in the history of the National Hockey League.

  1. Smythe: Formed by the 1974 realignment, and destroyed by the 1993 realignment [predecessor to the Pacific Division]. Named for Maple Leafs cofounder Conn Smythe. Primarily contained western clubs like Los Angeles and Edmonton.
  2. Norris: Formed by the 1974 realignment, and destroyed by the 1993 realignment [predecessor to the Central Division]. Named for longtime Red Wings owner James Norris Sr. Primarily contained Midwestern clubs like Chicago and Detroit. Famously adopted by ESPN’s Chris Berman to describe the NFL’s NFC Central/​North division, as both had Midwestern teams that played in highly physical styles.
  3. Patrick: Formed by the 1974 realignment, and destroyed by the 1993 realignment [predecessor to the Atlantic Division]. Named for longtime player, coach, and innovator Lester Patrick. Primarily contained Eastern Seaboard clubs like Philadelphia and the New York/​New Jersey teams.
  4. Adams: Formed by the 1974 realignment, and destroyed by the 1993 realignment [predecessor to the Northeast Division]. Named for Bruins founder Charles Francis Adams. Primarily contained northeastern clubs like Boston and Toronto.
  5. Central: Formed by the 1993 realignment [successor to the Norris Division]. Appropriately for a division located mainly in the Midwest, this is a workmanlike division name, not flashy like the Metropolitan Division.
  6. Pacific: Formed by the 1993 realignment [successor to the Smythe Division]. Contains all four teams that are on the Pacific, but the other three are in landlocked states or provinces.
  7. Atlantic: Formed by the 1993 realignment [successor to the Patrick Division]. A good name for a division – just not this one. Only two of its eight teams are in cities that are on the Atlantic; three [Buffalo, Detroit, and Toronto] are on a Great Lake, and one [Tampa Bay] is on the Gulf of Mexico. Particularly inexcusable considering that the three New York/​New Jersey teams are not even in this division.
  8. Northeast: Formed by the 1993 realignment [successor to the Adams Division], and destroyed by the 2013 realignment [merged into the Atlantic Division]. Appropriate to its team roster, except when Québec and Hartford moved.
  9. Southeast: Formed by the 1998 realignment, and destroyed by the 2013 realignment. Other than Washington, all division members were created or relocated in the 1990s and 2000s.
  10. Northwest: Formed by the 1998 realignment, and destroyed by the 2013 realignment. Really, this was the only possible name for a division containing Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota, and Colorado.
  11. American: Formed by the 1926 expansion, and destroyed by the 1938 return to a single table. Seven of its twelve champions went on to lift the Stanley Cup.
  12. West: Formed by the 1967 expansion, and destroyed by the 1974 realignment. Contained all six 1967 expansion teams.
  13. East: Formed by the 1967 expansion, and destroyed by the 1974 realignment. Contained the Original Six clubs. Inexplicably, the expansion Vancouver Canucks were placed in this division in 1970.
  14. Canadian: Formed by the 1926 expansion, and destroyed by the 1938 return to a single table. Contained the four Canadian clubs [even after the original Ottawa Senators moved and became the St Louis Eagles]. Also contained the New York Americans, creating the bizarre scenario in which the Americans were not in the American Division.
  15. Metropolitan: Formed by the 2013 realignment. This sounds like a fictional division: “The Gotham Blades can take over sole possession of the Metropolitan Division lead when they visit the Metropolis Mammoths tonight, and you can watch all the action right here on GBC.”

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