Oldest Franchises- Survivors Of Time
The NHL turns 100 this year but as we are often reminded, tradition doesn’t come easy in a world driven by dollars and cents.
Of the 122 teams comprising the four majors- NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB- only 12 original franchises have survived the headwinds of time to stay rooted in their cities and preserve their original names. The rest were born and shaped out of decades-long mergers, expansions and relocations.
Hockey's Montreal Canadiens (photo above) are the only continuously puck-shooting members of the NHL since it was formed in 1917; Toronto Maple Leafs are not included since they started off as the Toronto Arenas.
A decade later, the fledgling league crossed the U.S. border to incorporate the Rangers, Black Hawks, Redwings and Bruins, forming the "Original Six" along with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Football is equally thin of original old timers. The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears are the NFL’s only signature teams going back to its inception in 1922. The Giants arrived in 1925 and the Eagles eight years after that.
The NBA has only the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks who stayed true to their cores since the league's genesis in 1949.
Modern baseball, founded in 1903, is luckier with 7 original clubs that managed to fight off the onslaught of time- White Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cubs, Reds, Cardinals, Pirates. Not counted are the Red Sox who got branded later in 1908, the Yankees in 1913, the Indians in 1915.
America's favorite pastime also had its shakeups in the 19th century and didn’t suffer from the challenge of upstart leagues that plagued other professional sports.
The NHL was forced to merge with the WHA in 1979, the NBA with the ABA in 1976, and the NFL with the AFL by 1970.
A number of existing teams also predate their leagues, though most were reinvented times over in the constant search for a profitable home.
Football’s Arizona Cardinals journeyed from the original Chicago Cardinals in 1920, to the St Louis Cardinals in 1960, to the Phoenix Cardinals in 1988, and lastly to the Arizona Cardinals in 1994.
Basketball’s Atlanta Hawks saw their own time machine: Buffalo Bisons in 1946, Tri-Cities Blackhawks in the same year, Milwaukee Hawks in 1951, St Louis Hawks in 1955, and finally the Atlanta Hawks in 1968.
Baseball’s Atlanta Braves went through 9 iterations since their early days as the Boston Red Stockings. They even won three World Series in three different cities- 1914 as the Boston Braves, 1957 as the Milwaukee Braves, 1995 as the Atlanta Braves.
No doubt the march of time can't hold back economic, demographic and political forces, but hopefully the "surviving dozen" will continue to prevail.
FOOTBALL March 17, 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney is nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. The son of Steelers’ founder Art Rooney, the younger executive enjoyed a successful tenure at the helm of his football franchise, winning 6 Super Bowl championships between 1974 and 2008. He was ambassador from 2009 to 2012.
BOXING March 13, 1999 Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis draw a controversial tie for the WBA, WBC, IBF, and lineal Heavyweight Championships. Though Lewis dominated Holyfield with a higher percent of punches connected, the 3 judges were split: a win, loss and tie. In a rematch 8 months later, Lewis prevailed in a unanimous vote.
BASKETBALL March 12, 1989 Georgetown beats Syracuse 88-79 at the 10th Big East men’s basketball tournament. It was the Hoyas’ 6th win at the famed college competition, which has been held at New York City’s Madison Square Garden since 1983. Georgetown is currently tied with UCONN for the greatest number of championships at 7 each.
HOCKEY March 13, 1979 Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders posts his 5th career hat trick. Drafted in 1977, Bossy spent his entire career with the Islanders and was an integral member of the team’s 4-year reign in the Stanley Cup from 1980-1983. The Montreal native is the NHL’s all-time leader in average goals scored per regular season game.