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The National Hockey League (NHL)  was established in 1917 and is the professional ice hockey league of North America. It began with only 4 teams, all in Canada, which is how it derived the adjective “National” in its name. The league expanded to the United States in 1924, and now consists of 24 US teams and 7 in Canada. It is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world. Each year, the highest ranking teams compete for the Stanley Cup, which is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America.