the Original Six

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jun 9 07:13:18 UTC 2013

With the Blackhawks and the Bruins making up the first Original Six pair
in the Stanley Cup finals since 1979 (and only the third time such a
matchup did not involve a Montreal, Toronto or Detroit team), it seems
appropriate to point out that "the Original Six" does not appear to be
in the OED. I am not sure if the omission is deliberate or an oversight.
OneLook also finds the expression only in Wikipedia, which is not
particularly surprising.

However, the expression is in common use in texts relating to hockey.
Compare this to two versions of "the Six" that do appear in the OED
(six, 2.i. and 2.j.).

> 2.i. Chiefly as French phr. Les Six (le sis) a Parisian group of six
> composers, Louis Durey (1888–1979), Arthur Honegger (1892–1955),
> Darius Milhaud (1892–1974), Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983), Georges
> Auric (1899–1983), and Francis Poulenc (1899–1963), formed after the
> war of 1914–18, whose music represents a reaction against romanticism
> and impressionism.

> j. the Six, the group of countries (Belgium, France, the German
> Federal Republic, Holland, Italy, and Luxembourg) which were the
> original members of the European Economic Community from 1958 until
> the admission of others in 1973.

The Original Six are the six hockey teams that were the only NHL teams
to survive past the Great Depression and WWII. Of the ten teams that
formed the NHL and its 1924 and 1926 expansions, only the Montreal
Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs (originally the Toronto Arenas and
Toronto St. Pats), Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers
and Chicago Black Hawks were still playing by the end of WWII (the last
other team, the New York Americans, suspended operations in 1942). The
league has recently resurrected one of the other early names (Ottawa
Senators), but it was an entirely new franchise.

Hockey writers often refer to "the Original Six matchup" in reference to
games between any of the six teams, particularly the Canadiens, Bruins
and Rangers. The term also shows up in promotional literature for the games.


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