the Original Six

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 10 01:51:41 UTC 2013

Well, in *my* childhood, all we had was the Original Six, then called the NHL.  Not sure how long it took for "the Original Six" to arise after the first expansion in the late 60s, or the later ones.  As far as I know, nobody ever refers to the Original 16 for MLB or similar terms, mutatis mutandis, for the NBA or NFL.  Wonder if future college football aficionados will ever hark back to the good old days of the Original Big 10 (before it went to 14 teams) or Pac 8 (before it went to 10 and now 12, although in their case changing their name accordingly).  How many teams are in the Big 12 (formerly Big 8) now?  No wonder it's so hard to be a student-athlete.


On Jun 9, 2013, at 9:10 PM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:

> I wonder how old/common the term really is. I have no memory of the phrase
> from my childhood, but hockey is one of my least favorite sports.
> There are few ghits before 2000.
> DanG
> On Sun, Jun 9, 2013 at 3:13 AM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      the Original Six
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 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.
>> VS-)
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