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Decoding NHL Abbreviations Teams: A Fan’s Guide to the League

Team Abbreviation

The NHL, an abbreviation for National Hockey League, is a fascinating and fast-paced ice hockey league that captures the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. As die-hard fans, we often use them to talk about our favorite teams, but let’s take a moment to dive into their origins and significance.

I’ve got a comprehensive guide just for you, where I’ll share some insights on NHL team abbreviations. Let’s get started!

Understanding NHL Team Abbreviations

Before we delve into the individual team abbreviations, let’s understand their structure and logic.
NHL team abbreviations include three uppercase letters for various purposes, such as team logos, jerseys, and in-game graphics. These codes are not arbitrary but often reflect the team’s city, nickname, or historical context.

1. ANA – Mighty Ducks of Anaheim/Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks are often abbreviated as ANA. The “ANA” comes from the team’s location in Anaheim, California. The Ducks’ name and logo were inspired by Disney’s “Mighty Ducks” franchise, and their team colors, black and orange, evoke the spirit of the movies. So, when you see “ANA” on the ice, you know you’re watching the Anaheim Ducks in action.

2. ARI – Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes, formerly known as the Phoenix Coyotes, carry the abbreviation ARI. This abbreviation reflects the team’s home state, Arizona. The “Coyotes” part of the name refers to the fierce and adaptable animals native to the southwestern United States.

3. AFM – Atlanta Flames

The Atlanta Flames were an NHL franchise based in Atlanta, Georgia, and their abbreviation was AFM. The team played from 1972 to 1980 before relocating to Calgary and becoming the Flames we know today.

4. ATL – Atlanta Thrashers

The Atlanta Thrashers abbreviated as ATL, were an NHL team that played in Atlanta from 1999 to 2011. The team was relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and became the modern-day Winnipeg Jets.

5. BOS – Boston Bruins

When you see “BOS” on the ice or on a jersey, you’re witnessing the Boston Bruins in action. The abbreviation is a straightforward reflection of the team’s city, Boston. The team’s mascot, a bear, adds a fearsome touch to the name, making the Boston Bruins a force to be reckoned with in the league.

6. BUF – Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres hail from Buffalo, New York, which explains the “BUF” abbreviation. The word “Sabres” is a nod to the city’s history. Buffalo was a significant American military outpost during the War of 1812, and the saber was a prominent weapon of that era.

7. BRK – Brooklyn Americans

The Brooklyn Americans, known as BRK, were one of the NHL’s original teams, playing from 1925 to 1942. They represented Brooklyn, New York, and were known for their distinctive red, white, and blue uniforms.

8. CGY – Calgary Flames

Calgary Flames use the abbreviation CGY. The “CGY” mirrors the team’s location in Calgary, Alberta. The name “Flames” pays tribute to a particularly devastating event in Calgary’s history—the 1980s saw a series of significant fires in the city, including one that damaged their previous arena.

9. CAR – Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes, abbreviated as CAR, represent the states of North and South Carolina. The “Hurricanes” name refers to the frequent hurricanes that strike the region, making it an apt choice.

10. CHI – Chicago Blackhawks

When you think of the Chicago Blackhawks, think “CHI.” The abbreviation represents the team’s hometown, Chicago, Illinois. The team’s logo prominently features a Native American head, paying homage to the Native American heritage of the region.

11. COL – Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche’s abbreviation, COL, reflects the team’s home state, Colorado. The breathtaking natural phenomena of avalanches in the Rocky Mountains inspire the “Avalanche” name.

12. CBJ – Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets are often shortened to CBJ. The “CBJ” represents the team’s home city, Columbus, Ohio. The name “Blue Jackets” has historical significance, as it refers to the blue uniforms worn by Union soldiers during the American Civil War, many of whom hailed from Ohio.

13. CGS – Bay Area Seals/California Golden Seals

The Bay Area Seals and the California Golden Seals used the CGS abbreviation. The franchise played in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1967 to 1976 before relocating to Cleveland and merging with the Minnesota North Stars.

14. CLE – Cleveland Barons

The Cleveland Barons, abbreviated as CLE, were this successful minor league professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League. They played in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Cleveland Arena. You know, the original Barons, they were the most successful team in AHL history. They played in the AHL from 1937 to 1973.

15. CLR – Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies, represented by CLR, were an NHL team that played in Denver, Colorado, from 1976 to 1982 before relocating to New Jersey and becoming the New Jersey Devils.

16. DAL – Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars, known as DAL, signify their home city, Dallas, Texas. The “Stars” name is a nod to the state’s iconic lone star emblem and the team’s aspirations to shine as brightly as a star on the ice.

17. DET – Detroit Red Wings

When it comes to the Detroit Red Wings, the abbreviation DET is unmistakable. The “DET” represents the team’s city, Detroit, Michigan. The “Red Wings” name refers to the winged wheel logo, symbolizing the city’s automotive industry.

18. DCG – Detroit Cougars

The Detroit Cougars, with the abbreviation DCG, were one of the NHL’s original teams, playing from 1926 to 1930. The franchise was eventually renamed the Detroit Falcons and later became the Detroit Red Wings.

19. DFL – Detroit Falcons

The Detroit Falcons, abbreviated as DFL, played in the NHL from 1930 to 1932. They were a predecessor to the Detroit Red Wings.

20. EDM – Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers bear the abbreviation EDM, which stands for their city, Edmonton, Alberta. The name “Oilers” reflects the region’s strong ties to the oil and gas industry.

21. FLA – Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Florida, go by the abbreviation FLA. The “Panthers” name is a nod to the endangered Florida panther, a majestic and elusive big cat native to the region.

22. HAM – Hamilton Tigers

The Hamilton Tigers, known as HAM, played in the NHL from 1920 to 1925. They were based in Hamilton, Ontario.

23. HFD – Hartford Whalers

The Hartford Whalers abbreviated as HFD, played in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1979 to 1997 before relocating to North Carolina and becoming the Carolina Hurricanes. The team was known for its iconic whale tail logo.

24. KCS – Kansas City Scouts

The Kansas City Scouts, represented by KCS, were an NHL team in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1974 to 1976 before relocating to Colorado and becoming the Colorado Rockies.

25. LAK – Los Angeles Kings

You know you’re watching the Los Angeles Kings when you see “LAK” on the ice. The abbreviation represents the team’s location, Los Angeles, California. The “Kings” name reflects the city’s regal connotations and aspirations for greatness.

26. MIN – Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild’s abbreviation, MIN, reflects the team’s home state, Minnesota. The name “Wild” celebrates the state’s rich wilderness and natural beauty.

27. MTL – Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens, often referred to as the Habs, use the abbreviation MTL. The “MTL” mirrors the team’s home city, Montreal, Quebec. The team is one of the oldest and most storied franchises in the NHL, with a rich history dating back to 1909.

28. MMR – Montreal Maroons

The Montreal Maroons, with the abbreviation MMR, were one of the NHL’s original teams, playing from 1924 to 1938. They were known for their distinctive maroon and white uniforms.

29. MNS – Minnesota North Stars

The Minnesota North Stars, abbreviated as MNS, played in the NHL from 1967 to 1993 before relocating to Dallas and becoming the Dallas Stars. The team was originally part of the merger with the California Golden Seals.

30. MWN – Montreal Wanderers

The Montreal Wanderers, or MWN, were one of the NHL’s original teams, playing in the league’s inaugural season in 1917. Unfortunately, they played only a few games before their arena burned down, leading to the team’s dissolution.

31. NSH – Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators bear the abbreviation NSH, signifying their home city, Nashville, Tennessee. The “Predators” name is a nod to the saber-toothed tiger fossils discovered in the region.

32. NJD – New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils go by the abbreviation NJD. The “NJD” represents the team’s home state, New Jersey, and their ominous and distinctive devilish logo.

33. NYI – New York Islanders

When you see “NYI” on the ice, you’re witnessing the New York Islanders in action. The abbreviation represents the team’s home state, New York, with the “Islanders” name reflecting their roots on Long Island.

34. NYR – New York Rangers

The New York Rangers use the abbreviation NYR, signifying their home city, New York. The team is one of the Original Six franchises, dating back to the league’s early years.

35. NYA – New York Americans

The New York Americans, represented by NYA, were one of the NHL’s original teams, playing from 1925 to 1942. They were based in New York City and were known for their patriotic red, white, and blue jerseys.

36. OTT – Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators, based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, are often shortened to OTT. The “Senators” name has historical significance, as it pays tribute to the rich political history of Ottawa, the capital of Canada.

37. OAK – California/Oakland Seals

The California Golden Seals, initially known as the Oakland Seals and abbreviated as OAK, played in the NHL from 1967 to 1976 before merging with the Minnesota North Stars.

38. PHI – Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers are known by the abbreviation PHI, representing their home city, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The team’s logo features a winged “P,” symbolizing the city’s history as the birthplace of American independence.

39. PIT – Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins carry the abbreviation PIT. The “Penguins” name reflects the team’s mascot, paying homage to the flightless birds known for their resilience.

40. PIR – Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates, abbreviated as PIR, were one of the NHL’s early franchises, playing from 1925 to 1930. The team represented Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and their name paid homage to the city’s historical ties to pirates, as Pittsburgh is located near the confluence of three rivers.

41. QBD – Quebec Bulldogs

The Quebec Bulldogs, known as QBD, were a founding member of the NHL, playing from 1919 to 1920. They hailed from Quebec City, Quebec, and their legacy is a testament to the league’s roots in Canada.

42. QUA – Philadelphia Quakers

The Philadelphia Quakers, abbreviated as QUA, had a brief stint in the NHL during the 1930-31 season. Despite their short-lived existence, they were part of Philadelphia’s early hockey history.

43. QUE – Quebec Nordiques

The Quebec Nordiques, represented by QUE, were a beloved NHL team based in Quebec City, Quebec, from 1979 to 1995. The team’s departure for Colorado left a void in the hearts of Quebecois hockey fans.

44. SJS – San Jose Sharks

Regarding the San Jose Sharks, the abbreviation SJS is what you’ll see. The “SJS” represents the team’s city, San Jose, California. The “Sharks” name captures the predatory spirit of the ocean’s most feared creatures.

45. SEA – Seattle Kraken

The newest addition to the NHL, the Seattle Kraken, uses the abbreviation SEA. The team’s name, “Kraken,” refers to the legendary sea monster, reflecting the maritime history and culture of Seattle, Washington.

46. STL – St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues, abbreviated as STL, represent the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The “Blues” name is a nod to the musical genre deeply rooted in the city’s culture.

47. SEN – Ottawa Senators (original)

The original Ottawa Senators, known as SEN, were one of the NHL’s founding teams, playing from 1917 to 1934. They were a powerhouse in the league’s early days, winning multiple Stanley Cups.

48. SLE – St. Louis Eagles

The St. Louis Eagles, abbreviated as SLE, had a brief presence in the NHL during the 1934-35 season. They were based in St. Louis, Missouri, and their short-lived history is a footnote in the league’s archives.

49. TBL – Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning bears the abbreviation TBL, signifying their home city, Tampa Bay, Florida. The “Lightning” name reflects the frequent lightning storms in the region.

50. TOR – Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs, often shortened to TOR, represent the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The team’s name was originally “Maple Leafs” to honor the symbol on the badge of Canadian soldiers during World War I.

51. TAN – Toronto Hockey Club/Toronto Arenas

The Toronto Hockey Club, also known as the Toronto Arenas and abbreviated as TAN, was one of the NHL’s original teams, playing from 1917 to 1919.

52. TSP – Toronto St. Patricks

The Toronto St. Patricks, represented by TSP, played in the NHL from 1919 to 1927. The team underwent a name change and eventually became the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the league’s most iconic franchises.

53. VAN – Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks are known by the abbreviation VAN, reflecting their home city, Vancouver, British Columbia. The “Canucks” name is derived from a Canadian slang term for a person from the western part of the country.

54. VGK – Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, go by the abbreviation VGK. The team’s name, “Golden Knights,” embodies the city’s connection to entertainment and the iconic Knights of the Round Table.

55. WIN – Winnipeg Jets (original)

The original Winnipeg Jets, with the abbreviation WIN, were part of the NHL from 1972 to 1996. The team was beloved in Winnipeg, Manitoba, before relocating to Arizona and becoming the Phoenix Coyotes (now Arizona Coyotes).

56. WPG – Winnipeg Jets

The current Winnipeg Jets, abbreviated as WPG, returned to the NHL in 2011 as the relocated Atlanta Thrashers. They brought NHL hockey back to the passionate fans in Winnipeg.

57. WSH – Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals, based in Washington, D.C., carry the abbreviation WSH. Established in 1974, they have become a prominent franchise in the NHL and have had a significant impact on the growth of hockey in the U.S. capital.


NHL team abbreviations are more than just three letters; they are symbols of each franchise’s rich histories, cultures, and identities. As fans, understanding the significance of these codes adds depth and meaning to our support for our favorite teams.

So, remember the story behind those three letters the next time you watch an NHL game or don your team’s jersey. It’s a small but significant part of the broader tapestry of hockey history and fandom.

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