The Stanley Cup finals are underway, with the Boston Bruins playing the Chicago Blackhawks. Some hockey fans are excited because this is the first Stanley Cup finals since 1979 matching up two teams from the so-called Original Six.

Some KidsPost readers might be asking, “Who are the Original Six?”

To answer that question, we will have to explore one of my favorite subjects: sports history.

The National Hockey League (NHL) began playing games in 1917. At first, there were five teams in the league: the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers (I love that name), Quebec Bulldogs, Ottawa Senators and a team that played in the Toronto Arena that didn’t even have a team name. They were later called the Arenas. (Speaking of changing team names, the Toronto Arenas played as the Toronto St. Patricks from 1919 to 1927. They became the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1927.)

The NHL got off to a rough start. The Quebec Bulldogs never put a team on the ice, and so the league was down to four teams. After six games, Westmount Arena, where the Canadiens and the Wanderers played, burned down. The Canadiens found a new home, but the Wanderers gave up. So the league was down to three teams.

The league held a two-game championship playoff between the Canadiens and Toronto in 1918 that Toronto won by a combined score of 10-7.

As NHL champ, Toronto challenged the champion of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, a league in the western part of Canada and the United States. Toronto defeated the Vancouver Millionaires (another great team name) in a five-game series to win the first NHL Stanley Cup.

So, you may still be asking who are the Original Six? The NHL added more teams in the 1920s. The Boston Bruins became the first American team in the NHL in 1924. The New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Cougars joined the NHL in 1926. The Cougars later changed their name to the Falcons and finally became the Red Wings in 1932.

Many businesses suffered during the Great Depression of the 1930s because people did not have jobs and money. The NHL suffered, too, losing several teams, including the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Maroons and New York Americans.

By 1942, the NHL was down to six teams and stayed that way for 25 years: the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.

The Original Six.

Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 18 books for kids that combine sports fiction and sports history. His latest book is “Perfect Game.”