In 1926, just 9 years after the NHL was officially formed, the state of New York got its first major league hockey team. This New York team joined 5 others to form the “Original Six” era of hockey.
Fast-forward to the early 70s. Hockey just broke out from 6 to 12 teams in 1967. Now, the NHL was looking to make another major expansion in the 70s. So, New York got its second team in 1970. And… Only two years later, the Empire State got its third NHL team.
So, just what are those three teams?
Well, in this article, I’ll show you what NHL teams are in New York State, what other top hockey teams are in the state, and where you can watch them.
Pssssst! Are you curious about hockey teams in other U.S. states and Canadian provinces? You can learn more by checking out our other posts: What Hockey Team Is in Pennsylvania, What Hockey Team Is in Quebec, and What Hockey Team is in Massachusetts.
Let’s dive in.
Here’s What Hockey Teams Are In New York State:
New York State is home to three NHL teams: New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Buffalo Sabres. They also have three AHL teams: Utica Comets, Syracuse Crunch, and Rochester Americans. New York has one ECHL team: Adirondack Thunder.
How Many NHL Teams Are in New York State?
New York is one of the few American states that has not one, not two, but three National Hockey League teams. New York is home to the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Buffalo Sabres.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers were introduced just a few years after the National Hockey League was formed in 1926 (nearly 100 years ago)! They compete within the Metropolitan Division in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
The Rangers play their home games out of Madison Square Garden (MSG Arena) at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza where they share arena time with the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). They’re one of three teams that play within the Greater New York Metropolitan area, with the other two being the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils.
New York Islanders
Just beyond the East River is the New York Islanders, commonly referred to as “The Isles”. Based out of Elmont, New York, the Islanders joined the NHL in 1972. They play within the Metropolitan Division in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. The Islanders play their home games at the UBS Arena located at 2400 Hempstead Turnpike.
The third and final NHL team in New York State is the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres came into the National Hockey League in 1970 alongside the Vancouver Canucks when the league expanded from 12 teams to 14 teams. The Buffalo Sabres play within the Atlantic Division within the NHL’s Eastern Conference. They play their home games at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.
What Hockey Teams Are in New York?
There are three NHL teams in New York! Plus, there are several other professional hockey teams in the AHL and ECHL and a wide variety of junior teams.
In 1926, the New York Rangers were created only 9 years after the NHL was originally formed in 1917. 44 years later, in 1970, the Buffalo Sabres were introduced to the NHL as the second NHL team in New York State. Two years later, Metropolitan New York got its second team—the New York Islanders who play opposite the Rangers on the other side of the East River.
New York also has three professional ice hockey teams in the American Hockey League (AHL). This is the minor league that acts as a developmental farm system to the NHL. New York’s three AHL teams are:
- Utica Comets (New Jersey Devils Affiliate)
- Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning Affiliate)
- Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres Affiliate)
New York State has a third professional hockey team: The Adirondack Thunder. The Thunder is an East Coast Hockey League team and is the only ECHL team that’s located in New York state. The Adirondack Thunder is a mid-level professional hockey team that is affiliated with the AHL’s Utica Comets and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
New York also has several junior hockey teams. The most prominent team is the Long Beach Sharks, a Tier III junior hockey team. They play in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL).
Why Does New York Have 3 NHL Teams?
New York is one of only two states in America that has a whopping three NHL teams! So, why so many teams? Especially when other states seem much more deserving of their own NHL team?
The main reason is simple: New York has a massive population. In fact, New York has the fourth largest population of any U.S. state. Here are the top 5 most populous states in America:
- California (39 million)
- Texas (29 million)
- Florida (21 million)
- New York (19 million)
- Pennsylvania (12 million)
If you look closely at those states, you’ll probably notice one thing: They all have at least one NHL team. But, if you look even closer, you’ll realize that every state has at least TWO National Hockey League teams (except for Texas which just has one).
New York and California both have three NHL teams simply because they have massive populations compared to the rest of the States.
So, why would New York have three hockey teams when Texas only has one (even though Texas has 10 million more people)? The reason here is simply geography and climate. Even though Texas has a larger population, it has a much warmer climate which means fewer winter activities like outdoor pond hockey at an ODR (like you’d find in New York).
Are you curious to know more about hockey in other states across the U.S.? Don’t forget to check out our other full guide: Hockey Teams in Every U.S. State: Complete NHL & College List (2023).