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Eastern Conference logo, circa 2006
French version of the Eastern Conference logo

The Eastern Conference (French: Conférence de l'Est) is one of two conferences in the National Hockey League (NHL) used to divide teams. Its counterpart is the Western Conference.

Previously known as the Prince of Wales Conference (or Wales Conference for short), it was created in 1974 when the NHL realigned its teams into two conferences and four divisions. Because the new conferences and divisions had little to do with North American geography, geographical references were removed. The conference was instead named for the Prince of Wales Trophy.

The Prince of Wales Trophy dates back to 1924, when it was donated to the League by the then-current Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII. It was originally given to the NHL's champion. (Until 1926, the Stanley Cup was presented to the winner of a post-season playoff between the NHL and Western Hockey League champions.) Since 1926–1927, the Stanley Cup has gone to the NHL's playoff champion. During the years when the NHL had no divisions, (i.e., 1927 and 1938 to 1967), the Prince of Wales Trophy was presented to the league's regular-season champion (analogous to today's President's Trophy.) From 1928 to 1937 the trophy went to the American Division champion, and from 1967 to 1974 it was presented to the East Division champion.

The conferences and divisions were re-aligned in 1981 to better reflect the geographical locations of the teams, but the existing names were retained with the Wales Conference becoming the conference for the NHL's Eastern North America teams. The names of conferences and divisions were changed in 1993 to reflect their geographic locations. Then-new NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made the change to help non-hockey fans better understand the game, as the National Basketball Association, National Football League, and Major League Baseball all use geographic-based names for their conferences and divisions. However, the trophy awarded to the conference champion, the Prince of Wales Trophy, retains some connection to the heritage of the league. In 2005, following the lockout, Gary Bettman changed the Eastern Conference logo (along with the Western Conference and NHL logos) to its current form.


Before the 1993 realignment, the Wales Conference consisted of the Adams Division and the Patrick Division. Currently, the Eastern Conference comprises 15 teams in three divisions: Atlantic, Northeast, and Southeast.




Stanley Cup champions produced


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