The History of the NHL

With the start of a new NHL season upon us, I thought I would visualize the historical performance of each NHL team. I used a format similar to my NHL Barcode Viz, except this time it’s not binary; rather, it charts Points Percentage above and below the .500 mark.

I took my inspiration from similar vizzes created by Chris Jones (MLB Franchise Performance) and Matt Chambers (The History of the NFL). I also took some pointers from Andy Kriebel in this blog post.

I have focused on seasons from 1967 to the present, i.e. the NHL’s “Expansion Era”, as only the Original Six teams were in existence prior to ’67. The franchises are ordered alphabetically within their current divisions, and with their current team names. Winning seasons are shown in the team’s colour, while losing seasons are in grey.

All-Time Summer Olympic Medals

Prior to this past summer’s Olympic Games in Rio, I came across an interesting graphic from Reuters titled Precious Medals. It displays the all-time medal standings of the Summer Olympics, and allows you to drill into each country to view its performance over time.

All-Time Summer Olympic Medals: Reuters Graphics

I was impressed with the simplicity, yet sophistication of this presentation. The clean bar charts and appropriate use of colour keep the viz uncluttered. Yet, the interactivity allows a lot of information to be embedded within the graphic.

Naturally, I decided I would try to replicate this visualization myself with Tableau.

The result of my efforts is below:

NHL Barcode Viz

The “barcode” chart has been used to great effect for visualizing the performance of sports teams over the course of a season.  After seeing the work of Peter Gilks (BallCode) and Craig Wortman (MLB Bar Code Chart), I decided to take a run at creating my own barcode viz using the results of the most recent NHL season.

If barcodes can work for basketball and baseball, then why not hockey?

My interactive viz below represents the final standings of the 2015-16 NHL regular season.

The barcode chart shows the win-loss record of each team. I used custom shapes to add the team logos and a custom colour scheme for the barcodes.

I’m generally a proponent of using colour in a chart only when it serves a purpose. In this case, the logos and corresponding colours enable any hockey fan to easily find a team based on these visual cues alone.

To fit my vertical blog format, this version allows you to view one division at a time, which you can choose from the drop-down filter at the top of the viz:


To see all teams at once, check out the full version on Tableau Public.

NHL Standings Barcode Tableau Viz