Detailed findings & methodology:
The Hockey Hall of Fame lists players differently than the other halls of fame. An inducted hockey player is listed with all the teams he ever played for, whereas MLB players are only associated with one team. When separating Hall of Famers by franchise, the NFL breaks up enshrinees into whether they were major or minor contributors to a franchise. For instance, Jerry Rice is a major contributor to the San Francisco 49ers as he spent many successful years with that franchise. Rice is also a minor contributor to the Seattle Seahawks because he played nine games there. For this article, Rice is only counted as a San Francisco 49er.
The six teams with the most inducted players of any league are the NHL’s Original Six franchises: The Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Original Six were the only NHL franchises from 1942 to 1967, so any great hockey players in those years played for one of those franchises. The three other leagues were also in operation during that time (the NBA’s forerunner the BAA began in 1946), but all had more franchises, so the talent was more evenly distributed.
Honors at the NBA and NHL halls of fame are limited to professional players. The sports of basketball and hockey honor athletes from the college and amateur ranks, as well as coaches and general managers, entire groundbreaking teams, and media contributors in their halls of fame.
Most of these teams have decades of history, but two of the entries on this list — the Cleveland Browns and Ottawa Senators — went defunct and came back. The first incarnation of the Browns moved from Cleveland to Baltimore after the 1995 season, where it became the Ravens. The Browns came back to Cleveland in 1999, but found little success since then, only making the playoffs once. The Senators had a much longer hiatus. The original Senators folded after the 1933-1934 season and didn’t come back until 1992. Despite over five decades of absence, the original Senators were so loaded with great players that the team still has among the most Hall of Fame players of any hockey franchise.
To determine the teams with the most Hall of Fame inductees, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the players as organized by franchise on the Hall of Fame website for each of the four major American sports leagues — NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL. Only active franchises were considered.
Each sport’s Hall of Fame associates players with franchises differently. MLB Hall of Famers were listed with one primary team. Enshrined NFL Hall of Famers had at least one primary team, though some have multiple primary teams, as they greatly contributed to multiple organizations. NFL honorees were counted for all teams for which they are considered a major contributor. NBA and NHL Hall of Famers were listed with each team they played for in their careers. For the NBA, only coaches and players were considered. For the NHL, only players were considered. Teams with an identical number of Hall of Fame players were organized alphabetically.