1917–18 NHL season

Last updated
1917–18 NHL season
League National Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
DurationDecember 19, 1917 – March 6, 1918
Number of games22
Number of teams4 (3)
Regular season
Season champions Montreal Canadiens
Top scorer Joe Malone (Canadiens)
League
Champions Toronto
  Runners-up Montreal Canadiens
NHL seasons

The 1917–18 NHL season was the first season of the National Hockey League (NHL). The league was formed after the suspension of the National Hockey Association (NHA). Play was held in two halves, December 19 to February 4, and February 6 to March 6. The Canadiens won the first half, and Toronto the second half. The Montreal Wanderers withdrew early in January 1918 after their rink, the Westmount Arena, burned down. Toronto won the NHL playoff and then won the Stanley Cup by defeating the PCHA's Vancouver Millionaires three games to two in a best-of-five series.

In an organized sports league, a typical season is the portion of one year in which regulated games of the sport are in session: for example, in Major League Baseball the season lasts approximately from April to October. In other team sports, like association football or basketball, it is generally from August or September to May although in some countries - such as Northern Europe or East Asia - the season starts in the spring and finishes in autumn, mainly due to weather conditions encountered during the winter.

National Hockey League North American professional ice hockey league

The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The NHL is considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world, and one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season.

The National Hockey Association (NHA), officially the National Hockey Association of Canada Limited, was a professional ice hockey organization with teams in Ontario and Quebec, Canada. It is the direct predecessor to today's National Hockey League (NHL). Founded in 1909 by Ambrose O'Brien, the NHA introduced 'six-man hockey' by removing the 'rover' position in 1911. During its lifetime, the league coped with competition for players with the rival Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA), the enlistment of players for World War I and disagreements between owners. The disagreements between owners came to a head in 1917, when the NHA suspended operations in order to get rid of an unwanted owner. The remaining NHA team owners started the NHL in parallel as a temporary measure, to continue play while negotiations went on with Livingstone and other lawsuits were pending. A year later, after no progress was reached with Livingstone, the other NHA owners decided to permanently suspend the NHA. The NHA's rules, constitution and trophies were continued in the NHL.

Contents

League business

In November 1917, the owners of the NHA, apparently unwilling to continue the league with Toronto NHA owner Eddie Livingstone, decided to suspend the NHA and form a new league, the NHL, without Livingstone. The events transpired as follows:

On October 19, a meeting of the NHA board of directors was held. Livingstone did not attend, sending lawyer Eddie Barclay. Barclay was informed by the directors that Toronto would not play in the 1917–18 season due to the difficulty of operating a five-team league, both in scheduling and availability of players during wartime. Livingstone then publicly announced that he would set up an international circuit and raid the NHA players. [1]

On November 9, 1917, it was reported that the Toronto NHA franchise was sold to Charles Querrie of the Toronto Arena corporation. At this point, NHA president Robertson and secretary Frank Calder denied that the NHA would change, dissolve or adopt other subterfuge. [2] This sale never completed.

The November 10, 1917, annual meeting of the NHA was presided over by Calder, and attended by Martin Rosenthal and E.P Dey for Ottawa; Sam Lichtenheim for the Wanderers; George Kennedy for the Canadiens and M. J. Quinn and Charles Fremont for Quebec. At the meeting, Livingstone was represented by J. F. Boland, who stated that if the league operates that the Toronto franchise intended to be a full member. The NHA voted to suspend operations but not wind up the organization and meet in one year's time. According to the Globe, there was a movement to form a new four-team league of Toronto, Ottawa and the two Montreal teams. [3] The Toronto representative offered to allow the Arena Gardens to manage the Torontos and lease the players. [4]

There then followed a period of speculation in the newspapers as to whether Quebec would play in the new season and what would be the league organization. One name for the new league was speculated: the "National Professional Hockey League". If Quebec could play then the Toronto players would be dispersed; if Quebec could not play then the Toronto players would be loaned to a temporary Toronto franchise. Representatives of Ottawa, Quebec, and the Montreal teams met on November 22, 1917, but adjourned without a decision. [5]

On November 26, 1917, representatives of the Ottawa, Quebec, and Montreal NHA clubs met at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal. The decision to start a new league was finalized and announced. The decision was made to start a new league, the National Hockey League, with the following provisions:

Frank Calder Canadian ice hockey administrator

Frank Sellick Calder was a British-born Canadian ice hockey executive, journalist, and athlete. He is most notable for serving as the first president of the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1917 until his death in 1943. He was the last president of the NHL's predecessor league, the National Hockey Association (NHA), and was instrumental in the transition from the NHA to the NHL, a transition made to expel a franchise owner. He presided over the expansion of the NHL from Canada into the United States, while at the same time fending off rivals to the NHL's status as the premier North American ice hockey league.

A Toronto franchise was to be operated 'temporarily' by the Arena Gardens while the Toronto ownership situation was resolved. The franchise used the players of the Blueshirts, including those who had been transferred to other NHA teams for the second half of the 1916–17 NHA season. While Livingstone agreed to a lease of the team, the NHL owners did not intend to share any revenues from the players. Livingstone would sue for the team's revenues in 1918. George Kennedy, owner of the Canadiens, would later say:

"The Toronto players belong as a body to the National Hockey League, for they were only loaned to the Toronto Arena Company, though Livingstone tried to make the Arena Company believe that he controlled those players" [6]

The team played without a nickname for the season.

According to Holzman, [7] the NHL itself was intended to operate temporarily until the Toronto NHA franchise was resolved. The NHA had a pending lawsuit against the 228th Battalion, and could or would not fold until after that was heard.

Quebec dispersal draft

According to McFarlane, the owners of the Quebec franchise asked $200 per man selected; but the amount received by the franchise is not recorded. The Wanderers took four players, but overlooked great Joe Malone, who was picked up by the Canadiens, who also took Joe Hall. Odie Cleghorn and Sprague Cleghorn joined the Wanderers, but Sprague broke a leg and was sidelined. [8]

Rule changes

On January 9, 1918, the league decided to allow goaltenders to drop to the ice surface in order to make saves. This was the first implemented and amended rule change in the National Hockey League. It was done in response to Ottawa's Clint Benedict constantly falling to make saves. [9] According to NHL president Frank Calder, "As far as I am concerned they can stand on their head(s)." [10]

Regular season

The new league faced stiff competition for players from a number of other leagues including the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Also, filling rosters was a challenge because the talent pool was decimated by World War I.

The Wanderers were in trouble from the start of the season. They won their home opener but drew only 700 fans. The Wanderers then lost the next three games and owner Lichtenhein threatened to withdraw from the league unless he could get some players. Although they could have acquired Joe Malone in the draft, they turned to the PCHA and signed goaltender Hap Holmes. They also obtained permission to sign such players as Frank Foyston, Jack Walker and others if they could do so. The Wanderers loaned Holmes to the Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA, but he eventually found his way back to the NHL when Seattle loaned him to Toronto.

Ruins of Montreal Arena Arena Fire.JPG
Ruins of Montreal Arena

A league meeting was planned to deal with the situation, but on January 2, 1918, the matter was resolved when the Montreal Arena burned down, leaving the Canadiens and Wanderers homeless. The Canadiens moved into the 3,250 seat Jubilee Rink. [11] The Hamilton arena offered to provide a home for the Wanderers, but Lichtenhein disbanded the team on January 4, after the other clubs refused to give him any players. The remaining three teams would complete the season.

The last active player from the inaugural season was Reg Noble, who retired following the 1933 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Highlights

The first game of the season, and in league history, featured the visiting Montreal Canadiens defeat the Ottawa Senators 7-4, with Joe Malone scoring five of Montreal's seven goals. [12] On the same night a game featured the unnamed Toronto team versus the Wanderers. Montreal's Dave Ritchie scored the first goal in NHL history and Harry Hyland had four goals (the league's first hat trick) in the Wanderers' 10–9 victory, which would be their only one in the NHL; Player-coach Art Ross earned the league's first penalty. [13] The game in Montreal was played in front of only 700 fans. [14]

On January 28, when the Canadiens visited Toronto, players Alf Skinner and Joe Hall got into a stick-swinging duel. Both players received match penalties, $15 fines and were arrested by the Toronto Police for disorderly conduct, for which they received suspended sentences.

In February, Ken Randall of Toronto was suspended pending payment of $35 in fines to the league. He brought $32 in paper money and 300 pennies. The pennies were refused. He tossed his bag of pennies onto the ice prior to the game against Ottawa, and one of the Ottawa players banged it with his stick, scattering the pennies around the ice. The game was delayed while the pennies were picked up. [14]

Final standings

First Half
GPWLTPtsGFGA
Montreal Canadiens 141040208147
Toronto Hockey Club 14860167175
Ottawa Senators 14590106779
Montreal Wanderers 615021735
Second Half
GPWLTPtsGFGA
Toronto Hockey Club 8530103734
Ottawa Senators 844083535
Montreal Canadiens 835063437

[15] Note: GP = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against
Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.
The Wanderers defaulted scheduled games against the Canadiens (Jan. 2, 1918) and Toronto (Jan. 5, 1918), when their arena burned down.
These appear as losses in the standings, but the games were not played. [16]

Wanderers defaulted scheduled games against the Canadiens (Jan. 2, 1918) and Toronto (Jan. 5, 1918), when their arena burned down. These appear as losses in the standings, but the games were not played.

"The league did not accept the Wanderers' resignation immediately, electing to wait and see whether the team showed up for its scheduled match in Toronto on Saturday January 5. ... The deadline did expire, and the once-powerful team that had been known as the Little Men of Iron was thrown onto the scrap heap of hockey history. The Wanderers' scheduled games of January 2 and 5 were officially recorded in the standings as victories for their respective opponents, the Canadiens and Torontos." — Holzman. [17]

Playoffs

NHL Championship

Montreal had won the first half of the NHL split season and Toronto had won the second half. The two teams then played a two-game total goals series for the NHL championship. The series saw lots of fighting involving Bert Corbeau and Newsy Lalonde. [14] Toronto won the series and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Arenas

Toronto won series on total goals 10–7

Stanley Cup Finals

1917-18 season Toronto Arenas. Top row, from left: Rusty Crawford, Harry Meeking, Ken Randall, Corbett Denneny, Harry Cameron. Middle row, from left: Dick Carroll, Jack Adams, Charles Querrie, Alf Skinner, Frank Carroll. Bottom row, from left: O'Brien Cup, Harry Mummery, Harry "Hap" Homes, Reg Noble, Stanley Cup. Toronto Arenas.jpg
1917–18 season Toronto Arenas. Top row, from left: Rusty Crawford, Harry Meeking, Ken Randall, Corbett Denneny, Harry Cameron. Middle row, from left: Dick Carroll, Jack Adams, Charles Querrie, Alf Skinner, Frank Carroll. Bottom row, from left: O'Brien Cup, Harry Mummery, Harry "Hap" Homes, Reg Noble, Stanley Cup.

The championship series was played at Arena Gardens in Toronto. The games alternated between seven-man PCHA rules and NHL six-man rules. Toronto won all three games played under NHL rules, and Vancouver won the two games played under PCHA rules. Although Vancouver's Mickey MacKay was described as sensational in the fifth and deciding game, it was Corbett Denneny of Toronto who scored the winning goal and Toronto won the Stanley Cup. [18]

Toronto won series 3–2

Schedule and results

Results

First half
MonthDayVisitorScoreHomeScore
Dec.19Canadiens7Ottawa4
19Toronto9Wanderers10
21Ottawa4Toronto11
21Canadiens11Wanderers2
26Ottawa6Wanderers3
26Canadiens5Toronto7
29Wanderers2Ottawa9
29Toronto2Canadiens9
Jan.2Toronto6Ottawa5
2†WanderersCanadiens
5Ottawa5Canadiens6 (27' OT)
5†WanderersToronto
9Canadiens4Toronto6
12Ottawa4Canadiens9
14Toronto6Ottawa9
16Ottawa4Toronto5
19Toronto1Canadiens5
21Canadiens5Ottawa3
23Ottawa4Canadiens3
26Toronto3Ottawa6
28Canadiens1Toronto5
30Canadiens5Ottawa2
Feb.2Toronto2Canadiens11
4Ottawa2Toronto8

† Montreal Arena burned down and Wanderers withdraw. Two Wanderers games count as wins for Canadiens and Toronto.

Second half
MonthDayVisitorScoreHomeScore
Feb.6Canadiens3Ottawa6
9Toronto7Canadiens3
11Ottawa1Toronto3
13Toronto6Ottawa1
16Ottawa4Canadiens10
18Canadiens9Toronto0
20Toronto4Canadiens5
23Ottawa3Toronto9
25Canadiens0Ottawa8
27Ottawa3Canadiens1 (at Quebec)
Mar.2Canadiens3Toronto5
6Toronto3Ottawa9

Awards

Note:

The O'Brien Cup, still considered the championship of the NHA, was not actually awarded to Toronto in 1918. It remained under the care of the Canadiens who had won it in 1917, until the death of their owner, George Kennedy, in 1921, when the NHL made arrangements to re-use the trophy. [19] The Hockey Hall of Fame lists Toronto as the winner for 1917–18.

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points, PIM = Penalties In Minutes

PlayerTeamGPGAPtsPIM
Joe Malone Montreal Canadiens204444830
Cy Denneny Ottawa Senators2036104680
Reg Noble Toronto2030104035
Newsy Lalonde Montreal Canadiens142373051
Corbett Denneny Toronto212092914
Harry Cameron Toronto2117102728
Didier Pitre Montreal Canadiens201762329
Eddie Gerard Ottawa Senators201372026
Jack Darragh Ottawa Senators181451926
Frank Nighbor Ottawa Senators10118196

Source: NHL [20]

Leading goaltenders

NameTeamGPMinsWLTGASO GAA
Georges Vezina Canadiens21128212908413.93
Harry Holmes Toronto169659707604.73
Clint Benedict Ottawa221337913011415.12
Art Brooks Toronto42202202306.27
Sammy Hebert Toronto2801001007.50

Source: NHL [21]

NHL playoff scoring leaders

GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, Pts = Points

PlayerTeamGPGAPts
Alf Skinner Toronto78311
Newsy Lalonde Canadiens2426 [22]
Harry Cameron Toronto7404
Harry Meeking Toronto7404
Reg Noble Toronto7303

Coaches

Debuts

The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1917–18 (listed with their first team, not including players who previously played in the NHA):

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1917–18 (listed with their last team):

See also

Related Research Articles

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History of the National Hockey League (1917–1942)

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The 1917–18 Montreal Canadiens season was the team's ninth season and first as a member of the new National Hockey League (NHL). The Canadiens sided with other members of the National Hockey Association (NHA) and voted to suspend the NHA and start the NHL to expel the Toronto Blueshirts ownership. The Canadiens qualified for the playoffs by winning the first half of the season, but lost the playoff to the temporary Toronto franchise, made up of Blueshirts players.

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The 1918–19 Toronto Arenas season was the second season of the Toronto franchise of the National Hockey League. After being operated on a temporary basis in the previous year, the team became a formal entity, known as the 'Toronto Arena Hockey Club.' The club played 18 games and suspended operations.

References

  1. "Ed Livingstone Now Threatens To Break Up Pro Hockey Assn If Toronto is Forced Out". Ottawa Citizen. October 21, 1917. p. 8.
  2. Coleman 1966, p. 328.
  3. "N.H.A. Decides To Remain Idle". The Globe. November 12, 1917. p. 14.
  4. Holzman 2002, p. 151.
  5. "Same Old Story: N.H.A. Uncertain". The Globe. November 23, 1917.
  6. from "Trying Hard to Wreck Pro Hockey". Montreal Star. October 1, 1918. p. 6. as quoted in Holzman2002, page 371.
  7. Holzman 2002, p. 193.
  8. McFarlane 1973, p. 26.
  9. Coleman 1966, p. 333.
  10. Dryden 2000, p. 20.
  11. Fischler 2003, p. 31.
  12. Kreiser, John (December 20, 2017). "First games in NHL history occurred 99 years ago". NHL. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  13. Boswell, Randy (April 16, 2017). "Solving the mystery of the NHL's 1st game". CBC News. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  14. 1 2 3 McFarlane 1973, p. 27.
  15. Standings: NHL Public Relations Department (2008). Dave McCarthy; et al., eds. THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE Official Guide & Record Book/2009. National Hockey League. p. 145. ISBN   978-1-894801-14-0.
  16. Holzman, Morey; Joseph Nieforth (2002). "Lichtenhein Loses the War". Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey. Toronto: Dundurn Press. pp. 169–70. ISBN   1-55002-413-2. The league did not accept the Wanderers' resignation immediately, electing to wait and see whether the team showed up for its scheduled match in Toronto on Saturday January 5. ... The deadline did expire, and the once-powerful team that had been known as the Little Men of Iron was thrown onto the scrap heap of hockey history. The Wanderers' scheduled games of January 2 and 5 were officially recorded in the standings as victories for their respective opponents, the Canadiens and Torontos.
  17. Holzman 2002, pp. 169–70.
  18. McFarlane 1973, pp. 27–28.
  19. "O'Brien Trophy To Be Given To Ottawa". The Morning Leader. Regina, Saskatchewan. November 17, 1921. p. 14. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  20. Dinger 2011, p. 145.
  21. "1917–18 Regular Season – Goalie Season Stats Leaders". NHL. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  22. https://www.nhl.com/player/newsy-lalonde-8447289?stats=career-p-nhl&season=19211922

Bibliography

Preceded by
1916–17 NHA season
First NHL season
1917–18
Succeeded by
1918–19 NHL season