OVER 100 YEARS OF EMOTIONAL TRADITION
Since 1893, Hockey teams from all over Canada, and for the first time in1914, the United States, have competed for the coveted Stanley Cup.
Lord Stanley of Preston first introduced the Cup in 1893, after his family relocated to Canada in 1888 by order of Queen Victoria. This resulted in the entire family becoming very enthusiastic about Hockey, and Lord Stanley witnessed his first game at Montreal’s Winter Carnival of 1889, between the Montreal Victoria’s and the Montreal Hockey Club.
“[Lord Stanley] expressed great delight with the game of Hockey and the expertise of the players.” was written by The Montreal Gazette the following day.
At the time, Montreal and Ottawa had what was closest to what we call leagues today, due to Ice Hockey still being relatively new to the Western world.
With the family’s interest in Hockey at its pique, Lord Stanley’s sons, Arthur and Algernon, even went on to start their own Hockey Club, the Ottawa Rideau Hall Rebels. This prompted them to persuade their Father of the need for, “an outward and visible sign of the Hockey championship.”
On March 18th, 1892, the following message was sent by Lord Stanley, to the victory celebration at Russell Hotel for the Ottawa Hockey Club (today’s Ottawa Senators);
“I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion [of Canada].
There does not appear to be any such outward sign of a championship at present, and considering the general interest which matches now elicit, and the importance of having the game played fairly and under rules generally recognized, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held from year to year by the winning team.
I am not quite certain that the present regulations governing the arrangement of matches give entire satisfaction, and it would be worth considering whether they could not be arranged so that each team would play once at home and once at the place where their opponents hail from.”
Soon after, the result was what silver expert Jon Culme described as a rose bowl, but was frequently described as a punch bowl. Made in England, sold by G.R. Collis and Company (today’s Boodle and Dunthorne Jewellers), and worth ten guineas (roughly $1,297 in today’s US Currency), the original Stanley Cup, then known as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, was born.
Lord Stanley never presented his own Cup, nor did he ever witness a Stanley Cup Final. This was due to the untimely death of his elder brother, Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby, forcing Lord Stanley to return to England, thus becoming the 16th Earl of Derby in 1893.
Originally, the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup was awarded to the top amateur team in Canada and challenged annually by any other Canadian amateur team. Then, having club names, players, builders, and years inscribed on a silver ring and added to the Cup was only an option at a winning team’s own expense.
Only two rules of the original Cup remain today. Those are the absolute authority of the Cup’s two trustee’s and ownership never belonging to any one team, even if won multiple times.
Many of the rules in Hockey today came from who would be known as, “The Father of Modern Day Hockey.” Lester Patrick created many of today’s rules of the game, to include the Playoff format used for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and many other major sports. Coincidentally, Lester Patrick played for the team who won the Stanley Cup 100 years ago, for the 1917-1918 season.
TORONTO BLUESHIRTS PROVIDE TALENT TO PCHA
For many of Seattle’s players at the time, it was not their first Stanley Cup. In 1915, the Metropolitans were an expansion in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. To stock, the team, the Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association were raided. With a Stanley Cup win in 1914, this immediately made the Metropolitans roster competitive. Blueshirts’ players moved to Seattle were Eddie Carpenter, Frank Foyston, Harry “Hap” Holmes, Jack Walker, and Cully Wilson.
With not two, but three Stanley Cups (Toronto Blueshirts 1914, Seattle Metropolitans 1917, Victoria Cougars 1925), Frank Foyston was inducted into the Hockey Hall of fame in 1958. During his time with Seattle, Foyston was able to lead the PCHA in points for two seasons.
To this day, Harry “Hap” Holmes remains one of two goaltenders to win the Stanley Cup four times with four different teams. The only other player to do so was Blueshirts teammate, Jack Marshall.
After Stanley Cup wins with the Blueshirts and the Metropolitans, Homes was signed as a free agent to the Montreal Wanderers in November 1917. In turn, the Wanderers sent him back to Seattle on loan the following December. After another subsequent month, in January 1918, Hap returned to Toronto on loan from Seattle, to play in the newly formed NHL on the Toronto’s/Toronto Arenas.
Holmes went on to play for the Metropolitans again, and when the PCHA merged with the WCHL, he went on to play for the Victoria Cougars. Two seasons prior to his retirement, Harry would play for new NHL franchise, the Detroit Cougars. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.
One Metropolitan Star who did not play for the Blueshirts, but played an integral role in the 1917 Stanley Cup Final, was Bernie Morris. A notably explosive player, Morris would go on to play for the Calgary Tigers and the Boston Bruins, but would ultimately be released back to various minor league teams.
SEATTLE METROPOLITANS ARE THE FIRST AMERICAN TEAM TO WIN STANLEY CUP
In 1914, with the establishment of the Portland Rosebuds, the trustees of the Cup issued a statement that the Cup was no longer only available to the best team in Canada, but to the best team in the world.
The Rosebuds became the first American team to play in the Stanley Cup Final in 1916, but in 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team win the Stanley Cup, defeating the National Hockey Association’s Montreal Canadiens three games to one.
The best-of-five game series was held at the Seattle Ice Arena. With varying rules between the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the National Hockey Association, games one and three were played by PCHA’s seven-man rules, games two and four played using NHA’s six-man rules.
The Canadiens began the series strong with a victory over the Metropolitans, despite narrowly defeating the Ottawa Hockey Club, 7-6, in a two-game total goals series. Adapting to PCHA rules quickly, goals were scored early and often with Didier Pitre scoring 4 goals, Con Corbeau with 2, and Jack Laviolette and Newsy Lalonde with 1 goal apiece. For the Metropolitans, Bernie Morris scored a hat trick with Frank Foyston scoring 1, to bring the final score to 8-4 in favor of the Canadiens.
Seattle tied the series in game two under NHA rules. Bernie Morris and Wilson scoring in the first, Frank Foyston and Bernie Morris scoring again in the second, with Frank Foyston scoring two to complete a hat trick in the third. Tommy Smith of the Canadiens scored in the final minutes to spoil the shutout, to bring the score to 6-1, Metropolitans. Anger taking over at the start of the third for the second fight between Roy Rickey and Billy Coutu, with Harry Mummery jumping in.
The third game of the series was possibly the most exciting to watch, and today hear about. Scoreless for the first 10 minutes, Bernie Morris opened the scoring with the only goal in the first. During the second, Montreal Goaltender and Hockey Hall of Famer, Georges Vezina, held off the Metropolitans throughout the second, including a ten-minute power play, the result of the third fight between Coutu and Rickey in the series. Coutu was given a twenty-minute penalty, and Rickey a ten-minute penalty, respectively.
Bernie Morris was the star of game four, scoring four goals in the first in an individual rush. A valiant effort was made by the Canadiens but was stricken down by Seattle’s defense. In the second, the Metropolitans scored three more goals, putting the game out of reach for the Canadiens. In the third, Jack Laviolette broke the shutout, as Seattle scored twice more to win the game 9-1, and the series three games to one.
The Canadiens and the Metropolitans would meet again in the 1919 Stanley Cup Final, but the series was abandoned due to Spanish Flu Epidemic. The series was tied 2-2-1 when it was canceled.
CHECK BACK ONE YEAR FROM NOW TO READ ABOUT WHO WON THE STANLEY CUP IN 1918!
I hope you’ve reading early Hockey history, as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Be sure to check out other historical articles on the site!