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Almost no Canadian NHL teams (1930s What If?)

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Old
10-28-2013, 11:56 AM
  #1
frontsfan2005
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Almost no Canadian NHL teams (1930s What If?)

I was reading some hockey history about the Toronto Maple Leafs and how up until Conn Smythe bought the team, it looked like they were going to move to Philadelphia. The team wasn't going to survive the 30's playing out of Mutual Street Gardens.

Also, it looked like the Montreal Canadiens were going to move to Cleveland for the 1935-36 season until they were saved at the last minute, then the club looked to suspend operations in 1939. Apparently the Habs only averaged 3000 fans a game in 1939-40 and weren't a stable franchise until the arrival of Rocket Richard.

So with the St. Pats/Leafs move to Philadelphia in the late 20's, the Senators move to St. Louis in 1934, the Habs to Cleveland in 1935 and the Maroons folding in 1938, the Original 6 era could have been Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, New York and Philadelphia. Maybe the league tries to do more to keep St. Louis and Brooklyn/NY Americans?

I wonder if a new Canadian league would have been created with cities that lost NHL teams (Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec) that would try to compete with the All-American NHL. Would the NHL expand back into some of those cities after the Depression and war years when the economy started to recover, or would they try to stay All-American like baseball, basketball and football? Would the two leagues eventually merge, or would the Canadian league become a hockey version of the CFL? Lots of what if's.

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10-28-2013, 12:17 PM
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Killion
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Ya, thats an interesting "what if" alrighty. I suspect though that had Toronto & Montreal lost the St.Pats & Canadiens respectively they'd have only been absent from the NHL for one season tops. Awarded Expansion Franchises. In Toronto you had Charlie Querrie of the Toronto Arena's/St.Pats declaring insolvency as a result of losing a lawsuit to Eddie Livingstone, interests in Philly offering $200,000 for the club. Conn Smythe supported by financier & influential Toronto local J.P. Bickell then offered $160,000 (the same amount Livingstone had been awarded) & played upon issues of "civic pride" etc which saved the team of course. Eddie Livingstone however never did collect on that $160K. Querrie appealing & tying things up, the amount eventually reduced to $10,000. Attendance in Toronto as it was in Montreal had also been a problem since 1917, the Toronto Arena Corporation under Querrie carrying heavy debt for years while contemporaneously fighting off Livingstone, competing for talent with the Patricks on the westcoast & with other leagues.

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10-28-2013, 12:41 PM
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Canadiens1958
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Montreal Canadiens

Initially the Montreal Canadiens were the second tenant at the Montreal Forum which was built for the expansion Montreal Maroons.

1935-36 was a negotiating ploy as the initial contract on the Forum lease had expired and the team wanted equal status with the Maroons.Worked and the team stayed. Montreal Maroons folded in 1938 with certain players joining the Canadiens, others going to other teams. Maroons were a 1924 expansion team, effectively replacing the Montreal Wanderers after a fire destroyed their arena during the first NHL season, January 2, 1918. The Maroons never built a following beyond their initial niche and eventually ceased being profitable.

1939 saw the start of WWII in September so their was a fair amount of uncertainty throughout Canada and Montreal about the future of sports in general, hockey in particular.

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10-28-2013, 05:39 PM
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doug hamilton
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I have always been under the impression that the Maroons were more the team for Anglo Montrealers though I can't quote where I heard that being promoted.

It wouldn't have been out of the question for the NHL to simply collapse in the 1930s. It's easy to downplay just how ruinous the great depression was and how difficult it was to keep a team going. Without dominant personalities like Conn Smythe or the Montreal ownership (would it have been the Molson's by then?) it would be really tempting for a team to throw in the towel.

I can't help but think that Montreal or Toronto moving cities would have suffered the same fate as Ottawa moving to St. Louis. In fact I don't think any team that relocated in the early NHL was able to survive, though it may have been partially subterfuge not economics that killed the Americans.

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10-28-2013, 06:10 PM
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Killion
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^^^ Yes indeed, the Maroons were a team that catered to the Anglo audience in Montreal & Quebec, though they did have the odd Francophone on their squads at various times as too did the Habs. The Canadiens situation by 1938/39 after the Maroons had cratered was pretty precarious financially, anemic on the ice under Pit Lepine and at the gate. Dick Irvin who had Coached Toronto and who Conn Smythe had essentially forced into tendering his resignation despite considerable success with the Leafs was more or less parachuted into Montreal in the hopes that he could turn things around. Which of course he did, coinciding with Maurice Richards arrival etc. So not only did Conn there drive one of the greatest Coaches in Irvin east to Montreal, he later on in the 40's did the same with Frank Selke' Sr who laid the tracks for the Habs Dynastys right through the 70's.

... and ya, during the 20's & 30's some seriously boneheaded moves by the NHL. They Relocate the Ottawa Senators to St.Louis & leave them to play in the Canadian Division, necessitating lengthy & expensive travel, no natural rivals with Detroit & Chicago etc, so they wind up going bust after selling all their best talent to make ends meet. In Philly, Bootlegger Billy Dwyer, owner of the NY Americans had one of his henchman front ownership of a team, the Quakers, Billy there dreaming of building "Gardens" arenas after New Yorks Madison Square Gardens and controlling boxing along with hockey in 6-10 US cities before the market crashed in 1929 & the Volstead Act was repealed, shutting down his illegal activities throughout the northeast & midwest. The Quakers in Philadelphia imploded, moved to Pittsburgh but there too absent suitable facilities D.O.A... Big Bill a contemporary of Capone. End of his dreams. Died practically broke & destitute. Ran brothels, loan shark etc. Quite the piece of work to work for apparently & just loved his hockey players, absolutely first class everything & he paid way better than everyone else in the league. Generous with them to a fault... The NHL eventually taking over the Americans under Red Dutton then suspending operations early 40's. Dutton promised the team would be able to join play post war provided they could get a building done in Brooklyn. Dutton interim President of the NHL during WW2 after the Americans were suspended and prior to Campbells appointment.. on & on. Needless to say the league reneged on their promise to Red Dutton who was out of a job & out of a team. Swell bunch of guys huh?... whats incredible is that it really hasnt changed all that much. Just a bit more sophisticated.


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10-29-2013, 08:48 PM
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frontsfan2005
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Does anyone know what the reasoning was in the early 30's to have the New York Americans in the Canadian Division? I understand that in 1931, the Quakers folded and the Senators took a leave of absence, but when Ottawa returned for the 32-33 season, why not shift the Americans to the American Division? Did they want the two NYC teams to be separated? They probably would have been better off playing against traditional US rivals like Boston, Chicago, the Rangers and Detroit than by having Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa coming into town for divisional games. One would think that if a US team was forced into the Canadian Division that Detroit would be that team, being so close to the border.

As for the Senators relocating to St. Louis, that made even less sense having the Eagles in with the two Montreal teams, Toronto and the Americans. Why not move them to the American Division and make it a five team division? That alone pretty much killed the franchise.

I do think that if the Leafs moved to Philadelphia, that the Senators probably would have ended up in Toronto, provided Maple Leaf Gardens or something similar was built. Ottawa, while a great hockey city, was way too small for the NHL at the time. Toronto was the second smallest NHL city in the 30's, while Ottawa was the smallest, being only something like 1/6th the size of Toronto in 1934.

If the Habs did move to Cleveland, I'm sure the NHL would make sure the Maroons stayed put in Montreal when they ran into trouble in 1938.

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10-29-2013, 09:27 PM
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New York Americans

Quote:
Originally Posted by frontsfan2005 View Post
Does anyone know what the reasoning was in the early 30's to have the New York Americans in the Canadian Division? I understand that in 1931, the Quakers folded and the Senators took a leave of absence, but when Ottawa returned for the 32-33 season, why not shift the Americans to the American Division? Did they want the two NYC teams to be separated? They probably would have been better off playing against traditional US rivals like Boston, Chicago, the Rangers and Detroit than by having Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa coming into town for divisional games. One would think that if a US team was forced into the Canadian Division that Detroit would be that team, being so close to the border.

As for the Senators relocating to St. Louis, that made even less sense having the Eagles in with the two Montreal teams, Toronto and the Americans. Why not move them to the American Division and make it a five team division? That alone pretty much killed the franchise.

I do think that if the Leafs moved to Philadelphia, that the Senators probably would have ended up in Toronto, provided Maple Leaf Gardens or something similar was built. Ottawa, while a great hockey city, was way too small for the NHL at the time. Toronto was the second smallest NHL city in the 30's, while Ottawa was the smallest, being only something like 1/6th the size of Toronto in 1934.

If the Habs did move to Cleveland, I'm sure the NHL would make sure the Maroons stayed put in Montreal when they ran into trouble in 1938.

The New York Americans were the old Hamilton Tigers and when the NHL went to the Canadian and American Division format at the start of the 1926-27 season,stayed in the Canadian Division while the American Division featured the new American franchises of the time with the two US franchises, Boston and Pittsburgh that were not transferred from Canada.

The Canadian teams with Morenz,Charlie Conacher, etc were the gate attractions.

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10-29-2013, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
... and ya, during the 20's & 30's some seriously boneheaded moves by the NHL. ... In Philly, Bootlegger Billy Dwyer, owner of the NY Americans had one of his henchman front ownership of a team, the Quakers, Billy there dreaming of building "Gardens" arenas after New Yorks Madison Square Gardens and controlling boxing along with hockey in 6-10 US cities before the market crashed in 1929 & the Volstead Act was repealed, shutting down his illegal activities throughout the northeast & midwest. The Quakers in Philadelphia imploded, moved to Pittsburgh but there too absent suitable facilities D.O.A... Big Bill a contemporary of Capone.
Other way 'round, Killion. "Big Bill" and his front man, Benny Leonard, bought the Pittsburgh Pirates in '28 and moved them to Philly in 1930. They were hoping to have an arena built in Pittsburgh and the move to Philly was only supposed to be temporary, but they went belly-up in '31 anyway.




Letting the Leafs and Habs move to Philadelphia, Cleveland or cities elsewhere probably would have killed the NHL. The AHA would have moved in on Toronto and Montreal right away.


Last edited by Hoser: 10-29-2013 at 10:15 PM.
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