April 15, 2010

Stanley Cup History: East vs. West 1913-1926

In 1913 an agreement was struck between hockey's two major professional leagues - the Eastern-base National Hockey Association (forerunner to the NHL) and the western-based Pacific Coast Hockey Association. The winner of each league would face-off in the Stanley Cup finals starting in 1914, effectively ending the Stanley Cup's challenge era. The arrangement stated that the series would be played alternately in the east and west, and that the different rules of the two leagues would alternate game by game.

Here's a look at the days of East vs West series:

1913-14 - Toronto Blueshirts - The Stanley Cup made it's first journey to Toronto in 1914. Although the outbreak of war overshadowed the event, Toronto had to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 in a total goals playoff series before being crowned champions. Toronto then successfully defeated Victoria, winning 3 straight games in a best of five series.

GHL's MVP - Frank Foyston

1914-15 - Vancouver Millionaires - While the Ottawa Senators were able to defeat the Montreal Wanderers for the NHA championship, they would not win the Stanley Cup. The PCHA Vancouver Millionaires convincingly defeated the NHAers, winning 3 straight games and outscoring Ottawa 26 to 8. The series was played in Vancouver, upon artificial ice.

GHL's MVP - Cyclone Taylor

1915-16 - Montreal Canadiens - The Montreal Canadiens would win their first of many Stanley Cup championships, and their only title outside of the NHL. Montreal, backstopped by the great Georges Vezina, then had an unusual opponent for the Stanley Cup - an American team. The Portland (Oregon) Rosebuds (formerly the New Westminster Royals) challenged the Canadiens in a tough, 5 game series.

GHL's MVP - Goldie Prodgers

1916-17 - Seattle Metropolitans - The inevitable happened in 1917, as an American team won the Stanley Cup. Seattle, the PCHA champs, defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions Montreal Canadiens in four games.

GHL's MVP - Bernie Morris

1917-18 - Toronto Arenas - The NHA collapsed because league owners wanted Toronto owner Eddie Livingstone out. They formed a new league, the NHL, without Livingstone. The NHL included a new team in Toronto, the Arenas, who defeated the PCHA champion Vancouver Millionaires 3-2 in a best of 5 series.

GHL's MVP - Alf Skinner

1918-19 - No Decision
- The PCHA champions Seattle Metropolitans met the NHL champions Montreal Canadiens in the 1919 Stanley Cup finals, but no winner would be decided. With the series tied 2-2-1, the series was cancelled due to the influenza epidemic that had swept North America. Montreal could no longer continue, with 5 players and manager George Kennedy admitted to hospital with the deadly flue. Five days later the great Bad Joe Hall, future Hockey Hall of Famer, died. Montreal offered to forfeit the series, but Seattle opted not to claim victory under such dark circumstances.

GHL's MVP - Hap Holmes

1919-20 - Ottawa Seantors - Seattle would return to the Stanley Cup finals in 1920, but they could not defeat the NHL champion Ottawa Senators. The series was actually completed in Toronto, as warm weather turned Ottawa's outdoor ice to slush, and Toronto had the only indoor rink in all of Eastern Canada.

GHL's MVP - Jack Darragh

1920-21 - Ottawa Senators - The Ottawa Senators knocked off the Toronto St. Pats to capture the NHL championship and the right to defend their Stanley Cup title. The Vancouver Millionaires represented the west. The tight series was played at Vancouver's Denman Arena, but the Senators pulled out the win thanks to Jack Darragh's tying and winning goals in the final game.

GHL's MVP - Jack Darragh

1921-22 - Toronto St. Pats
- The Vancouver Millionaires repeated as PCHA champs and travelled East to compete in the Stanley Cup finals. But they would not get a chance to meet Ottawa again, as the Sens lost 5-4 in a tough, 2-game, total goals series to the Toronto St. Pats. After a tightly played first three games, Toronto's offense blew away the westerners to win the Stanley Cup in 5 games.

GHL's MVP - Babe Dye

1922-23 - Ottawa Senators
- The Ottawa Senators returned to the Stanley Cup finals after beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the 2 game, total goals playoff. Out west the PCHA broke apart, and a second western power, the Western Canadian Hockey League was added to the Stanley Cup mix. Ottawa had to travel out west to Vancouver where they defeated the renamed Maroons 3 games to 1 for the right to play the WCHL Edmonton Eskimos for the Stanley Cup. The Sens edged the Esks in a tight two game series to win the Stanley Cup.

GHL's MVP - Punch Broadbent

1923-24 - Montreal Canadiens
- After winning the NHL title, Montreal hosted the Vancouver Maroons, winning 2 games in the best of 3 final. Montreal then hosted the WCHL Calgary Tigers in the Stanley Cup final, although the final game was played in Ottawa due to poor ice conditions in Montreal. Montreal face little competition from the Calgarians, winning two games in relative ease. After winning, the players took the Cup to manager Leo Dandurand's home for a party. They had to fix a flat tire on the way, only to find out that they had left the Stanley Cup sitting on the curb when they had arrived at Dandurand's house!

GHL's MVP - Georges Vezina

1924-25 - Victoria Cougars
- 1925 saw the last non-NHL team win the Stanley Cup. The Victoria Cougars (who would become the Detroit Red Wings a couple of years later) defeated the Saskatoon Crescents and Calgary Tigers to earn the right to play the NHL champs Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals. With games played in Victoria, the Cougars used home ice advantage to knock off the Habs 3 games to 1. Montreal was a bit lucky to be in the finals, given that the NHL's best team, the Hamilton Tigers, went on strike to protest their salaries. Montreal replaced the Tigers.

GHL's MVP - Jack Walker

1925-26 - Montreal Maroons
- The Victoria Cougars returned to the Stanley Cup finals in 1926 in what would mark the last time a non-NHL team would compete for the Stanley Cup. But the Cougars were no match for the Montreal Maroons, Montreal's "English team." The Maroons won the series 3 games to 1, winning each game with a shutout. But it was rookie Nels Stewart who really stole the show. The star scoring center played the series on defense and still scored 6 goals in 4 games.

GHL's MVP - Nels Stewart


James Benesh said...


If your criteria is the full playoffs and not just the inter-league cup finals, the 1919 MVP has to be Newsy Lalonde, who singlehandedly destroyed a Nighborless Ottawa team.

Also, in 1914, Nighbor had just as many points as Taylor but was said to have played brilliantly defensively. He would get my vote.

Joe Pelletier said...

Actually listed Nighbor as MVP in 1914 originally.

I rushed these pre-1927 pieces admittedly. Will have to go back and improve things.

James Benesh said...

But still, great work. I'm just generating healthy discussion :)