July 15, 2014

1926-27: The Original Six Are Set

The Three Stars:

Detroit, Chicago, New York Rangers Join NHL - The NHL loses it's west coast competition when Frank Patrick sells off the contracts of players to the NHL for $258,000. Two teams are essentially absorbed. The Victoria Cougars become the Detroit Cougars, later to be renamed Falcons and then Red Wings. The Portland Rosebuds become the Chicago Black Hawks, later renamed Blackhawks. The Rangers debut with much fanfare in New York, as the Bread Line of Frank Boucher with Bill Cook and Bun Cook dazzle audiences. Bill Cook wins the NHL scoring championship.

Toronto Turns Over New Leaf - Conn Smythe puts together a group of investors to buy the Toronto St. Patricks, perhaps saving the franchise's relocation to Philadelphia. Smythe's group buys the team for $160,000 and renames the team the Maple Leafs. The teams green and white colors are ditched for blue and white.

Green Barely Survives Nasty Hit - The NHL comes close to its first on-ice fatality when New York Americans star Shorty Green sustains a kidney injury on February 27th, 1927. Green absorbed a clean open ice hit from the much larger 225lb New York Rangers defenseman Taffy Abel. Green underwent surgery on March 3rd to remove the damaged kidney. At one point he was administered last rites. Green does recover, but never plays hockey again.

Season Highlights:
  • The New York Rangers had hired Conn Smythe to build their team but he was fired just before the start of the season thanks to a management dispute. Lester Patrick takes over control in New York.
  • Herb Gardiner becomes the second (and one of three all time) first year player to win the Hart Trophy as most valuable player. Nels Stewart also turned the trick. Several decades later Wayne Gretzky also joined this rare club. Gardiner, however, was a 35 year old veteran of the western leagues. A railway surveyor in the offseason, Gardiner scored just 6 goals and 12 points this season.
  • The Detroit Cougars played all of their 22 home games in Canada that first season. Due to lack of proper facilities in Detroit, the Cougars play across the border in near by Windsor at the Border Cities Arena.
  • Hal Winkler becomes the first NHL goalie to get a shutout in his first NHL game.
  • The demise of the western major leagues gives the NHL full control of the Stanley Cup.
  • The Ottawa Senators win the Stanley Cup, their last in franchise history. Goalie Alex Connell, dubbed the Ottawa Fireman, is a brick wall in net, recording 30 wins, 13 shutouts and a 1.57 GAA.
  • George Hainsworth is very first recipient of the Vezina Trophy, given to the top goalie in the NHL in memoriam of the late Georges Vezina.

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