Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Then There Were Six : The Golden Age of Hockey

Although the National Hockey League was formed in 1917, the Original Six Era didn't begin until 1942-43. The Golden Age of Hockey was kick started when the New York Americans left the NHL due to their lease expiring. Here is a quick glance at the "birth" of the founding members.

Montreal Canadiens:
The Montreal Canadiens were formed in 1910 as part of the National Hockey Association. They were one of  five clubs which played in year one of the NHL (1917-18).

Toronto Maple Leafs:
The Toronto Maple Leafs were the fifth and final bid to be accepted into the freshly minted NHL. The Toronto franchise was first known as the Toronto Arenas. A subsequent name change took place in 1919-20 with the St. Patricks taking the ice. The name was adapted in hope of gathering support from the large Irish community. In 1926-27 Conn Smythe purchased the club and immediately renamed his new acquisition the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Crest of the Toronto Arenas and Toronto St. Pats
                                       
Boston Bruins:
 It is often the answer to this trivia question "Who was granted the first American franchise in the NHL?" This honour belongs to the Boston Bruins. The league brass first met to discuss international expansion in February 1924. Applications from New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were rejected, with Boston emerging as the winner. Their inaugural season was 1924-25 with Art Ross at the helm.

New York Rangers:
Armed with a new NHL club for the 1926-27 season, Colonel John Hammond hired Conn Smythe to pull everything together. All Smythe did was to assemble a team with names like Lorne Chabot, Ching Johnson, Bill Cook, Bun Cook, Murrary Murdoch and Frank Boucher.. One would think that making such moves would add to Smythe's job security. Wrong! Before the season started, he was replaced as GM-Coach by Lester Patrick. Hammond, as a result of outside influences, feared Smythe didn't have enough experience. The Rangers would go on to win the Stanley Cup in 1927-28.

Chicago Black Hawks:
Go west young man! In 1926 Chicago joined the NHL to begin play in 1926-27. The team played in the American Division. In the playoffs they lost out in the semi-finals to the Boston Bruins. There first coach was Pete Muldoon, who became famous for planting a curse on the club prior to departing. Later, the spelling of their name would be changed to "Blackhawks".

Detroit Red Wings:
In step with Chicago and New York, the Detroit Cougars started play in the 1926-27 season. Their coach was former player Art Duncan. Like the Maple Leafs, several name changes were to follow - 1931-32 (Falcons), 1932-33 (Red Wings). One of the most important moves made early in the life of the club was hiring Jack Adams as GM-Coach for the 1927-28 season.



Crest of the Detroit Cougars and Detroit Falcons








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