Friday, April 1, 2011

This Day in NHL History


On April 1, 1919, the Stanley Cup Playoffs were called off and made national headlines across the continent. This was because of an influenza outbreak after game five between the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champion, Seattle Metropolitans, and the NHL's Montreal Canadiens. The series was tied 2-2-1 after five games before city health officials were forced to cancel the deciding game due to the Spanish Flu epidemic sweeping North America. Most of the Canadiens players and their manager, George Kennedy, fell ill with the flu and were hospitalized or bedridden.

The hospitalized included Joe Hall, Louis Berlinquette, Jack McDonald and Blake Geoffrion's dirty great great grand uncle, Billy Coutu. The Habs manager tried to borrow PCHA players from Victoria, but PCHA president, Frank Patrick, denied the Canadiens request to fill their roster to play the decisive game. With little to no team to put on the ice, Kennedy said he was forfeiting the Cup to Seattle, but Pete Muldoon, the manager-coach of the Metropolitans refused to accept the Cup in forfeiture. Muldoon saw that it was a catastrophic illness that had caused the Habs lineup to be short of players, and refused to claim victory that way. Very honourable Mr. Muldoon.

For those that think cancelling the Stanley Cup playoffs over a flu outbreak was an overreaction - pneumonia would claim the life of Habs defenceman Joe Hall just five days after the deciding game was to take place. George Kennedy's health was also weakened greatly, and he would pass away only two years later. Here is a telegram sent by Frank Patrick on April 3 that discusses the health of the sick players - very cool, but eerie. So the next time a player on your team misses a few games with the flu, don't think he is softy who could have played through it, remember the flu can lead to some serious shit.

In short, no official Stanley Cup winner was declared in 1919 and no engraving added to Lord Stanley's mug. However when the cup was redesigned in 1948 with a new collar being added to include those teams that did no engrave their names on the trophy themselves, the following was added:

7 comments:

  1. I had no idea this happened.. cool!

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  2. I heard a rumour 2 years ago during their 100th anniversary that Montreal wanted to try and get this Stanley Cup added to their official total since they were the "NHL Champions"? Anyone else hear that?

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  3. That is pretty crazy. I am glad Canada has a better healthcare system now..lol

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  4. Good on Seattle for not taking the cup. That is crazy that one of the players died

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  5. I heard that rumour about MTL wanting the Cup to be considered theres... but i think it came from some sketchy Montreal newspaper

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  6. I hope this years cup final is cancelled,then the leafs season can't be called another failure because nobody won!

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  7. lol
    Leafs are on track to being better. One of the youngest teams in the league and just missed out on the playoffs this year.

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