Month: February 2017

Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, 1887-1892 Summary

The Amateur Hockey Association played five of its first six seasons in a challenger format, a championship process we see in boxing where the winning party continues to hold the championship title until defeated. The AHAC did play its second season in 1888 in a balanced, round-robin format but switched back to challenge play from 1889 until 1892.

The first six seasons of 1887 to 1892 are summarized below as a single entity because so much changed in 1893:

  1. The AHAC would become the official premier hockey league when its champion was gifted the first ever Dominion Challenge Cup.
  2. The AHAC switched to an ongoing round-robin format for each subsequent season, a tradition that has been followed ever since.
  3. The membership of the AHAC would become set with five premier clubs: Montreal Hockey Club, Montreal Victorias, Montreal Crystals/Shamrocks, Quebec Hockey Club, and Ottawa Hockey Club.

 

Team TGP TW TL TT TGF TGA SW/SP
Montreal Hockey Club 30 24 6 0 103 54 5/6
Montreal Crystals* 18 5 13 0 39 57 1/5
Montreal Victorias 19 11 8 0 58 36 0/5
Ottawa Hockey Club 9 6 3 0 32 21 0/3
Quebec Hockey Club 5 0 5 0 6 14 0/4
McGill University 8 0 8 0 5 49 0/2
Montreal Shamrocks 3 0 3 0 5 17 0/2

* Includes three seasons as the Crystals,  one season played as the Dominions, and one season as the Crescents.

SW/SP = Seasons Won / Seasons Played

Rugby-Football and its impact on Hockey

As I was reviewing and posting some of the statistics I was perplexed why a team called Montreal Football Club would show up in some of the results. This team shows up in hockey’s early exhibition games and it also shows up once at the 1885 Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament.

So why would a club of football players play hockey?

To compete and to stay in shape! In fact the first ever ice hockey game that was played indoors in 1875 was organized by a rugby (football) player…

“An enterprising young engineer named James Creighton changed all that. Anxious that he and his rugby-playing friends had something to keep them in shape during winter, he started by bringing hockey in from the cold.” Montreal Gazette

Back in the 19th century sports was practiced differently than now. Athletic groups like the marquee Montreal Amateur Athletic Association fielded multiple clubs to participate in diverse sports like lacrosse, football, skating, and more. It was the MAAA that created the hockey and football powerhouses that dominated their respective sports.

The MAAA in the late 1800s was the premier grouping of ‘sportsmen’ who excelled at almost everything they played. The MAAA was known informally as the ‘Winged Wheelers’, the name being inspired by its bicycle club. It was only later in the first decade of the 1900s we see increased specialization in sports, especially with the rise of professionalism. Given the MAAA’s amateur purpose it would eventually wither under the pressure of such specialization and become irrelevant in elite hockey.

Quest for the Grail – Hockey and its Championship Cups

In 1893 we see the establishment of Ice Hockey’s premier sporting trophy; the Stanley Cup! While it is now considered the premier trophy for hockey, Lord Stanley’s mug was not the first trophy awarded. The first hockey trophy and cup was awarded for winning the Montreal Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament, appropriately called the Carnival Cup.

 

Carnival Cup (MWC 1883)

 

When the AHAC was formed, it needed its own championship trophy and adopted a very ice hockey symbolized design with crossed hockey sticks crowning it. It differed from the Carnival Cup by not being a cup and was appropriately called the Senior Championship Trophy.

 

Senior Championship Trophy (AHAC 1887)

 

Since the Senior Championship Trophy was property of the AHAC, a new trophy was needed to symbolize hockey supremacy across a growing sport and growing nation. The Stanley Cup was originally named the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.

 

Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup a.k.a the Stanley Cup (inter-league champion 1893)

 

When the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup was donated and competed for, there was officially and unofficially only amateur teams playing for it. As industrialization and wealth spread across North America, the desire to pay to see high level hockey took root and by 1909 we had an official split of professional and amateur hockey championships. The amateur teams formed their own league to play for the Allan Cup in 1909. The professional teams then challenged each other for the Stanley Cup. By 1926 the National Hockey League became the sole professional hockey league and the Stanley Cup became the league’s championship trophy. Today, the Stanley Cup is 124 years old and is considered to be one of sport’s top trophies. Hockey further cemented its love for Cups by having its top minor league compete for the Calder Cup in 1936.

I speculate that ice hockey adopted the championship cup from Britain’s sports traditions. Canada was a British colony and adopted many of its social traditions including having a cup become its championship trophy. The British cup tradition is best enshrined in its football (soccer) league competing for the FA Cup every year since 1871.

It is not lost on me the shared symbolism of sporting campaigns leading to championship cups and heroic tales of knights questing for a chalice. The Stanley CupDavis Cup, America’s Cup and numerous World Cups are all now famous cup-shaped/themed trophies given to sport’s winners.

 

Our modern society keeps alive the symbolism of a Holy Grail (a carry-over from Arthurian literature) rewarding the finder happiness, eternal youth, or food in infinite abundance. Such an accomplishment becomes retold year after year, again not unlike children’s tales that are ritually retold.

Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, 1893

In 1893, the teams that formerly made up the main circuit for the Montreal Winter Carnival played a season-long stand-alone hockey league that was a successor to the popular winter festival. In fact, the MWC Hockey Tournament was cancelled as the teams decided to focus on their own league play. The Montreal Hockey Club, Montreal Crystals, Montreal Shamrocks, Montreal Victorias, Quebec Hockey Club, and the Ottawa Hockey Club participated in a balanced, round-robin format which was going to be an ongoing practice.

The seventh season played in 1893 (played from January 8 to March 7) saw The Montreal Hockey Club win the Championship. 1893 was the first year that the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup was awarded. The Montreal Hockey Club also was awarded the Cup by virtue of its first place finish with the AHAC.

Championships to 1893 Season for Amateur Hockey Association of Canada
Team # of Championships Premier Championship Points
Montreal Hockey Club 8 (1885-86, 88-93) 26 (+4)
Montreal Crystals 1 (1887) 4
Montreal Victorias 1 (1884) 4
McGill University 1 (1883) 2

The AHAC was the first ever organized Ice Hockey league formed by four Montreal-based teams plus Ottawa. These five teams all played in the MWC Tournament so that tournament is considered to be the direct predecessor to the AHAC for historical and statistical purposes. From this humble beginning ice hockey and its leagues established their beginning.

Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, 1893

Edited from Wikipedia entry:

Lord Stanley of Preston as Governor General of Canada became highly enthusiastic about ice hockey. Stanley was first exposed to the game at Montreal’s 1889 Winter Carnival, where he saw the Montreal Victorias play the Montreal Hockey Club.

Stanley’s entire family became active in ice hockey. Two of his sons, Arthur and Algernon, formed a new team called the Ottawa Rideau Hall Rebels. Arthur also played a key role in the formation of what later became known as the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), and would go on to be the founder of ice hockey in Great Britain.

Arthur and Algernon persuaded their father to donate a trophy to be “an outward and visible sign of the hockey championship”. Stanley sent the following message to the victory celebration for the three-time OHA champion Ottawa Hockey Club:

“I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion [of Canada].

There does not appear to be any such outward sign of a championship at present, and considering the general interest which matches now elicit, and the importance of having the game played fairly and under rules generally recognized, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held from year to year by the winning team.

I am not quite certain that the present regulations governing the arrangement of matches give entire satisfaction, and it would be worth considering whether they could not be arranged so that each team would play once at home and once at the place where their opponents hail from.”

As champions of the AHAC in 1893, the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup (known today as the Stanley Cup) was to awarded to Montreal as its inaugural champion.

Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup Champion Days to December 31, 1893
Team Start End Challengers # of days total days
Montreal Hockey Club (AHAC) March 17, 1893 December 31, 1893 AHAC win 290 290

There are actually three Stanley Cups in existence:
1) Stanley’s original Cup from 1892, known as the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup” was awarded until 1970, and is now on display in the Vault Room at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
2) In 1963, NHL president Clarence Campbell believed that the original Cup had become too brittle to give to championship teams, so the “Presentation Cup” was created and is the well-known trophy awarded today.
3) The final Cup is a “Replica Presentation Cup”, which was created in 1993 by Montreal silversmith Louise St. Jacques and is used as a stand-in at the Hall of Fame when the Presentation Cup isn’t available.

Unlike other major league sports trophies, a new Cup isn’t made every year. Instead, after each championship, the names of the players, coaches, management, and staff of the winning team are added to the Cup. The first team to have its roster engraved was the 1906-07 Montreal Wanderers, whose names were etched within the inner bowl of the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. The only other team names engraved on the inner bowl are the 1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires.

Amateur Hockey Association of Canada, 1894

In 1894, the teams that formerly made up the main circuit for the Montreal Winter Carnival played a season-long stand-alone hockey league that was a successor to the popular winter festival. In fact, the MWC Hockey Tournament was cancelled as the teams decided to focus on their own league play. The Montreal Hockey Club, Montreal Crescents, Montreal Shamrocks, Montreal Victorias, Quebec Hockey Club, and the Ottawa Hockey Club participated in a balanced, round-robin format which was going to be an ongoing practice.

The eighth season played in 1894 (played from January 5 to March 10) saw a four-way tie to determine the league champion and who would win the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. 1894 was the second year that the Dominion Challenge Cup was awarded. Because of the four-way tie in the standings, the first ever playoff needed to be arranged.

At the end of the 1894 AHAC season, four teams tied for the AHA championship with records of 5–3–0. This created problems for the AHA governors and the Cup’s trustees since there was no tie-breaking system in place. Quebec decided to not participate in the playoff. The Montreal Hockey Club faced off against the other local Victorias team, with Ottawa getting a bye into the cup final since they were operating as a road team. The results were:

March 17, 1894 – Montreal Hockey Club 3-2 over Montreal Victorias
March 22, 1894 – Montreal Hockey Club 3-2 over Ottawa Hockey Club

The Montreal Hockey Club won the League Championship and Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.

Championships to 1894 Season for Amateur Hockey Association of Canada
Team # of Championships Premier Championship Points
Montreal Hockey Club 9 (1885-86, 88-94) 30 (+4)
Montreal Crystals 1 (1887) 4
Montreal Victorias 1 (1884) 4
McGill University 1 (1883) 2

The AHAC was the first ever organized Ice Hockey league formed by four Montreal-based teams plus Ottawa. These five teams all played in the MWC Tournament so that tournament is considered to be the direct predecessor to the AHAC for historical and statistical purposes. From this humble beginning ice hockey and its leagues established their beginning.

Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, 1894

Edited from Wikipedia entry:

Lord Stanley of Preston as Governor General of Canada became highly enthusiastic about ice hockey. Stanley was first exposed to the game at Montreal’s 1889 Winter Carnival, where he saw the Montreal Victorias play the Montreal Hockey Club.

Stanley’s entire family became active in ice hockey. Two of his sons, Arthur and Algernon, formed a new team called the Ottawa Rideau Hall Rebels. Arthur also played a key role in the formation of what later became known as the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), and would go on to be the founder of ice hockey in Great Britain.

Arthur and Algernon persuaded their father to donate a trophy to be “an outward and visible sign of the hockey championship”. Stanley sent the following message to the victory celebration for the three-time OHA champion Ottawa Hockey Club:

“I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup which should be held from year to year by the champion hockey team in the Dominion [of Canada].

There does not appear to be any such outward sign of a championship at present, and considering the general interest which matches now elicit, and the importance of having the game played fairly and under rules generally recognized, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held from year to year by the winning team.

I am not quite certain that the present regulations governing the arrangement of matches give entire satisfaction, and it would be worth considering whether they could not be arranged so that each team would play once at home and once at the place where their opponents hail from.”

As playoff champions of the AHAC in 1894, the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup (known today as the Stanley Cup) was to awarded to Montreal as its inaugural champion. 1894 was the first year a playoff was required because four teams were tied in the AHAC standings.

At the end of the 1894 AHAC season, four teams tied for the AHA championship with records of 5–3–0. This created problems for the AHA governors and the Cup’s trustees since there was no tie-breaking system in place. The trustees ruled that a playoff series would need to be played. Quebec decided to not participate in the playoff while the remaining three teams faced off in two elimination games.

March 17, 1894 Montreal Hockey Club 3-2 over Montreal Victorias
March 22, 1894 Montreal Hockey Club 3-2 over Ottawa Hockey Club

The Montreal Hockey Club won the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.

Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup Champion Days to December 31, 1894
Team Start End Challengers # of days total days
Montreal Hockey Club (AHAC) January 1, 1894 December 31, 1894 AHAC playoff wins x 2         365         655

There are actually three Stanley Cups in existence:
1) Stanley’s original Cup from 1892, known as the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup” was awarded until 1970, and is now on display in the Vault Room at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
2) In 1963, NHL president Clarence Campbell believed that the original Cup had become too brittle to give to championship teams, so the “Presentation Cup” was created and is the well-known trophy awarded today.
3) The final Cup is a “Replica Presentation Cup”, which was created in 1993 by Montreal silversmith Louise St. Jacques and is used as a stand-in at the Hall of Fame when the Presentation Cup isn’t available.

Unlike other major league sports trophies, a new Cup isn’t made every year. Instead, after each championship, the names of the players, coaches, management, and staff of the winning team are added to the Cup. The first team to have its roster engraved was the 1906-07 Montreal Wanderers, whose names were etched within the inner bowl of the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. The only other team names engraved on the inner bowl are the 1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires.