Marquee Relay Theory: AHAC/CAHL 1898-99

The first Schism of Hockey saw the AHAC transition to the CAHL with the elite teams protecting their mutual rivalry by keeping their circuit exclusive. While this event took place in Ice Hockey for the first time it was common among all sports leagues, particularly professional and premier leagues. The desire and ability to create exclusivity and prestige allows them to maintain their position of prominence.

While sports leagues are about players, game results, and championships; the underlying dynamic is captured by some kind of Marquee team or Marquee rivalry. A Marquee team who commands awe and legend because of its feats becomes the flagship team that will boost any circuit’s profile. Alternatively, a Marquee rivalry is the stuff of legends (David vs Goliath, Sparta vs Athens, Rome vs Carthage, etc) and will enhance a league’s reputation.

This event became pronounced between 1898 and 1899 when we see the top teams of the AHAC leave to form a new circuit. This sets off a chain reaction that would eventually lead to the modern NHL via the Marquee Relay Theory. The Marquee Relay Theory posits that the four premier modern sports leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB) can be traced back to the earliest leagues that were formed in the 19th century.

Below I have outlined the teams that provided the Marquee impetus that lead to the formation of the CAHL.


1875 to 1882
Exhibition Play
The top three exhibition teams (Mtl. Victorias, Ottawa HC, Quebec HC) forms the MWC Hockey Tournament. Montreal HC joins a few years later.
1883 to 1886
Three of the top MWC teams (Mtl. Victorias, Montreal HC, McGill University) forms the AHAC. The MWC Hockey Tournament would cease after the 1889 season.
1887 to 1898
The five teams (Mtl. Victorias, Montreal HC, Ottawa HC, Quebec HC, Mtl. Shamrocks) of the Senior Division of the AHAC forms the CAHL, a new seperate league. They refuse to allow a team from the AHAC’s Intermediate Division to join them. The AHAC would cease after the 1898 season.
1899 to 1903



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