With the new FHM 2 going back further this year that the previous incarnation. I figured why not start from there. The season starts in 1931-32 but the NHL actually began in 1917-18.
The National Hockey League took off where the National Hockey Association left off. Four teams played in this inaugural season of the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Hockey Club, Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Wanderers all took part in this season. Montreal Canadiens won the first half of the season while the Toronto Hockey Club won the 2nd half which meant that they played a 2 game series with Montreal to see who would play for the Stanley Cup. Toronto beat Montreal by a total goal score of 10-7 which meant they moved on to the finals against the Vancouver Millionaires. Toronto beat them in a 5 game series making them the 1st ever Stanley Cup champions of the NHL. Montreal Wanderers had to suspend play as their arena burned down thus leaving the league with 3 teams.
The second season of the NHL was not as great as the 1st one as the NHA was trying to start up again. After a long drawing out process the NHL would continue operations with 3 teams, the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Toronto Hockey Club. However, Toronto had to suspend operations leaving the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators to have a playoff to see who would face off against the Seattle Metropolitans. Montreal ended up winning but the Stanley Cup was not awarded to either team as both teams had to suspend play due to the Spanish Influenza. Interesting thing about this season was that the NHA tried to start up again and had multiple attempts at suing and trying to buy a couple of rinks of NHL teams in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.
The NHL grew in its third season as Quebec was allowed back into the league and Toronto rejoined after suspending operations the previous season. Now the league was back up to 4 teams, the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators were joined by the Toronto St.Patricks and the Quebec Athletics. Despite the two new teams, Ottawa came out on top winning both the 1st part of the season and the 2nd part of the season. Since they did this meant they moved directly into the Stanley Cup finals. They beat the Seattle Metropolitans in 5 games and won their 1st Stanley Cup.
The NHL was still a 4 team league however it lost one of its previous participants as the Quebec Athletics who did poorly the previous season would move to Hamilton to become the Tigers. That didn't change the fate as they finished last in the league just as they did in Quebec. Ottawa won the 1st half of the season with Toronto winning the 2nd part which meant they faced off in a 2 game total goal series. Ottawa shut out Toronto meaning they moved onto the Stanley Cup Final where they would defeat the Vancouver Millionaires in a 5 game series to become the first back to back Champions of the NHL.
This was the 1st time in NHL history that the NHL wouldn't use the spilt season format. Whoever finished 1st would play whoever finished 2nd and the winner would move onto the Stanley Cup Final against the winner of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) and Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA).
Ottawa finished 1st with Toronto finishing 2nd, Montreal came 3rd and Hamilton was still the basement dweller. In the WCHL, Calgary would lose to the Regina Capitals and they moved on to play the Edmonton Eskimos. Regina would beat them and they would await the winner out of the Vancouver and Seattle. Vancouver beat Seattle then beat Regina and would await the winner of Ottawa and Toronto. Confusing isn't it? Well Toronto would beat the 1st placed Ottawa team and would play Vancouver. Toronto would end up going behind 2-1 but would win the last 2 games to win the Stanley Cup, tying the Senators for most in the NHL.
For the 4th time in a row, the same 4 teams returned for business in the NHL. Ottawa has turned into the mini-dynasty as they finished 1st again. Montreal was tired of the the odd man out and decided to finish 2nd for the 1st time in 3 seasons. Toronto finished 3rd with Hamilton finished last again. Ottawa would defeat the Canadiens to move onto the 3 team Stanley Cup Playoff. Ottawa would beat Vancouver 3 games to 1 then beat Edmonton 2 games to none for the Stanley Cup. Ottawa wins it's 3rd cup in 4 years.
This season was the introduction on arguably the NHL's 1st superstar. Howie Morenz would make his NHL debut. The NHL also introduced the Hart Trophy which was given to the NHL's Most Valuable Player. Ottawa continued to dominate and finished 1st again with Montreal finished 2nd. Toronto finished 3rd with Hamilton finishing last again, However it was by only 2 points, the closest they came to 3rd place at the end of a season.
Montreal would upset the Senators by winning both games and would face off against the newly re-branded Vancouver Maroons in the semis. They would sweep both games and go to the finals to play the Calgary Tigers in whom they swept to win their 1st Stanley Cup in NHL history.
For the 1st time in NHL history the league grew to 6 teams. Montreal was awarded a 2nd team which was named the Montreal Maroons while the United States received its 1st team as the NHL came calling to Massachusetts to give Boston a franchise later named the Bruins.
The PCHA folded so the Vancouver Maroons and Victoria Cougars played in the WCHL, leaving just 2 leagues vying for the Stanley Cup. Lady Byng donated a trophy to the NHL which she gave to the player who displayed the most sportsmanship and gentlemanly play.
You will never guess who finished 1st for the 1st time. The Hamilton Tigers finally finished 1st after years of last place finishes. Toronto would finish 2nd with the Montreal Canadiens finishing 3rd. Ottawa didn't make the playoffs for the first time in about 4 or 5 seasons, they finished 4th. Montreal Maroons and Boston finished 5th and 6th respectively.
Despite the 1st place finish, Hamilton didn't play for the Cup because their players demanded more money as their contracts only paid them for the regular season. Little did they know, President Frank Calder wasn't having any of it a suspended them and Toronto and Montreal would play for the right to face the Victoria Cougars in the Stanley Cup Final.
Montreal would beat the St.Patricks and move on. In the final they played the Victoria Cougars. They would fall to Victoria 3 games to 1, this would mark the last time a team not in the NHL won the Cup.
The NHL would change even more in 1925-1926 as the Hamilton Tigers were dropped, but two new teams were added. New York was given a team which was called the Americans while the state of Pennsylvania was awarded a team that would play in Pittsburgh, later named the Pirates.
Since we had a team in New York, this meant Madison Square Garden, arguably the most famous arena in the world was now hosting NHL games. Montreal Canadiens would defeat the New York Americans, 3-1 to claim MSG theirs for the night.
After a season out of the playoffs, Ottawa would reclaim their spot at number 1 in the standings. The fairly new Montreal Maroons would take 2nd. Pittsburgh would finish 3rd in their 1st season and qualify for the playoffs. Boston would improve to 4th followed by New York, Toronto and Montreal Canadiens.
This was the 1st time an "Original Six" team did not make the playoffs, however at the time they didn't know this. Montreal would beat the Pirates by a total game score of 6-4 before moving on to beat the Senators by a total game score of 2-1. They would move on to their 1st Stanley Cup Final. Victoria was standing in their way of history though. Montreal would beat them 3 games to 1 and Montreal Maroons won their 1st Stanley Cup.
The league kept growing, since the expansion to the United States proved successful three new teams were added to the league. New York was given a 2nd franchise called the Rangers, the states of Michigan and Illinois were given team to their biggest cities as Detroit and Chicago were added, both later called the Cougars and Blackhawks respectively.
The new WHL folded and their players were sold and divided up to the NHL teams. Thus leaving the NHL as the only league going for the Stanley Cup.
The league was now spilt into two divisions of five, the Canadian and American Divisions. The New York Americans played in the Canadian Division to keep them even.
Ottawa finished 1st, followed by Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Maroons, New York Americans and the Toronto St.Patricks. New York Rangers finished 1st in their 1st season, followed by Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
The playoffs format has also changed, with 2nd and 3rd place teams in both divisions playing each other. The winner of that would play the 1st place team then going onto the final. So it was the battle of Montreal in the Canadian Division while Chicago and Boston would play in the American Division. Montreal Canadiens would prevail by a game score total of 2-1 while Boston would win 10-5. This set up semi finals of Ottawa vs Montreal and Boston vs New York. Ottawa would beat the Canadiens by a total game score of 5-1 with Boston beating New York, 3-1. This meant that an American team would move onto the Stanley Cup Final for the 1st time in NHL History. Ottawa would claim their 4th NHL Stanley Cup which was double 2nd place (Toronto).
A new trophy was added to the league, the Vezina Trophy was added and awarded to the best goaltender.
Another change was made for this NHL season, it was just a name change though as the Toronto St.Patricks became the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Montreal would finish 1st in the Canadian Division followed by the Montreal Maroons, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and finally the New York Americans. The Boston Bruins finished 1st in the American Division followed by the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Cougars and the Chicago Blackhawks.
The playoffs would have Montreal Maroons facing off against the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers playing the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round. Montreal beat Ottawa by a total game score of 3 goals to 1 and New York beat Pittsburgh by a total game score of 6 goals to 4. This set up the Montreal derby in the semis and New York vs Boston for the 2nd year in a row. The Maroons won the derby by a total game score of 3 goals to 2 and New York won by a total game score of 5 goals to 2. This set up a Montreal Maroons and the New York Rangers. The Rangers would become the 1st American Stanley Cup Champion of the NHL and the 1st American team to win it since Seattle won.
The NHL reformed the playoffs to something stupid. The 1st place teams faced off in the semis so that semi was set already. Then the 2nd placed teams played each other in one quarter finals and the 3rd place teams played in the other. Dumb right?
Montreal Canadiens came 1st in the Canadian Division followed by the New York Americans, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and finally the Montreal Maroons. Boston finished 1st again in the American Division followed by the New York Rangers, Detroit Cougars, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Since the new playoff format came into play, the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins formed one semi-final. The New York derby took place in one quarter-final and Toronto would play Detroit in the other quarter-final. The Rangers blanked the Americans by a total game score of 1 goal to 0. Toronto made a mockery out of Detroit by winning a total game score of 7-2. The semis were set. Montreal vs Boston and Toronto vs New York. Arguably the NHL's biggest markets. Now this is were the series get more different. Now the rest of the playoffs would be a best of 3 series. Boston would sweep the Canadiens 2 games to nothing while New York would sweep the Maple Leafs 2 games to nothing as well. This set up the 1st all American final in NHL history with New York play Boston. Boston would sweep the Rangers 2 games to nothing to claim their 1st ever Stanley Cup.
The Maroons would win the Canadian Division with the Montreal Canadiens finishing 2nd, followed by the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Americans. Boston would finish 1st, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Detroit Cougars and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This set up quarter-final dates between the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers and between the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks. Montreal beat Chicago 3 goals to 2 and New York beat Ottawa 6 goals to 3. Now the semis consisted of Montreal Maroons vs Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens vs New York Rangers. All Montreal final? No it wasn't meant to be as the Bruins won 2 games to 1 while Montreal beat New York 2 games to 0. This set up a series between arguably the two biggest rivals in NHL history. Montreal would win 2 games to none and claim their 2nd Stanley Cup in NHL history and 1st since 1923-1924.
Here we have some franchise news, the Pittsburgh Pirates moved to the west side of Pennsylvania to become the Philadelphia Quakers. The Detroit Cougars became the Detroit Falcons. The Stanley Cup final also came under new rules as it was a best of 5 now not a best of 3 after Bruins owner/GM/Coach Art Ross complained about losing 2-0 in the last final.
Montreal Canadiens finished 1st in the Canadian Division followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Maroons, New York Americans and Ottawa Senators. Boston continued to grow into a dynasty as they were 1st in the American Division followed by the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Detroit Falcons and the Philadelphia Quakers.
This set Quarter-final match-ups of Toronto vs Chicago and New York vs Montreal Maroons. Chicago won 4 goals to 3 while New York dismantled Montreal 8 goals to 1. The semi-final was Montreal vs Boston and Chicago vs New York. Montreal beat Boston 2 games to 0 and Chicago beat New York 2 games to 0. This was Chicago's 1st finals appearance to date. Montreal won 3 games to 2.
Stanley Cup Champions
Ottawa Senators - 4 (1919-1920, 1920-1921, 1922-1923, 1926-1927)
Montreal Canadiens - 3 (1923-24, 1929-1930, 1930-1931)
Toronto St.Patricks - 2 (1917-1918, 1921-1922)
Montreal Maroons - 1 (1925-1926)
New York Rangers - 1 (1927-1928)
Boston Bruins - 1 (1928-1929)
Now this is were i step into NHL History, more to come in the next post