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Lords of the Rinks

Lords of the Rinks: The Emergence of the National Hockey League, 1875-1936

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 330
  • Book Info
    Lords of the Rinks
    Book Description:

    The Lords of the Rinksis the only truly comprehensive and scholarly history of the league and the business of hockey.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5749-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    On March 23, 1894, theToronto Daily Mailreported on the first Stanley Cup championship match at the Victoria rink in Montreal the previous night. According to the reporter, there ‘was never before in the history of the game ... such a crowd present at a match or so much enthusiasm evinced. There were fully 5,000 persons at the match, and tin horns, strong lungs, and a general rabble predominated.’ The report went on to describe the match as ‘a hard struggle’ and ‘a great contest’ in which Montreal defeated Ottawa by a score of three to one.¹ For many...

  5. Chapter 2 From Fraternal Hockey Clubs to Closed Corporation
    (pp. 12-27)

    Richard Gruneau and David Whitson have argued that “the needs of and interests of specific groups” played an important role in driving the institutionalization of sport.¹ Such was the case in the early history of hockey. Organized in upper-class institutions in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, hockey first developed in amateur sport clubs with their culture of fraternal fellowship and gentlemanly sportsmanship. As they did in other club sports, upper-class and, later, upper-middle-class young men formed hockey clubs to compete against and socialize with one another. To facilitate inter-club competition, they organized hockey clubs into associations that sought...

  6. Chapter 3 The Hockey Front in the Athletic War
    (pp. 28-45)

    Even before the turn of the twentieth century, economic interests and the emphasis on victory took on increasing significance in Canadian hockey circles and drove the Montreal-based CAHL to reorganize the way it conducted its business. The CAHL had established an organizational foundation that separated itself from those whom it deemed unworthy. Under this hierarchical division, the CAHL and its later derivatives attempted to corner the market of highly skilled hockey players during the first decade in the new century. In maintaining this leadership position in the developing commercialized hockey network, senior amateur hockey in Montreal contributed to a larger...

  7. Chapter 4 Leagues of Their Own
    (pp. 46-57)

    Uncertainty and anxiety about the direction of commercialized amateur hockey at the end of first decade of the twentieth century prompted a reorganization of the hockey network. As the Athletic War was coming to an end, commercialized hockey was split into two camps, amateur and professional. Each group sought ‘partners ... perceived as most legitimate and ... reliable, either because they are constrained from staging a coup or because they share the orientations and goals of the organizers.’¹ Advocates of open professionalism formed their own leagues. In the Montreal senior circuit, many clubs took their best players down the professional...

  8. Chapter 5 In Search of Hockey Order
    (pp. 58-70)

    In the early twentieth century, professional hockey went through the beginning stages of a new industry where a number of firms competed in the marketplace and the barrier to entry in that marketplace was relatively low. New firms appeared and, just as quickly, disappeared. The National Hockey Association (NHA) was by no means the only professional league that claimed major-league status. Others, such as the Ontario Professional Hockey League (OPHL), the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA), and the Maritime Professional Hockey League (MPHL), were also operating at the time. While they did not intrude into each other’s consumer market, the...

  9. Chapter 6 An Inglorious End and an Inauspicious Beginning
    (pp. 71-81)

    Professional hockey went through a reorganization in 1917 that had its origin in the expansion of the NHA beyond the Montreal region earlier in the decade. The NHA had decided to grant franchises in Toronto, the second largest city in Canada, in the 1911–12 season. Toronto was a logical choice for expansion. Besides its large population base, Toronto had been an important amateur hockey centre since the formation of the OHA in 1890. Yet the NHA’s expansion to Toronto carried an ironic twist. While the PCHA was an established rival to the NHA, it was the desire of the...

  10. Chapter 7 Going South, Part 1
    (pp. 82-91)

    The years between 1923 and 1927 were crucial for the development of the NHL as a professional sports organization because they were the formative years in the expansion of the NHL’s sphere of influence. Beginning around 1923, the NHL experienced a period of rapid growth, increasing its number of franchises from four to ten. Within three short years, the NHL had become an international business that included Canadian and American franchises in the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions. The initiative to expand, however, did not come from the NHL. Rather,middle-class entrepreneurs who had been denied access to the NHL...

  11. Chapter 8 Going South, Part 2
    (pp. 92-106)

    As an unplanned business project, the NHL expansion in the middle third of the 1920s was a bonanza beyond the league officials’ wildest dreams. While they did not initiate the project, league directors were quick to seize the opportunity once they realized the potential benefits of expansion. Since the league directors had not developed a business plan for the expansion, they never fully considered the consequences associated with an expanded league.

    One consequence was the positioning of the NHL as the exclusive governing body in major-league professional hockey. As the NHL expanded southward and westward, it unexpectedly triggered the demise...

  12. Chapter 9 Birth of the Minor-League System
    (pp. 107-120)

    During the middle third of the twenties, the NHL had taken a major step towards becoming a powerful sports organization. Besides gaining increased economic power through its expansion into the United States, the NHL had also extended the control of professional hockey via the creation of a minor-league system. In the spring of 1926, applications for NHL franchises from American cities poured in, even as the league increased the franchise fees from $15,000 to $50,000.¹ Entrepreneurs who could not afford the increased operating costs in the NHL formed minor leagues that catered mainly to markets ignored by the NHL. Fearing...

  13. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  14. Chapter 10 Decline of the Ottawa Empire
    (pp. 121-132)

    Thanks to its agreements with the minor leagues, its expansion into American markets, and the demise of the WHL, the NHL stood alone at the top of the professional hockey world by the late 1920s. On February 13, 1928 the NHL governors met at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto. President Calder reported that the gross earnings of all clubs for the season to date were $1,314,584, an increase of more than $109,000 over the previous year. Yet even with this financial windfall, there were signs of troubles with some NHL clubs. The Pittsburgh and Detroit clubs had been doing...

  15. Chapter 11 The Rebellion
    (pp. 133-142)

    As the NHL struggled to deal with its franchise problems, a threat, in the form of a rival league, emerged within the professional hockey network. A number of minor leagues were displeased with the NHL affiliation agreement, especially its draft provision. A group of people who had been denied entry into the NHL took advantage of this sentiment and aligned themselves with one of the malcontents, the AHA. This other group represented investors who had built the Chicago Stadium before the Depression and now believed that the economic downturn would endanger their investment unless they could get a second major-league...

  16. Chapter 12 In the Best Interests of Hockey
    (pp. 143-151)

    Even with the destruction of the AHL as a major league, the NHL could not claim to be the only powerful organization in the world of commercialized hockey. The Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) remained the largest hockey organization in Canada and, in the eyes of the NHL governors, held the largest reserve of players. During the twenties, the CAHA enjoyed the same prosperity that the NHL did. Its membership, as well as its influence, grew. With branches in every province of the Dominion, the CAHA had, in terms of control mechanisms, as elaborate a system as the NHL’s. An...

  17. Chapter 13 Overtime
    (pp. 152-156)

    A web of stakeholders contributed to the construction and popularization of hockey – a sport that was eventually dominated by one governing organization, the National Hockey League. But long before the hegemonic rule of the NHL, fans, media, facility owners, players, and administrators established interlocking interests and helped to commercialize and professionalize elite-level hockey. Throughout the development of this hockey network that created an industry, the ties among the media, the facility owners, and the governing bodies were especially close. Sportsmen were investors in facilities. Some reporters, including the first NHL president, Frank Calder, served in the various associations and leagues...

  18. Appendix A: Rules of Hockey, 1877
    (pp. 157-157)
  19. Appendix B: Stanley Cup Regulations
    (pp. 158-159)
  20. Appendix C: National Hockey Association Constitution, 1910
    (pp. 160-168)
  21. Appendix D: Binding Agreement of 1926
    (pp. 169-171)
  22. Appendix E: Ottawa Gate Receipts, 1927–35
    (pp. 172-172)
  23. Appendix F: Detroit Gate Receipts, 1927–35
    (pp. 173-173)
  24. Appendix G: NHL Club Net Average Revenues by Year, 1929–45
    (pp. 174-174)
  25. Brief Biographies of Hockey Personalities
    (pp. 175-178)
  26. Notes
    (pp. 179-228)
  27. Index
    (pp. 229-235)