New York Americans: Wikis

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For the 1941 American football team, see New York Americans (AFL).
New York Americans
List of New York Americans seasons
Founded 1925
History Quebec Bulldogs
1878 - 1920
Hamilton Tigers
1920 - 1925
New York Americans
1925 - 1941
Brooklyn Americans
1941-1942 (franchise canceled 1946)
Home arena Madison Square Garden
City New York, New York
Colors Red, white, and blue

The New York Americans (colloquially known as the Amerks) were a professional ice hockey team based in New York, New York. They were the third expansion team in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the second to play in the United States. The team never won the Stanley Cup, but reached the semifinals twice. It may be more famous for its first owner, a bootlegger in New York City, and the behaviour of its team members and staff. While it was the first team in New York, it was eclipsed by the second, the New York Rangers, and was taken over by the NHL. The team suspended operations for the 1941–42 season, but its franchise was not formally canceled until 1946. The demise of the Americans marked the beginning of the NHL's Original Six era.

The team's overall regular season record was 255-402-127.

Contents

Franchise history

The 1925-26 New York Americans

In 1923, Thomas Duggan received options on three NHL franchises for the United States. After selling one to Boston grocery magnate Charles Adams, Duggan arranged with Tex Rickard to have a team in Madison Square Garden. Rickard agreed, but play was delayed until the new Garden was built in 1925. In April of that year, Duggan and Bill Dwyer, New York's most-celebrated prohibition bootlegger, were awarded the franchise for New York. Somewhat fortuitously given the shortage of players, the Hamilton Tigers, who had finished first the season before, had been suspended from the league after they struck for higher pay. Dwyer duly bought the collective rights to the Tiger players for $75,000 and moved them to the newly built Garden. The Tigers franchise was suspended and never returned; the NHL does not consider the Americans to be a continuation of the Tigers.

The New York Americans in 1929.

The New York Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates became the second and third American-based teams in the NHL. They followed Adams' Boston Bruins, who began the previous season. As with the Pirates, the choice of "Americans" as a nickname may have been influenced by a local strong baseball team, specifically the New York Yankees, but Rickard also wanted to market the American character of the team, which was playing a sport acknowledged as Canadian.

Success didn't come easily for the Americans. Even though their roster was substantively the same that finished first the previous year, in the Americans' first season, 1925–26, they finished fifth overall with a record of 12-22-4. However, they did prove a success at the box office; so much so that the following season Garden management landed a team of its own, the New York Rangers, despite promising Dwyer that the Amerks would be the sole hockey team in the Garden. The Amerks were forced to support the bid due to a clause in their lease with the Garden.

1925-26 New York Americans game program cover for hockey at Madison Square Garden

The 1926–27 season saw the Americans continue to struggle, finishing 17-25-2. Part of the problem was that they were placed in the Canadian Division, resulting in a large number of train trips to Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Meanwhile, the Rangers won the American Division title. The next season would see the Americans fall even further from grace by finishing last overall with a record of 11-27-6 and would see the Rangers capture the Stanley Cup in only their second year of existence.

The 1927–28 NHL season saw the Amerks sign star goaltender Roy Worters from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would lead the team to a 19-13-12 record in the 1928–29 NHL season, good enough for second overall. Worters had an incredible 1.21 goals against average, becoming the first goaltender to win the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player in the league. Standing on Worters' shoulders, the Americans would make the playoffs for the first time, but would be unable to beat the New York Rangers in a "total goals" series. The Rangers had extreme difficulty scoring against Worters, but the futile Americans were unable to score against the Rangers, too. The Rangers ended up winning the series in the second game one to nothing in overtime.

The next season saw the Americans go from second best to worst overall. Worters had an atrocious 3.75 goals against and the team ended up with a 14-25-5 record. Worters would rebound for the next season, with a 1.68 goals against average. That was good enough to give the Americans a winning record. However, they lost a playoff berth since Montreal Maroons had two more wins; wins are the NHL's first tiebreaker for playoff seeding.

The following season (1931–32) saw some developments that would change the way the NHL played the game. In a game against the Bruins, the Americans iced the puck 61 times. At that time, there was no rule against icing. Adams was so angry that he pressured, to no avail, for the NHL to make a rule against icing. So, next time the two teams met, the Bruins iced the puck 87 times in a scoreless game. It wasn't until a few years later that the NHL made a rule prohibiting icing, but those two games were the catalyst for change.

New York Americans logo from 1926-1938.

Overall, the Americans were struggling on and off the ice. With the end of Prohibition, Dwyer was finding it difficult to make ends meet. After the 1933–34 NHL season, having missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year, the Americans attempted a merger with the equally strapped Senators, only to be turned down by the NHL Board of Governors. During the 1935–36 NHL season, Dwyer finally decided to sell the team. As fortunes would have it, the Americans made the playoffs for the first time in six years that season, but would bow out in the second round against Toronto. No buyers were found for the team and Dwyer abandoned it, causing the NHL to assume control for the 1936–37 NHL season. Dwyer sued the NHL, saying they had no authority to seize his team. A settlement was reached where Dwyer could resume control provided he could pay off his debts. After the 1936-37 season, Dwyer could not do so, and the NHL took full control of the franchise. The league-controlled team would fare no better than before, finishing last with a record of 15-29-4. The only bright spot was Sweeney Schriner, who led the league in scoring that year.

With Red Dutton now running the team for the 1937–38 season, the Americans signed veterans Ching Johnson and Hap Day and acquired goalie Earl Robertson. These new acquisitions greatly helped the team as they finished the season with a 19-18-11 record and would make the playoffs. In the playoffs, they would beat the Rangers in three games, but go onto lose against the Chicago Black Hawks in three.

Team jersey, Hockey Hall-of-Fame

The next two seasons (1938–39 and 1939–40) saw the Americans make the playoffs for the second and third straight times. These times, though, they would not make it past the first round. The following season, 1940–41, they missed the playoffs with a horrible record of 8-29-11. Canada had entered World War II in September, 1939, and many of the team's Canadian players left for military service. While the league's other teams were similarly hard-hit, Dutton was still bogged down by lingering debt from the Dwyer era. This debt, combined with the depletion of talent and wartime travel restrictions, forced Dutton to sell off his best players for cash. The Amerks were clearly living on borrowed time; it was only a matter of when, not if, they would fold.


At wit's end, Dutton changed the team's name for the 1941–42 NHL season to the Brooklyn Americans. He had every intent on moving the team to Brooklyn, but due to a lack of a decent arena, the Brooklyn Americans continued to play their home games in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden while practicing in Brooklyn. They barely survived the season, finishing with a record of 16-29-3. After the season, the Amerks suspended operations for the war's duration. However, in 1946, the NHL reneged on promises to reinstate the Amerks and canceled the franchise. Although Dutton had every intention of returning the Amerks to the ice after World War II, NHL records list the Amerks as having "retired" from the league in 1942.

The NHL would not expand beyond its remaining six teams until the 1967–68 season. Dutton, however, blamed the owners of Madison Square Garden (who also owned the Rangers) for pressuring the NHL to not reinstate the Americans. Dutton was so bitter that he purportedly swore the Rangers would never win a Stanley Cup again in his lifetime. This "curse" became reality as for more than fifty years, the Rangers went without a Cup. The Rangers wouldn't win another Cup until 1994, seven years after Dutton's death.

The last active New York Americans player was Pat Egan, who retired in 1951. The last active Brooklyn Americans player was Ken Mosdell, who retired in 1959.

The New York Metropolitan Area would not have a second NHL team again until the establishment of the New York Islanders in nearby Uniondale, New York in 1972.

Season-by-season record

Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1925–26 36 12 20 4 28 68 89 361 fifth, NHL Out of Playoffs
1926–27 44 17 25 2 36 82 91 349 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1927–28 44 11 27 6 28 63 128 563 fifth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1928–29 44 19 13 12 50 53 53 486 second, Canadian Lost Quarterfinals (NY Rangers)
1929–30 44 14 25 5 33 113 161 372 fifth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1930–31 44 18 16 10 46 76 74 495 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1931–32 48 16 24 8 40 95 142 596 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1932–33 48 15 22 11 41 91 118 460 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1933–34 48 15 23 10 40 104 132 365 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1934–35 48 12 27 9 33 100 142 250 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1935–36 48 16 25 7 39 109 122 392 third, Canadian Won Quarterfinals (Chicago)
Lost Semifinals (Toronto)
1936–37 48 15 29 4 34 122 161 481 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1937–38 48 19 18 11 49 110 111 327 second, Canadian Won Quarterfinals (NY Rangers)
Lost Semifinals (Chicago)
1938–39 48 17 21 10 44 119 157 276 fourth, NHL Lost Quarterfinals (Toronto)
1939–40 48 15 29 4 34 106 140 236 sixth, NHL Lost Quarterfinals (Detroit)
1940–41 48 8 29 11 27 99 186 231 seventh, NHL Out of Playoffs
1941–42 48 16 29 3 35 133 175 425 seventh, NHL Out of Playoffs
Totals 784 255 402 127 637 1643 2182 6665

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Notable players

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Hall of famers

Team captains

Coaches

Head Coaches for the New York Americans:

See also

References

  • New York Americans
  • Coleman, Charles (1966). Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol I., 1893–1926 inc.. Kendall/Hunt. 
  • Frayne, Trent (1974). The Mad Men of Hockey. New York, New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. ISBN 0396070604. 

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