Toronto Arenas: Wikis


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Toronto Arenas
List of Toronto Arenas seasons
Founded 1917
History Toronto Blueshirts 1917–18
Toronto Arenas 1918–19
Toronto St. Patricks 191927
Toronto Maple Leafs 1927–present
Home arena Arena Gardens
City Toronto, Ontario
Colours Blue
Owner(s) Toronto Arena Company 1917–18
Hubert Vearncombe 1918–19

The Toronto Arenas, Toronto Blueshirts or Torontos was a professional men's ice hockey team that played in the first two seasons of the National Hockey League (NHL). It was operated by the owner of the Arena Gardens, the Toronto Arena Company. (Arena Co.) As the ownership of the National Hockey Association (NHA) Toronto Blueshirts franchise was in dispute, the new NHL league was started, and a temporary Toronto franchise was operated. The NHL itself was intended to only be a one-year entity until the NHA could be reactivated, although it never was.

For the first season, the team operated without a formal organization separate from the Arena Co. and without an official club nickname, although the press would dub the team the "Blue Shirts" or "Torontos"[1] as they had done with the NHA franchise. After the 1918-1919 season, the Arena Company formed a permanent franchise to operate the team, which evolved into today's Toronto Maple Leafs.


Franchise history

1917–18 season

By the fall of 1917, a dispute between Eddie Livingstone, owner of the Blueshirts, and the owners of the NHA's other four clubs—the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators and Quebec Bulldogs had come to a boil. The other NHA owners were eager to disassociate themselves from Livingstone, but discovered that the NHA's constitution didn't allow them to simply vote Livingstone out. With this in mind, on November 22 the NHA board of directors voted to suspend operations. At the same time, the other four NHA clubs voted to created a new league—the National Hockey League. However, they didn't invite Livingstone to join them, effectively leaving him in a one-team league.

However, the other club owners felt it would be unthinkable not to have a team from Canada's second-largest city in the NHL. They also needed a fourth team to balance the schedule, since the Bulldogs were forced to suspend operations due to financial troubles (and, as it turned out, wouldn't return until 1920) To solve the problem, NHL president Frank Calder assigned the contracts of the Blueshirt players to a 'temporary' Toronto franchise to be operated by the Toronto Arena Company, who also owned Montreal Arena. Calder had ordered Livingstone to sell the team, but Livingstone turned down several offers. The Arena Company was given a year to resolve the dispute or lose the franchise. The Arena Company did agree to compensate Livingstone for the use of the players for the season, although no suitable figure was ever reached, and the league itself disputed any claims that Livingstone had on the players.

As the Arena was the only suitable place to play at the time, the players had little choice but to play, if they wanted to play in the NHL. The NHL had also publicly announced that there was an agreement to buy out Livingstone, though this never took place. Many of the players signed contracts with both Livingstone and the Arena, and often were paid in cash or personal cheques on a week-by-week basis. Despite this uncertainty, the team was successful from the start. The team won the second half of the 1917–18 NHL season, leading to a playoff against the Montreal Canadiens. The Torontos won the playoff and would then face off against the Vancouver Millionaires for the Stanley Cup. Toronto then won the best-of-five series 3-2.

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Evolution of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Pro HC (OPHL) (1908–1909)
Toronto Blueshirts (NHA, NHL) (1912–1918)
Toronto Arenas (NHL) (1918–19)
Toronto St. Patricks (NHL) (1919–27)
Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) (1927–present)
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After the Cup win, the team did not engrave its name on the Stanley Cup. The NHL would later engrave "Toronto Arenas 1918" in 1947. In many books, the name Toronto Arena is listed as the Stanley Cup champion for 1918, but this is technically incorrect because the Toronto Arena Hockey Club was formed after the season.

1918–1919 season

In 1918, the NHA voted once again against playing and the other owners made plans to operate the NHL for a second season. Since the Torontos had won the Cup, even more revenue was at stake and Livingstone held out for $20,000, though the Arena offered $6,000. This led to Livingstone filing another lawsuit, this against the Arena owners. In response, instead of returning the players to Livingstone, or even paying Livingstone, the Arena Company returned their temporary franchise to the NHL and immediately formed a new club, the Toronto Arena Hockey Club, popularly known as the Toronto Arenas, with auditor Hubert Vearncombe as president. The new club was a separate corporation that could exist separate from any legal action. This new team was readily admitted to the NHL as a member in good standing. (The Maple Leafs themselves say they were known as the Arenas during their first season,[2] but the name "Arenas" was not recorded to commemorate the team's 1918 Cup victory until 1947.) They also decided that only NHL teams would be allowed to play at the Arena Gardens, effectively foreclosing Livingstone's efforts to resurrect the NHA.[3]

This year, the club was not successful, falling to 5 wins and 13 losses, finishing last in both halves of the season. Attendance was especially poor, recorded as only hundreds for a February 4, 1919 game against the Canadiens. Several players left the team, including Harry Holmes, Harry Meeking and Dave Ritchie. This was partly due to the operations of the team, as most players were without legal contracts, as they were really still 'property' of the Blueshirts, and were being paid in cash.

The team wrote to Calder to end the season early, and the season ended after each team had played 18 games. The Toronto Arenas then officially withdrew from the league on February 20, 1919.[4] This left the two remaining teams, Montreal and Ottawa, to play a playoff for the league championship.

1919–1920 season

On December 13, 1919, the NHL, under the direction of Frank Calder transferred the Toronto franchise, this time to the Toronto St. Pats group, for the fee of $5,000. While the money was to go to Eddie Livingstone to settle his NHA club, it never was received by Mr. Livingstone and appears to have been appropriated by Mr. Calder.[5] The incorporation date of the club was December 22, 1919, and listed Fred Hambly, Percy Hambly, Paul Ciceri and Charlie Querrie with 99 shares each, and Richard Greer with 4 shares.

Notable players

  • Jack Adams - Hall of Fame player, later Detroit coach and general manager
  • Hap Holmes - Hall of Fame goaltender


  • Dick Carroll

See also


  1. ^ Morrison, John; Mclatchy, Doug (1996), The Toronto Blue Shirts a.k.a. The Torontos, the NHL's first Stanley Cup champions 1917-1918, Hockey Information Service Inc., ISBN 1894014006 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Hunter, Douglas (1997). Champions: The Illustrated History of Hockey's Greatest Dynasties. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1572432166. 
  4. ^ Diamond, Dan (1991). The Official National Hockey League 75th anniversary commemorative book. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. pp. 26. ISBN 0771067275. 
  5. ^ [Holzman], pg.212
  • Coleman, Charles (1966). Trail of the Stanley Cup, vol. 1, 1893-2926 inc. 
  • Holzman, Morey (2002). Deceptions and Doublecross. Dundurn Press. 
Preceded by
Seattle Metropolitans
Stanley Cup Champions

Succeeded by
Ottawa Senators

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