Toronto St. Patricks

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The Toronto St. Patricks were a professional men's ice hockey team which began playing in the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1919. The Toronto NHL franchise (league membership) had previously been held by the Arena Company (and the team called the "Arenas"), but despite winning the Stanley Cup the team was bankrupt and pulled out of the league after just two seasons. The rights to the Toronto franchise was purchased by a group of investors with links to an amateur club called the "St. Patricks". The new owners renamed the NHL franchise after the amateur club, and as the St. Patricks the team won the Stanley Cup in 1922. J.P. Bickell invested in the St. Patricks in 1924 as a favor to Charlie Querrie. In 1927, Charlie Querrie and other investors wanted out, J.P. Bickell made arrangements for other Toronto investors and initially hired Mike Rodden the Referee and sports writer to run the hockey operations, which didn't work out. He then hired Conn Smythe as the Managing Partner. The team was then renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs for a number of reasons, two of which are the Maple Leaf was an unofficial Canadian national symbol and secondly it was the name of the Toronto Maple Leaf Baseball Club 1896-1967. They played from Maple Leaf Stadium since 1926.

The St. Pats organization had operated amateur hockey clubs in the Toronto area since the first decade of the 1900s, including the senior amateur St. Patricks team in the Ontario Hockey Association.

The Toronto franchise of the National Hockey League (NHL), since the NHL's founding in 1917, had been operated by the Arena Company, operators of the Arena Gardens in Toronto. The Arena Company had been granted a temporary franchise for the 1917-18 season, and leased the players from the Toronto Blueshirts from owner Eddie Livingstone while litigation was underway between Livingstone and the NHL. This temporary franchise won the Stanley Cup in 1918. However, instead of returning the players to Livingstone, the Arena Company formed the Toronto Arena Hockey Club, popularly known as the Toronto Arenas, with Arena Company auditor Hubert Vearncombe as team president. This new organization was duly admitted to the NHL as a full member in good standing, touching off a new round of litigation with Livingstone which forced the Arenas to unload most of their stars. They only won five games in 1918-19, and were forced to suspend operations in February.

Livingstone won a $20,000 judgment against the Arena Company, which declared bankruptcy to avoid paying the bill. Before the 1919–20 season, general manager Charlie Querrie learned that the Arena Company wanted to sell. As an interim measure, Querrie changed the team name to the Tecumsehs on December 7, 1919. The following day, Querrie reached agreement with the owners of the amateur St. Patrick's club to purchase the franchise. Frank Heffernan was named as manager. On December 13, 1919, the NHL transferred the Toronto franchise to the Querrie-St. Patricks group, for the fee of $5,000. The incorporation date of the club was December 22, 1919, and listed Fred Hambly, Percy Hambly, Paul Ciceri and Querrie with 99 shares each, and Richard Greer with 4 shares. This move was possible because the Arena Hockey Club was a self-contained corporation, and was therefore beyond the legal reach of Livingstone.

Although Querrie returned, player turnover was nearly 100%, partly because the Quebec NHL franchise was activating for this season, and the players that had been loaned to the Arenas and other NHL teams had been returned to Quebec. Additionally, with the poor performance of the previous season, and the turnover in franchise management, the franchise essentially started over. The club improved to second and third-place finishes in the halves of the schedule.

In 1920–21, the club placed second and first in the schedule halves, enough to make a playoff appearance. Unfortunately, the 'Super Six' of Ottawa would dominate the club 7–0 in a two-game total goals playoff. The experience would be helpful in the following season, however.

This page was last edited on 16 May 2018, at 04:13.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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