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Pacific Northwest Hockey

Tonight the Boston Bruins return to Vancouver, BC, for the seventh and final game of the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Canucks. It’s been a wild series, as all hockey fans know, with the Canucks winning three painfully close games in Vancouver (1-0 with the goal scored in the final seconds, 3-2 in overtime, 1-0), while the Bruins have won three blowouts in Boston (8-1, 4-0, 5-2 and not as close as that suggests).

It’s not that often that the hockey world focuses its attention on this part of the continent. But there was a time when the world did so routinely. Before attention shifts again, let me recall those days of Pacific Northwest hockey glory.

We’re talking about 1915 to 1922, when the Stanley Cup was a competition between the champion of the Pacific Coast Hockey League and the champion of the National Hockey Association (which in 1918 became the National Hockey League). Under this arrangement, a team here in the northwest played for the Cup every year.

Reviewing the data, which you can find here, we see that Vancouver was the Stanley Cup champion in 1915. That would be the Vancouver Millionaires, who defeated the Ottawa Senators. The Portland Rosebuds lost the next year to Montreal, and then in 1917 our very own Seattle Metropolitans beat Montreal for the cup, bringing the cup to the US for the first time. We missed out in 1918, when Vancouver lost to Toronto, but we were back in the cup competition in 1919. Alas, the series was cancelled midway through because of the flu epidemic, with Seattle and Montreal tied. A year later, we were in it again, but lost to Ottawa.

That’s three cup appearances in four years for Seattle!

Then it was Vancouver’s turn, losing in successive years to Ottawa and to Toronto. By this point, a third league had entered the fray, the Western Canada Hockey League, soon to become the Western Hockey League. Soon thereafter, the PCHA folded, with the WHL absorbing the Vancouver and Victoria teams. In 1925, the Victoria team, the Cougars, beat the Montreal Canadiens for the Cup, and in 1926, they lost it to the Montreal Maroons.

With that, the WHL folded, bringing Pacific Northwest Stanley Cup hockey to an end, at least until the NHL added the Vancouver Canucks in 1970. Since 1927, the Stanley Cup has been an NHL-only competition.

Will the Cup return to the northwest? We’ll soon know. But how about returning a team to Seattle? It’s a continuing joke that the NHL has teams in some of the most unlikely southern outposts, but none in this historic hockey hotbed. We’re ready and willing. And imagine the rivalry with Vancouver.

Categories: History, Hockey
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