As our beloved St. Louis Blues once again head into playoff hockey, we look back at 1919, a year without a Stanley Cup champion.
Hockey was a lot different 100 years ago. For one, there were two major leagues, the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). In the 1918-1919 season the NHL only had three teams and the PCHA had nine. Seasons were also much shorter, with the NHL having 18 games and the PCHA with 20. The champion of each league would play for the Stanley Cup, which was first awarded in 1893.
The National Hockey League Championship would be played between the first place Ottawa Senators (12-6) vs the second place Montreal Canadiens (10-8) in a 5 game series. Toronto, who won the Cup in 1918, finished in third place and out of the running. Playoffs began on February 22nd with the Canadiens winning the first three games 8-4, 5-3, 6-3. The Senators won game four 6-3 and the Canadiens won game five 2-4. The Canadiens, winning the majority, claimed the championship and advanced to the Stanley Cup final.
In the Pacific Coast Hockey Association Championship, it was the first place and defending champions Vancouver Millionaires (12-8), vs the second place Seattle Metropolitans (11-9). By PCHA rules, the teams would play two games and whoever had the most total points won the championship. Games started on March 12th, and each team would pick up a win, but the Metropolitans would emerge victorious in points 7-5.
Since the Stanley cup featured the champion from two different hockey leagues, the rules for the finals would alternate for each game, starting with the PCHA rules for game one, three and five before switching to NHL rules for games two and four.
Cup finals started on March 19th in Seattle at the Seattle Ice Arena in a game dominated by the Metropolitans, who coasted to a 0-7 victory. Game two went to the Canadiens in a 4-2 win. Game three was won by Seattle 2-7. Game four, which could have decided the series for Seattle, ended in a 0-0 tie after 2 overtimes on March 26. The fifth game was played on March 29th and the Canadiens kept their cup hopes alive with a 4-3 OT win. Since the fifth game was determined to be a do over for game four, it also used NHL rules.
The sixth and hopefully deciding game was set for April 1st before being cancelled by an influenza outbreak called the Spanish Flu (see our blog post "Flu Pandemic of 1918" for more information). The outbreak hospitalized several key players on both teams but hit the Canadiens worse. The flu would eventually claim the life of Canadiens’ defenseman Joe Hall and permanently weakened their manager George Kennedy. Though the Canadiens tried to forfeit game 6, the Metropolitans refused to accept the Cup via forfeit. Thus, the Stanley Cup series final would go down in the books as a no decision.