NHL Playoff Memories: The Eternal Chase for Lord Stanley's Cup, 1919

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NHL Playoff Memories: The Eternal Chase for Lord Stanley's Cup, 1919

April 1, 1919.

 

The Stanley Cup series in Seattle, Washington between NHL champion Montreal Canadiens and Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) champion Seattle Metropolitans stands at 2-2-1. (At this time, it is possible for a playoff game to end in a tie.)

 

Game Six is five hours away and the Canadiens are in serious trouble.

 

Players Joe Hall, Newsy Lalonde, Louis Berlinquette, Billy Couture, Jack McDonald and owner George Kennedy are all struck with Spanish Influenza symptoms, and are moved to a local Seattle hospital.

 

All are reported to have fevers ranging between 101-105ºF.

 

In an attempt to continue the series, Kennedy asks permission to use players from the PCHA Victoria Aristocrats, but league president Frank Patrick denies the request. With no other choice, Game Six is cancelled and Kennedy cedes the series, and the Cup, to Seattle.

 

Mets manager/coach Pete Muldoon refuses to accept. In his mind, it was catastrophic illness that forced the series to a halt and not any fault of the Canadiens. It would be unsportsmanlike to accept a victory under these circumstances.

 

On April 5, 1919 “Bad” Joe Hall dies of flu-related pneumonia. Despite the nickname “Bad,” Hall was “one of the jolliest, best-hearted, most popular men who ever played,” according to Frank Patrick.

 

Lalonde, Berlinquette, Couture and McDonald all recover. Kennedy's condition declined so much his wife rushed from Montreal to his bedside. He never fully recovers and dies two years later.

 

When the Cup is redesigned in 1948, the space for the 1919 champion simply reads:

 

1919

Montreal Canadiens

Seattle Metropolitans

Series Not Completed

 

Until 2005, this was the only time in which a Stanley Cup champion was left undecided. In 1919, it was left undecided for all the right reasons.

 

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