Turning Back the NHL Clock: Pittsburgh Pirates

Greg CaggianoSenior Writer IJuly 7, 2008

The next article in my summer long series on defunct NHL franchises is on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With the success of the Bruins in Boston and the Americans in New York, the NHL decided to add another American team to the mix. Since 1915, an amateur hockey league team named the Yellow Jackets had been playing in Pittsburgh. It was in 1925 when the NHL decided to grant them a franchise.

For a team that is all but forgotten, the Pirates were a very important franchise. They were the first team in the history to change players on the fly, something we don’t even think about today. Because of this aggressive style of play for the time, they would finish with a 19-16-1 record and make the playoffs before losing to the Montreal Maroons.

After missing the playoffs the next season, they managed to creep in yet again only to lose to the New York Rangers in the opening round. Right after their playoff exit, management would change and the team would take a turn for the worse by finishing 9-27-6 that following year.

When the stock market crashed in 1929, it was the beginning of the end for the Pirates franchise. The owners were in so much debt that the team was moved to Philadelphia where they played as the Quakers for one season before finally folding.

During the five seasons, the Pirates had two coaches—Odie Cleghorn and Frank Fredrickson.

While playing at Duquesne Gardens, the team had three captains—Lionel Conacher, Harold Cotton, and Gerry Lowrey.

It wasn’t until the NHL expansion in 1967 when Pittsburgh would once again have a crack at an NHL franchise. This time around, the team was a little more successful.