With the NHL expanding to 32 teams in 2021-22, Seattle is to finally get their first NHL team. It has long been rumoured and even longer has it been wanted. Though Seattle already has a WHL team, The Seattle Thunderbirds, they have a hockey history that dates back way farther than the junior team. There is a rich history of hockey royalty, revolutionizing the game and even Stanley Cup champions.
The Patrick Family, The PCHA and The Metropolitans
Joseph Patrick was born in 1857 in South Derham Quebec and was a father to 8 children, two of which are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Joseph was an entrepreneur, in 1887 he bought a general store and sold it 5 years later to fund his next company. In 1907, he started Patrick Lumber Company and by 1911 he sold it for $440,000, which according to this calculator, is more than $11.6 Mil in 2019 dollars.
Frank and Lester Patrick
Joe may have raised the two most important men in western hockey history, Francis “Frank” Patrick and Curtis Lester “Les, The Silver Fox” Patrick. Both brothers where notable young players. The two won a Queens Cup Championship in 1905 together at McGill University. The Queens Cup is still given out to the best university hockey team in Ontario and Quebec. When Their old man sold his lumber company the brothers wanted to start a hockey league. And like any good Canadian hockey father, he funded it, building the first artificial ice rinks in Canada in Victoria and Vancouver, BC. Victoria got the smaller of the two arenas, seating 4000 people and costing roughly $110,000 to build. Vancouver got the larger primary arena seating 10,500 and costing $210,000. Joseph laid the family fortune on the line to form the PCHA, The Pacific Coast Hockey Association. The PCHA would be home to 3 teams at first, The Vancouver Millionaires, New Westminster Royals, and the Victoria Senators.
The Patrick brothers changed the game forever more introducing rules that still remain in the NHL rulebook to this day. They are considered “the brains of modern hockey”. Frank is believed to be the first defenceman to score a goal. They are responsible for things that people assume have been a part of the game forever, including numbered sweaters (at the suggestion from Papa Joe), the forward pass, the blue line, they started tracking the assist and even coming up with the three 20 minute periods. They eventually eliminated the seventh on-ice position, the rover for what we use now, three forwards, two defences and one goalie. Speaking of goalies, they started allowing goalies to make saves outside of the standing posting, allowing for the eventual development of “the butterfly” technique. They started the first farm systems for developing players. They kicked off the “best of” playoff format we all have grown to love instead of the two-game, total goal series that was known prior. They are also credited with coining the term “superstar” (referring to Vancouver’s Cyclone Taylor), two referees on the ice, on the fly line changes, the penalty shot and kicking the puck during play. Both brothers are in the Hockey Hall of Fame as builders, had NHL’s Patrick Division named after them and have had many family members play in the NHL and some even inducted into the HHOF themselves. The Patrick Family has been on the Stanley Cup 7 times now as players, and executives. They are truly “Hockey’s Royal Family”.
Seattle and the PCHA
To get the players they would need to fill the teams for the PCHA, they raided the NHA (National Hockey Association). Their entire league would have 23 players. (including 2 on reserve for injuries) That works out to only 7 guys a team. 1914 saw Portland get a team in the Portland Rosebuds and in 1915 finally saw Seattle get the Seattle Metropolitans. The Rosebuds would be the first Non-Canadian team to play for the Stanley Cup in 1916, but they would lose. In that time the Stanley Cup didn’t belong to any particular league but instead was an award that could be challenged for by another team. The following year, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to win the Stanley Cup.
In 1917 The Seattle Metropolitans would challenge the defending Montreal Canadiens (of the NHA at that time. Yes that’s right, the same team that is still playing today. The Habs are older than the NHL itself.) This would be a best of 5 series hosted by Seattle in the Seattle Ice Arena and be the first Stanley Cup Final to be played in American soil. Because the teams would both come from different leagues, they each played with slightly different rules. Games one, three and five would be played under PCHA rules and games two and four would be under NHA rules. The PCHA at the time played 7 teams on each side (NHA only had 6), forward passing in the neutral zone (NHA had no such rule) and had no substitution for penalized players (NHA, didn’t have that rule). Seattle would lose game one 8-4 but would win the next three 6-1, 4-1 and 9-1 to win the best of five series.
The Stanley Cup would be engraved with “Seattle/World’s Champions/Defeated Canadians/1917”. Yes, that’s right, one last rub of salt in the wound spelling “Canadians” with an “a” not an “e”. Pete Muldoon is still the youngest coach to ever win the Stanley Cup at only 30 years old. This was the last Stanely Cup Final to not have an NHL team playing for the mug.
The Metropolitans would play for the Stanley Cup two more times. The first was in 1919 against the Ottawa Senators, the series would be cancelled after a locked 2-2-1 series due to the Spanish flu. They would play Ottawa again in 1920. Ottawa wore solid white sweaters that series because both teams wore barber style striped jerseys and didn’t want any confusion. Seattle would wind up losing the series.
As far as NHL expansions go, this is a no-brainer. If you can stick a team in the middle of a desert on the Las Vegas strip and turn it into a hockey town within the first year, I don’t think it is outside of the realm of possibility to rekindle Seattle’s hockey power. As someone currently living in the Pacific North West, I could not be more excited about the placement of the new team. Seattle may not have the winning success that Vegas did in its first year, but whether they know it or not, Seattle has some deep, deep ties with the beautiful game.