Wednesday 3 April 2019

The Stanley Cup (French: La Coupe Stanley) – Canadian and North American Ice Hockey Trophy

The trophy was not awarded in 1919 because of a Spanish flu epidemic.

Commissioned in 1892 and called the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, the trophy is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, who was appointed Governor General of Canada and Commander in Chief of Prince Edward Island on 1st May 1888 until 1893. Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, KG, GCB, GCVO, PC (15th  January 1841 – 14th June 1908), was known as Frederick Stanley until 1886 and as Lord Stanley of Preston from 1886.

The Stanley family first saw an ice hockey match at Montreal's 1889 Winter Carnival, where they saw the Montreal Victorias play the Montreal Hockey Club. “The Montreal Gazette” reported that Lord Stanley "expressed his great delight with the game of hockey and the expertise of the players". During that time, organized ice hockey in Canada was just beginning and only Montreal and Ottawa had anything resembling leagues.  Lord Stanley donated the trophy as an award for Canada's top-ranking amateur ice hockey clubs. Stanley's sons became keen ice hockey players, playing in amateur leagues in Ottawa, and Lord and Lady Stanley became staunch hockey fans.

The first Stanley Cup was awarded in 1893 to Montreal HC, and subsequent winners from 1893 to 1914 were determined by challenge games as well as league games. Professional teams first became eligible to challenge for the Stanley Cup in 1906. In 1915, the two professional ice hockey organizations, the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA), reached a gentlemen's agreement in which their respective champions would face each other annually for the Stanley Cup. After a series of league mergers and folds, it was established as the de facto championship trophy of the NHL in 1926 and then the de jure NHL championship prize in 1947.

Since the 1914–15 season, the Cup has been won a combined 101 times by 18 active NHL teams and five defunct teams. The trophy was not awarded in 1919 because of a Spanish flu epidemic. Joe Hall, who played for the Montreal Canadiens, died on April 4th 1919.

Joseph Henry "Bad Joe" Hall (3rd May 3, 1881 – 4th April 1919) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player who played senior and professional hockey from 1902 to 1919.  Joe was in a Stanley Cup winning team three times - twice with the Quebec Bulldogs and once with the Kenora Thistles.
Born in Staffordshire, UK, Joe grew up in Brandon, Manitoba. He aquired the nickname "Bad Joe" due to his aggressiveness on the ice.

Joe was a member of the Montreal Canadians team in the Stanley Cup Finals of 1919. The Finals were interrupted and eventually cancelled due to an outbreak of Spanish Flu.

Another Canadian ice hockey player was Frank McGee who was born in Ottawa on 4th November 1882. When he left school, Frank joined the Civil Service, working for the Canadian Pacific Railway.   He was an accomplished sportsman having played lacrosse and rugby and was a keen rower and boxer.  He began playing ice hockey for the Ottawa Aberdeens.

In 1900, Frank’s older brother was serving with the Canadians in the Boer War. The Canadian Patriotic Fund was an organisation that raised funds to help the war effort and an ice hockey game was arranged against a team from Hawkesbury.   Frank sustained a cut over his eye that prevented him from joining in the after match party.   His eye did not heal and he lost the sight of his eye, which meant that he retired from ice hockey.

Incidentally, the Aberdeen Pavilion in Ottawa was the muster point when the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry were formed in 1914.

When Canada declared war on Germany, Frank joined the 21st (Eastern Ontario) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 9th November 1914, having managed to hoodwink the medical examiner who declared his vision ‘good’.   Frank’s Battalion went to France in September 1915 where he was blown up and wounded in the right knee.  He was sent back to England for treatment and attached to the Canadian Training Headquarters in Shorncliffe, Kent, where he instructed in machine gunnery.  He re-joined his old Regiment in March 1916 and was then seconded to assist the Director of Railways and Ordnance in the building of railways across Flanders and France.  By 29th August 1916, Frank was back with his old regiment again and took part in a battle to take the sugar refinery at Flers-Courcelette on 15th September 1916, in which the tank HMLS “Crème de Menthe” also took part.

On 16th September 1916, Frank was killed in a heavy artillery attack.  His body was never identified and he is remembered on the Vimy Ridge Memorial.