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Relocated NHL Teams: The Montreal Maroons

The Montreal Maroons were an ice hockey team that played in the NHL between 1924 and 1938. The team came into existence in 1924 to replace the Montreal Wanderers who had folded in 1918 following a fire that burned down their rig. They entered the league along fellow expansion team Boston Bruins. The team was to be called the Wanderers but a rights dispute emerged and Maroons was picked instead, in reference to the color of their jerseys. In order to operate in the Montreal market, the team had to pay $11000 because of infringement on the Montreal Canadiens territory.

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The Maroons were one of the better teams during their 14-year stint in the NHL. They were regular participants in the playoffs and had two Stanley Cup Championships to show for their efforts. Their first season in competition was 1924/25. They finished in fifth place with a 9-19-2 record. The following season, they improved markedly, finishing in second place in their division with a 20-11-5 record. In the playoffs, they beat the Pittsburg Penguins and then defeated the Ottawa Senators in the Championship game. They then dispatched the Victoria Cougars in four games to win their first Stanley Cup.

In 1926/27, they were unable to make it past the playoffs but made amends in the 1927/28 season. That season, they finished second in their division before defeating the Ottawa Senators 3-1 in the playoffs and the Montreal Canadiens in the Championship Game to reach the Stanley Cup for the second time running. They however lost to the New York Americans in five games. They then had to wait until the 1934/35 season for another Stanley Cup appearance where they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in four straight games. During the 1935/36 season, they finished top of the Canadian Division with a 22-16-10 record. The Detroit Red Wings were however waiting to vanquish them in the semifinals. In what proved to be their last season, the Maroons finished last in the 1936/37 season with a mediocre 12-30-6 record.

The Maroons had a long standing rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, which provided some spectacular duels between the two teams over the years. Brawls were common occurrences each time the two rivals met. Sometimes, the fights were so intense that they would spread to the fans and even journalists affiliated to both sides. The tension would usually carry over to the newspapers the following morning as rival reporters maligned the other team.

Why were the Montreal Maroons Relocated?

The Montreal Maroons were one of the teams that were hardest hit by the Great Depression. Between 1934 and 1936, the Maroons had the league’s worst attendance which put the team in dire financial straits. The Maroons were predominantly an Anglo-Canadian team while the Canadiens were largely Franco-Canadian. The latter were luckier with attendance because the Francophone population in Montreal was larger than English speaking population. By 1935, it was clear that Montreal did not have space for both the Canadiens and the Maroons, both of which were now owned by the Canadian Arena Company. Though the Maroons sold many of their best players in order to stay afloat, they remained competitive through the 1930s but it eventually caught up with them as the finished last during the 1937/38 season. Rumors about the folding of the team had all but turned true despite vehement denial of such an eventuality by club president Donat Raymond. When the season concluded the ownership lodged a request with the league to allow the team to suspend operations for the 1938-39 season. Attempts to sell the team to a St. Louis based group who planned to relocate the team were blocked by the league because St. Louis had been unsuccessful in hosting an earlier franchise. The planned one-year hiatus turned into nearly seven years. In 1945, further attempts to relocate, this time to Philadelphia hit a snag after funds for a new stadium failed to materialize. In 1947, the Maroons franchise was canceled when it was clear there was no forthcoming solution to their financial woes.

Montreal Maroons Notable Players

Nels Stewart C 1925-1932
Babe Siebert LW 1925-1932
Dunc Munro D 1924-1931
Clint Benedict G 1924-1930
James Walsh D 1926-1928, 1928-1933
Archie Wilcox D 1929-1934
Paul Haynes C 1930-1935
Jimmy Ward RW 1927-1938
Lawrence Northcott LW 1928-1938
Hooley Smith D 1927-1936
Dave Trottier LW 1928-1938
Earl Robinson C/RW 1928-1938
Herbie Cain LW 1933-1938
Lionel Conacher D 1930-1933, 1934-1937
Red Dutton D 1926-1930

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