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Relocated NHL Teams: The Philadelphia Quakers

The Philadelphia Quakers were an NHL team that existed during the 1930/31 season. The Quakers came into being when the Pittsburg Pirates, undergoing serious financial trouble came to Philadelphia prior to the 1930/31 season. The Pirates had been only the third American team in the NHL when they were started in 1925 but after 5 disastrous years, the team found themselves $400,000 in debt and had to look for a fresh start elsewhere. The move to Philadelphia was actually meant to be temporary, only until a new arena was build in Pittsburg. The name Quakers was borrowed from the religious society by the same name which had played an important role in the founding of Philadelphia city and the state of Pennsylvania. The Quakers would play their home games at the Philadelphia Arena.

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The Quakers’ record in play during their sole season was horrendous. Their first game, a 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers was an ominous sign of things to come. They had to wait three games to register their first goal and then two more games for their first win, a 2-1home win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. After that they went on a 15 game losing streak, the worst ever in NHL history. After a 4-3 overtime win over the Montreal Maroons, the Quakers would only manage to win two more games the rest of the season, a home and away double over the Detroit Falcons. One of those wins against the Falcons was their only road win of the season. They closed the season with a 4-4 tie against the Canadiens which gave them a shameful record of 4-36-4, arguably the worst ever record in the NHL. Their win percentage of .136 remained the league’s lowest until the Washington Capitals’ .131 45 years later. With just 76 goals all season, they had the league’s worst offense but they also conceded 184 goals for the league’s worst defense as well.

For all their ineptitude in playing the game, the Quakers’ roster was certainly filled with a bunch of brutes. It seems they made up for the lack of excitement for the fans with mad brawls. Their most infamous incident came on Christmas day 1930 during a game against the Boston Bruins that ended 8-0 in favor of the Bruins. Late in the third quarter with two minutes of play left and the Bruins already 8 goals up, Quaker Hib Milks was clipped by Bruins Defenseman George Owen as Milks started a rush out of his own zone. Perhaps out of pent up frustration, Milks jumped into a nasty brawl with Owen prompting another Bruin Eddie Shore to come in to help Owen. However that was a signal for the rest of the players to get into the fray as each player aside from Quakers goalie who was on the wrong end of the action picked on the nearest partner from the opposing team and whacked him with whatever he could. Meanwhile, fans in the stands started hurling missiles at players and at this point police were called in. Milks and Owen had to be physically separated by the cops and some fans were arrested. The brawl lasted over 10 minutes as Christmas Carols played over the arena speakers the whole time. at the end of it all, Quakers players had probably thrown in more jabs than the 20 shots at goal they managed all game.

Why the Philadelphia Quakers Relocated

With the US in the middle of the great depression and many teams in trouble, the Quakers had more than enough strikes against them. The team was a complete disaster on the ice, attendance at the Philadelphia Arena was often in the hundreds and debts from their time in Pittsburg still remained unpaid. After the conclusion of the season, owner Benny Leonard requested the league to be allowed to sit out the 1931/32 season as did the Ottawa Senators, another franchise struggling fiscally. The league obliged but the Quakers would stay out of the league for five more seasons, while the Senators returned after only one season out. Eventually the franchise was cancelled on May 7, 1936 when it was evident that hopes of a new arena in Pittsburg had disappeared. The two Pennsylvania cities would have to wait till 1967 for NHL action when a league expansion led to the formation of the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburg Penguins.

Philadelphia Quakers most Notable Players

Gerry Lowrey F 1930/31

Syd Howe 1930/31

Wilfe Cude 1930/31

Herb Drury 1930/31

Wally Kilrea 1930/31

Hib Milks 1930/31

Joe Miller 1930/31

Cliff Barton F 1930/31

Al Shields D 1930/31

James ‘Bud’ Jarvis F 1930/31

D’Arcy Coulson F 1930/31

John McKinnon D 1930/31

Al Shields D 1930/31

Gord Fraser D 1930/31

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