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Relocated NHL Teams: The Quebec Athletic Club

The Quebec Athletic Club were a Canadian ice hockey team that played in the NHA and the NHL from 1910 to 1920. The team’s home stadium was the Quebec Arena. The Quebec Athletic Club can trace their roots to 1888 when the team began playing in various amateur leagues. In 1908, the Athletics went professional and became one of the charter franchises of the Canadian Hockey Association in 1909. When the CHA folded barely a month into its life, the Bulldogs merged with the Cobalt Silver Kings and joined the National Hockey Association.

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The Athletics started their life in competition in impressive fashion but then waned off into mediocrity during their final years. Their first active season was the 1910/11 season which they finished last with a 4-12 record. They improved tremendously during the 1911/1912 season as they finished top of the NHL with a 16-4 season. With the NHA title in the bag they set out to collect the Stanley Cup, with the Moncton Victoria waiting for them in the cup final. The Athletics would emerge with a 17-3 aggregate score. Another 16-4 record the following season saw them retain the NHA title and they then went on to beat the Sydney Millionaires 20-5 in the Stanley Cup final to retain that as well. A 2-1 series loss against the Victoria Aristocrats would have been the Cup Final but that was not counted as the Stanley Cup Board of Trustees did not recognize it. The teams had tied the first two games after which the Aristocrats beat the Athletics 6-1. The grounds for the disqualification were that the series was played in Quebec instead of a neutral arena. From then on the team’s return dropped significantly. The finished third in each of the three seasons between 1913/1914 and 1915/1916. They then finished second in 1916/1917. The teams had tied the first two games after which the Aristocrats beat the Athletics 6-1. The grounds for the disqualification were that the series was played in Quebec instead of a neutral arena. From then on the team’s return dropped significantly. The finished third in each of the three seasons between 1913/1914 and 1915/1916. They then finished second in 1916/1917.

Starting 1917, the club started faltering under the heavy financial problems that they were facing and they were forced to suspend operations until 1919. They returned to play in 1919/20, now in the newly formed NHL but they only managed a 4-20 record that saw then finish last. The season was characterized by inept performance perhaps best defined by a miserable outing the Athletics had at the Montreal Canadiens’ on March 3, 1920. The team was on the back of a two game losing streak and were clear underdogs for this fixture. The Canadiens meanwhile were in devastating form and it showed as they shot 16 goals into the hapless Athletics’ goal. The final score was 16-3, which makes it the highest scoring game in the history of the NHA and NHL. That same season, the Athletics had four other fixtures where they let in more than 10 goals.

Why were the Quebec Athletic Club Relocated?

Dogged by financial troubles, the Quebec Athletics had suspended operations between 1917 and 1919. The league sold the team to Quinn Percy with the aim of reviving it to play in the NHL which was formed in 1917. However, it soon emerged that Quinn wanted to use the team as leverage to revive the defunct NHA which other NHL owners had left acrimoniously. Quinn was given an ultimatum to return the team to play in the NHL for the 1918/1919 season, but he refused to commit to that. The franchise was cancelled as a result but former coach Mike Quinn took over principle ownership of the club and initiated plans to bring it back to life. The league accepted Mike’s request and the Athletics returned to action for the 1919/20 but it was clear that the franchise was far from the team it had once been. Following a dismal performance that season, the NHL again took over the club. It was then sold to new owners and moved to Hamilton, Ontario. The team was renamed Hamilton Tigers. The city of Quebec had to wait until 1972 for the return of professional hockey when the Quebec Nordiques of the WHA were formed.

Quebec Athletic Club Notable Players

Joe Malone C 1910 -1917
Joe Hall D 1910-1917
Tommy Smith LW 1912-14, 1914-16
Paddy Moran G 1901-1909, 1910-17
Rusty Crawford LW 1912-1917
Jack McDonald LW 1910-1914, 1914-1917, 1919/20
Eddie Oatman W/D 1910-1912
Jack Marks RW 1911-1917, 1919/20
Tommy Dunderdale C 1910/11
Eddie Oatman W/D 1910-1912

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