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Relocated NHL Teams: The Brooklyn Americans

The Brooklyn Americans were an ice hockey club that played in the NHL during the 1941/42 season. The team was technically the New York Americans and was never really a Brooklyn team as it was based at the Madison Square Gardens in Manhattan the whole time. The only major connection with Brooklyn was that the team trained at the Brooklyn Ice Palace. The New York Americans entered the NHL in 1923 as only the second NHL team in the USA, behind the Boston Bruins. When the Hamilton Tigers also relocated to the US and were renamed the New York Rangers, the Americans steadily lost its fan base to the new arrival. One of the main factors was that the Rangers brought some success to New York as opposed to the Americans who only registered three winning seasons in 15 years. In 1941, the team was renamed Brooklyn Americans, with the ownership hoping to tap new fans in the Brooklyn Borough.

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The change of names to Brooklyn Americans did not have much effect on the Americans’ on-field performances as they continued the New York Americans’ inept play. During the 1941/42 season, they finished last with a 19-26-3 record. Their first game of the season came against the Detroit Red Wings, with whom they drew 3-3 on November 2, 1941. After two straight losses against the Chicago Black Hawks, they registered their first win, beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. They then beat the Canadiens again in the very next game, followed by a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of the Boston Bruins. A 4-1 win over the Rangers had them hoping for a strong season but this was immediately followed by a ten game losing streak. By midseason, they had a record of 6-17-1 following some mixed results. In January, the team registered three consecutive wins for the first and only time that season as they beat the Bruins, the Red Wings and the Canadiens respectively. Their form took a turn for the worse, stringing together a 7-9-2 record that would see them finish the season with a 19-26-3 record. Their season ended with an 8-3 whitewashing by the Boston Bruins. The rivalry between the Rangers and the Americans made for some steamy encounters between the two teams. The fierce enmity between the two teams grew as they competed for the attention of fans in the New York area.

Why were the Brooklyn Americans Relocated?

When the Rangers moved to New York it was largely seen as a positive move, with the Americans having received a raucous welcome at the Madison Square Gardens in their first few years. It was believed that the New York market was large enough to support two teams but it eventually proved to be a mistaken assumption. The Americans’ fortunes took a nosedive because of their inferior quality on the rink while the Rangers went from strength to strength. With their fan base sliced by a huge chunk due to the entry of the Rangers, the Americans started to identify with Brooklyn in the hope of growing a new fan base. However the move was flawed as it alienated mainland fans even further. With gate collections down significantly, the Americans were heavy in debt. At the conclusion of the 1941/42 season, the Brooklyn Americans were suspended with the hope that they would be revived once the war was over. However after the war, the NHL went back on its earlier commitment to reinstate the team, instead choosing to remain with six teams. Bitter with the outcome, Americans owner Red Dutton minced no words to explain his distaste for the tactics employed by the Rangers to run his team out of town and, which he felt were uncompetitive. He proclaimed that the Rangers would not win the Stanley Cup again in his lifetime and that prophecy came to pass as the Rangers had to wait till 1992 for their next Stanley Cup triumph. This was seven years after Dutton’s death. During their prolonged dry spell, the Rangers had to endure countless references to Dutton’s words. The city of New York meanwhile received an expansion franchise in 1972 that was called the New York Islanders.

Brooklyn Americans Notable Players

Tom Anderson D 1941/42
Mel Hill RW 1941/42
Bill Benson C 1941/42
Murray Armstrong C 1941/42
Pat Egan D 1941/42
Buzz Boll LW 1941/42
Harry Watson LW 1941/42
Ken Mosdell C 1941/42
Wilf Field D 1941/42
Norm Larson RW 1941/42
Chuck Rayner G 1941/42

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