Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Early hockey pioneer Frank Foyston was born on this date in 1891. He played 16 seasons as a professional beginning with the Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association (NHA) in 1912. He played center, rover and wing and was a renowned goal scorer.
Frank Foyston of the Toronto Blueshirts
In just his first season as a professional, Foyston scored 8 goals in 16 games with the Blueshirts. Now settled in as a Blueshirts regular, he scored 16 goals and 2 assists for 18 points in 19 games. The Blueshirts tied the Montreal Canadiens atop the NHA standings so a two-game, total-goals series was staged to determine the NHA championship.
Montreal won Game 1 with a 2-0 shutout by legendary goaltender Georges Vezina, but the Blueshirts came back to win the vital Game 2 by a score of 6-0 to win not only the O'Brien Cup as NHA champions, but become the holders of the prestigious Stanley Cup.
1914 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Blueshirts
The Blueshirts then defended their newly won Stanley Cup just three days later when challenged by the Victoria Aristocrats of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) in a best-of-five series held in Toronto. Toronto dispatched their western challengers in three straight games to retain the cup.
Foyston played one more season with the Blueshirts, scoring 22 points in 20 games before signing to play with the brand new Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA for the 1915-16 season. Foyston made is presence in the PCHA known with nine goals and 13points in 18 games, but really became a force in the league the following season with 36 goals and 12 assists for 48 points in a 24 game schedule, good for third overall in league scoring. He also amassed 51 minutes in penalties, more than double the second highest total of his entire career.
The Seattle Metropolitans
As PCHA champions, the Metropolitans were paired with the NHA champion Montreal Canadiens in a best-of-five series. Montreal dominated Game 1 by a score of 8-4 but the host Metropolitans roared back to win three straight in dominating fashion, 6-1, 4-1 and 9-1 to became the first team based in the United States to ever win the Stanley Cup. During the four games of the finals, Foyston contributed 7 goals and 3 assists for 10 points.
The 1917 Stanley Cup finalists, the Seattle Metropolitans and Montreal Canadiens
The Metropolitans repeated as PCHA champions in 1919 and once more were facing the Canadiens when the remainder of the finals were cancelled with the teams tied at two wins each, along with a tie, when an outbreak of Spanish Influenza sidelined the Canadiens and eventually claimed the life of Joe Hall. Prior to the series being suspended, Foyston had done his part for the Metropolitans with nine goals in the five games.
Foyston again topped a goal per game in 1919-20 with 26 goals in 23 games. His 30 total points were the second most in the league. Seattle met their rivals, the Vancouver Millionaires, in the playoffs for the third consecutive season, with the Millionaires prevailing to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against the mighty Ottawa Senators of the NHA. Ottawa would eventually out last the Metropolitans three games to two but not before the prolific Foyston scored 6 goals in 5 games.
The 1919 Stanley Cup engraving
For the final four seasons of the PCHA, Foyston remained among the leading scorers in the league, and led Seattle in scoring in 1921, 1923 and 1924 with a best of 26 goals and 30 points in 1920-21, but the Metropolitans failed to solve the Millionaires, later known as the Maroons from 1922-23, in three separate playoff series during that time.
With the demise of both the PCHA and the Metropolitans, Foyston joined the Victoria Cougars of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL), later simplified to the Western Hockey League (WHL).
Foyston while with the Victoria Cougars
While Foyston's offensive numbers would never reach the same levels as before, the Cougars were a successful team, defeating both Saskatoon and Calgary in the WCHL playoffs in 1925 to advance to face the Canadiens in a best-of-five final. The Cougars won the third Stanley Cup of Foyston's career by scores of 5-2, 3-1, 2-4 and 6-1. It was the only time since the start of the National Hockey League in 1917 that a team from outside the NHL would win the cup and would make Foyston one of only ten players to ever with the cup with three different teams.
1925 Stanley Cup champion Victoria Cougars
Prior to the 1925-26 season, Foyston retired from hockey only to return in time to play 12 games with the Cougars prior to the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, the third place Cougars repeated their feat from the year before, this time defeating Saskatoon and then Edmonton to win the WHL championship and reach the finals. They fell short this time, losing to the Montreal Maroons three games to one.
The WHL folded after the season and the players from Victoria were purchased for a new NHL club located in Detroit, Michigan, where the club was named the Cougars in honor of the team that supplied their first roster.
Foyston wearing the original sweater of the Detroit Cougars
He played the 1926-27 season with the Cougars in the NHL and then split time between the Cougars and the minor league Detroit Olympics as a player/coach in 1927-28. He remained with the Olympics in 1928-29 and stayed with the team in 1929-30 when they became charter members of the new International Hockey League for the final season of his long and distinguished career.
Foyston was one of the first players to ever score 200 goals, with 242 total career goals, led the PCHA in goal scoring twice and added 37 more playoff goals on his way to three Stanley Cups. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.
Today's featured jersey is a 1916-17 Seattle Metropolitans Frank Foyston jersey. The Metropolitans were the first team based in the United States to win the Stanley Cup. They were founded in 1915 and won five PCHA titles and one Stanley Cup before folding in 1924.
Their distinctive green, white and red barberpole jersey style is a classic from the early days of professional hockey.