Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Pacific Coast Hockey League was founded in 1911 by Frank and Lester Patrick. After three seasons the league expanded into the United States for the first time with the addition of the Portland Rosebuds, who were joined the following season by the Seattle Metropolitans.
The Metropolitans finished third in the four team league with a 9-9 record. They were led in scoring by Bernie Morris, who scored 23 goals and 9 assists in the 18 game schedule while Harry "Hap" Holmes held down the goaltending duties.
During the Metropolitans second season, Morris again led the club in scoring with a stellar 37 goals and 17 assists for 54 points in 24 games to lead the league in scoring as Seattle edged the Vancouver Millionaires to the regular season title with a 16-8 record. Additionally, Holmes led all goalkeepers that season with a 3.3o goals against average, well over a goal better than his next closest competition.
Unlike the Eastern National Hockey Association, which held a post season playoff to determine the league champion, Seattle advanced to the Stanley Cup Final simply by virtue of finishing first.
The 1917 Stanley Cup finalists, the Seattle Metropolitans and the Montreal Canadiens
The Metropolitans hosted the defending cup holders, the Montreal Canadiens, in a best of five series at the Seattle Ice Arena. The Canadiens defeated Seattle 8-4 in Game 1 held under PCHA rules as Didier Pitre scored four times for Montreal.
Game 2, held under NHA rules, saw the Metropolitans even the series with a dominant 6-1 win. Alternating back to PCHA rules, Seattle and Holmes again held Montreal to a single goal while Seattle scored 4 to take a 2-1 series lead.
Held on this date in 1917, Game 3 was all Seattle. Morris alone outscored Montreal, and by a wide margin, as he scored 6 of the Metropolitans goals as they won going away by a score of 9-1 to become the first team based in the United States to win the Stanley Cup in it's 24 year history. During the series Morris would account for 14 of Seattle's 23 goals.
The following season the Metropolitans would finish first overall during the regular season with an 11-7 record, but would lose their hold on the Stanley Cup when they were defeated in the newly instituted PCHA playoffs.
They turned the tables in 1918-19 by defeating the Millionaires to advance to the 1919 finals. Tragically, after the series with the Canadiens was tied at 2-2-1, several of the players from Montreal fell ill with the Spanish Influenza, which caused the cancellation of the remainder of the series and would claim the life of Montreal's Joe Hall.
The 1919 Stanley Cup engraving
The 1919-20 PCHA season was extraordinarily tight, with the Metropolitans finishing first with a 12-10 record to the Millionaires 11-11 and the Victoria Aristocrats 10-12. Seattle again won the PCHA playoff and qualified for the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in four years, but came up short in five games against the Ottawa Senators.
Seattle finished with a 12-11-1 record in 1920-21 and missed out on a chance to return to the Stanley Cup Finals with a loss in the PCHA playoff. Parity again reigned in 1921-22 as Seattle finished first at 12-11-1 over the Millionaires at 12-12 and Victoria just behind at 11-12-1.
With games against teams from the Western Canada Hockey League counting in the PCHA standings, the Metropolitans finished last in the league despite a .500 record of 15-15.
The same system was in place for the 1923-24 season, and with the WCHL teams having improved since the previous season, Seattle oddly finished with the first losing record in franchise history at 14-16, yet finished first overall in the PCHA, ahead of Vancouver's 13-16-1 mark.
Seattle lost the two-game, total-goals playoff with Vancouver 4-3, which would turn out to be the final game for the Metropolitans, as the Seattle Ice Arena owners did not renew the team's lease, which led to the club ceasing operations, which in turn brought a close to the PCHA.
During their nine year run, Frank Foyston would lead the club in scoring with 139 goals and 163 points, followed by Morris with 139 points. Holmes would lead the PCHA in goaltending five times in the six years he was a member of the Metropolitans, including four in a row from 1918-19 to 1921-22.
Today's featured jersey is a 1916-17 Seattle Metropolitans Bernie Morris jersey as worn when he scored six goals in the Metropolitans Stanley Cup clinching goal on this date in 1917.
The Metropolitans would wear a barberpole style jersey throughout their history with minor variations to their "S" crest until 1921, when the word "Seattle" diagonally across the chest.
Morris first played for a number of senior level teams prior to joining the Victoria Aristocrats of the PCHA in 1914-15. He then joined Seattle for eight years. In 1923-24 he was traded to the Calgary Tigers of the WCHL and played there for a season and a half before moving east to become a member of the brand new Boston Bruins of the NHL for six games. After being released by the Bruins, Morris returned to the WCHL and became a member of the Regina Capitals. He played the final five seasons of his hockey career with a variety of teams in a series of minor leagues.