The PCHL was created in 1912 by brothers Frank Patrick and his brother Lester Patrick, fine players in their own right. Thanks to their family fortune amassed in the lumber business, the Patricks not only founded the league, but constructed new arenas in both Victoria (capacity 4,000) and Vancouver which seated a staggering 10,000 fans, with both arenas complete with artificial ice making capabilities. In comparison, in 1911 the arenas of the established National Hockey Association in the populations centers back east were The Arena in Ottawa at 4,500 and the Montreal Arena with 4,300 seats.
The brothers then formed three teams for their fledgling new league, the New Westminster Royals, the Victoria Cougars (which was operated by Lester) and the Vancouver Millionaires, which was run by Frank.
The league then began to stock their rosters by raiding the rosters of the established clubs back east, luring Harry Hyland away from the Montreal Wanderers, Tommy Dunderdale away from the Quebec Bulldogs and no less than Newsy Lalonde away from the Montreal Canadiens, who would be placed on the Millionaires roster along with Tommy Phillips, who had won a Stanley Cup with the Kenora Thistles back in 1907 - all future Hockey Hall of Famers.
Lalonde and Phillips were placed on the Millionaires roster along with Frank Patrick, who was still a long way from hanging up his skates. Lalonde would win the PCHA scoring title with 27 goals in 15 games played, with Frank fourth at 23, Sibby Nichols sixth with 19 and Phillips next with 17.
The Millionaires would finish second in the evenly balanced league with a 7-8 record.
While Lalonde would return to the Canadiens, the Patricks responded by luring the biggest draw in hockey, Fred "Cyclone" Taylor to the Millionaires for the 1912-13 season. Carl Kendall would lead the Millionaires in scoring with 16 goals in 16 games, good for second in the league behind Dunderdale and closely followed by Frank Patrick's 15. Taylor and Fred Harris of Vancouver would finish with 14 goals, tied for fifth in the league with Lester Patrick of Victoria.
The Millionaires would again finish second with a 7-9 record, behind Victoria rather than New Westminster this time out.
For 1913-14, the innovative Patricks would introduce the blue line to hockey and Taylor would lead the Millionaires in scoring, fifth in the league with 18 goals in 15 games as Vancouver trailed the pack with a 6-9 record. Still, Millionaires players Nichols, Harris and new arrival Didier Pitre (from the Canadiens) tied for 7th in scoring, each with 13 and Frank Patrick tenth with 10.
Following the PCHA season, the Victoria Aristocrats then became the first team from the PCHA to be allowed to challenge for the Stanley Cup, giving the league the level of credibility it desired.
The 1914-15 season saw the Millionaires take the league title for the first time with a dominant 13-4 record backstopped by new goaltender and future Hall of Famer Hughie Lehman, which earned them the right to take on the Ottawa Senators for the Stanley Cup. With the Millionaires enjoying a home ice advantage in the series, the easily won the best-of-five by scores of 6-2, 8-3 and then a triumphant 12-3 to become the first team from the west coast to win the cup. Lehman would then remain with the franchise for the remainder of it's time in Vancouver.
Aside from Taylor, Lehman and Frank Patrick, other notable members of the 1915 Stanley Cup champion Millionaires included Hall of Famers Mickey MacKay, Barney Stanley, Frank Nighbor and team captain Silas Griffiths. Not a bad ratio having 7 Hall of Famers on a roster of 11 players!
Going forward, the Millionaires Gordon Roberts would lead the PCHA in scoring in 1916-17, Taylor in 1917-18 and 1918-19, Jack Adams and MacKay would go 1-2 in 1912-22 and Art Duncan in 1923-24, the final year of the PCHA.
The Millionaires would win the PCHA playoffs in 1918, losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in the deciding fifth game to Toronto 2-1, win the playoff again in 1921, again losing in the deciding fifth game 2-1, this time to the Ottawa Senators, who were now members of the new National Hockey League, which replaced the old NHA.
In 1921-22 the Millionaires again won the PCHA playoffs and then defeated Regina of the Western Canada Hockey League for the right to face the Toronto St. Pats, who outlasted the Millionaires 3 games to 2.
For the 1922-23 season, the Millionaires changed their name to the Vancouver Maroons but continued their winning ways, taking not only the regular season title, but the PCHA playoffs as well. They then lost to the Ottawa Senators 3 games to 1 for the right to face the WCHL champions for the cup.
The Maroons won their fourth consecutive PCHA playoff title, but lost to first Calgary of the WCHL and then to the Montreal Canadiens.
The remaining two teams of the PCHA, Vancouver and Victoria, joined the WCHL, now just the WHL for the 1924-25 season as the PCHA was no more. The Maroons finished 5th out of 6 that season and came to a sorry end in 1925-26 with a last place finish in their final season.
The WHL folded following the 1925-26 season and the contracts of the Maroons players were purchased by the NHL, closing the door on the Vancouver Millionaires story. It would be 44 years before top level professional hockey would return to Vancouver with the arrival of the Vancouver Canucks in 1970.
Today's featured jersey is a 1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires Hughie Lehman jersey. The Millionaires sweaters went through some subtle changes during their history, but essentially retained a maroon jersey with a bold, white V on the front for their entire run. The peak of the sweater history came in 1914-15 when the bold V on the front included the word Vancouver contained inside, paired with multi-strpied arms, which coincided with the peak of their on-ice success when they won the only Stanley Cup of their existence.
Bonus jersey: Today's Bonus jersey is a 2008-09 Vancouver Giants throwback 1915 Vancouver Millionaires jersey as worn on November 21, 2008 when the Giants held a "Stanley Cup Legends Night". The Millionaires won their only Stanley Cup in 1915 wearing the original version of this jersey.