Wednesday, November 11, 2015

1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers Bill Hutton Jersey

On this date back in 1930, NHL hockey made it's debut in the City of Brotherly Love, as the Philadelphia Quakers took to the ice for the first time - a 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers.

Quakers opening night ad photo Quakers opening night ad.jpg
An advertisement for the Quakers opening night

The team had relocated from their previous home in Pittsburgh, where they were known as the Pirates and suffered from both dismal play on the ice, a 5-36-3 record in 1929-30, and understandably dismal attendance, with the Pirates averaging 2,718 per game, while the second worst Chicago Black Hawks were at 3,432 and the Boston Bruins leading the league at 13,387 in 1928-29.

The owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates were $400,000 in debt and, needing a new arena in Pittsburgh, asked permission to temporarily relocate the team to Philadelphia for the 1930-31 season until a new arena could be constructed in Pittsburgh.

1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers team photo 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers team.jpg
The 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers

The Quakers were nothing short of a disaster. It wasn't until the third game of the season that they managed to score their first goal. They would not win a game until November 25th, their sixth game. That was followed by a 15 game winless streak which included all of December, with the low point being a very uncharitable 8-0 loss in Boston on Christmas day.

1931 got off to a bad start with a 10-3 loss to Chicago on New Year's Day on their way to a 1-11-1 record for January. They had a light schedule in February and the season concluded in March as Philadelphia posted identical 1-5-1 records over the last two months of the season. They completed their season with a record of 4 wins, 36 losses and 4 ties and their .136 winning percentage was an NHL record low that would stand for 45 years. As one would assume with a record such as that, the Quakers finished the season the fewest goals scored and gave up the most goals against in the NHL for the year.

Gerry Lowrey was the team's leading scorer with 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points in 42 games while Hib Milks led the team in goals with 17. Joe Miller (12 games) and Wilf Cude (30) shared the goaltending duties, with each getting 2 of the 4 total wins. Jake Forbes played back to back games in goal in mid-January for the remaining two games of their 44 game schedule.

1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers team photo 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers team collage.jpg

Making matters worse for the Quakers, they had competition from the Philadelphia Arrows of the Can-Am Hockey League, who had a three season head start on the Quakers, with whom they shared the Philadelphia Arena.

The one notable player for the Quakers was Syd Howe who started his career with the Ottawa Senators. He then played for the Philadelphia Quakers before moving on to the Toronto Maple Leafs for one season. Howe next rejoined the Ottawa Senators and then moved with them when they relocated and became the St. Louis Eagles before joining the Detroit Red Wings for 12 seasons. Syd, no relation to Gordie Howe, would retire as the NHL's leading scorer with 237 goals and 291 assists for 528 points when he retired in 1946.

Syd Howe, the most notable of the Quakers

Rather than move back to Pittsburgh for the next season as originally hoped, the owners did not field a team anywhere in 1931-32. Finally after five non-playing seasons during the heart of the depression, the owners officially cancelled their franchise when a new arena was never constructed in either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia.

During the era of the depression, four of the ten NHL clubs would fold, leaving what is now known as "The Original Six". Aside from the Pittsburgh Pirates/Philadelphia Quakers who dropped out of the league in 1931, the Ottawa Senators/St. Louis Eagles ceased operations in 1935, the Montreal Maroons folded in 1938 and New York Americans would fall by the wayside in 1942.

NHL hockey would not return to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh until the Great Expansion of 1967 with the arrival of the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, both of whom would eventually go on to  win the Stanley Cup.

Today's featured jersey is a 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers Bill Hutton jersey from their only season in the NHL. Hutton was a defenseman who joined the Quakers during the season and played in 21 of their 44 games.

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