Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What if the Montreal Maroons Never Folded?

During the 1923-24 season the NHL consisted of just four member clubs, the Hamilton Tigers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and the Toronto St. Patricks. For the 1924-25 season, the league expanded by two when the Boston Bruins, the first club based in the United States, and the Montreal Maroons, were admitted to the league, the Maroons founded as a replacement team for the English speaking community in Montreal following the demise of the Montreal Wanderers who had folded four games into the inaugural 1917-18 NHL season when the Montreal Arena burnt down.

The 1924-25 Montreal Maroons

The Maroons were based out of the brand new Montreal Forum, which was built specifically for them, only to have their rival Montreal Canadiens take the honors of playing the first game in the new arena due to the poor ice conditions in their home rink, the Mount Royal Arena, which did not have the capability to produce artificial ice.

After finding their way through their first season with a 9-19-2 record, the second year Maroons went 20-11-5 to finish second in the league before defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates and then the first place Ottawa Senators to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Victoria Cougars of the PCHA, who they defeated 3 games to 1 to capture the Stanley Cup in only their second season of play.

1926montrealmaroons Pictures, Images and Photos
The 1925-26 Stanley Cup champion Montreal Maroons

Nine seasons later in 1935 they played for they swept the regular season champion Toronto Maple Leafs in three straight games to claim their second Stanley Cup championship, but despite their success, the Great Depression affected the Maroons and they finished with the lowest attendance in the league three years in a row, as the English community in Montreal was considerably smaller than the French community.

1935-36 Montreal Maroons
The 1934-35 Stanley Cup champion Montreal Maroons

By the time the 1937-38 season started, there were rumors the tam would be moving to a new city, but the club remained in Montreal and suffered through their worst year since their inaugural season, playing the final game in their history on this date in 1938, losing 6-3 to the Canadiens to finish 12-30-6, after 14 seasons and two championships.

But what if the Montreal Maroons had never folded?

We don't make a habit of posting NHL jersey concepts here at Third String Goalie since there are several websites that specialize in being the home for jersey concepts, and do a fine job of it, but  we came across a set of concepts unlike any we had ever seen before that really caught our eye for their creativity and sense of history.

The idea behind this set of concepts was "What if the Montreal Maroons had never folded?", which was proposed by John Baranowski, a member of the Chris Creamer's Sports Logos Community who goes by "hockey week".

Here is John's look at the history of the Montreal Maroons and would could have been - had they survived past 1938.

What if the Montreal Maroons never folded? Both Montreal franchises were owned by the same people, and as the depression wore on, they had to make a decision as to which team to keep. What if they found a partner to finance the team? This is a history of one of the NHL's Original Seven franchises.

First, I lift directly from nhluniforms.com, so that the entire history is present and you can see my thought process. These are not my images, but those of The Hockey Uniform Database: 
 photo Maroons 1924-25.png
 photo Maroons 1925-29.png
 photo Maroons 1929-31.png
 photo Maroons 1931-35.png 
Maroons 1935-38 photo Maroons 1935-38.png
Now here is where the real Maroons folded. Imagine if the team kept going. The following are my own images. 
1938-41 The Maroons follow the rest of the league and switch from the old leather-colored pants. They adopt black, considering it to be neutral and fitting.
Montreal Maroons 1938-41 photo MontrealMaroons1938-41.jpg
1941-45 Following the lead of the Detroit Red Wings, the team of Quebec's English-Canadians adopts the poppy flower of Flanders' Fields and the Union Jack, which was featured prominently on all Canadian WWII posters. Supporting the War Effort of the Crown became a major selling point.
 photo MontrealMaroons1941-45.jpg
1945-48 As with all of the Original Seven teams, jersey tweaks happened often as new sets were bought. The Maroons would lose their white cuffs, as well as the serifs on the logo, when they lost their wartime patches.
 photo MontrealMaroons1945-48.jpg
1948-49 With the Rangers dropping their front-numbered design, and the assurance that it would not be coming back, the Maroons ownership jumped on the idea. It would also be the first integration of black in the sweaters, though it did not turn out quite how the ownership wanted. 
Montreal Maroons 1948-49 photo MontrealMaroons1948-49.jpg
1949-53 The black would be better integrated in between the northwestern stripes on the sleeves. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1949-53.jpg
1953-58 The last team to do so, the Maroons were forced to create a road white sweater. Though they had lasted so long with their unique color, television made a differentiation necessary. They would simply swap maroon for white in all cases. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1953-58.jpg
1958-61 The Maroons get into a more classic groove, reaching into the past similar to what the Bruins were doing. The logos return, lace-ups are added, and the stripes on the white sweater change. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1958-61.jpg
1961-72 White shoulders outlined by black, a unique trait to the NHL and beneficial for television, were added to the maroon sweaters. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1961-72.jpg
1972-74 The Maroons obviously conform to the white-at-home and name-on-back rules. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1972-74.jpg
1974-82 The Maroons go wild, similar to the Leafs and Rangers at the time, adopting shoulder stripes, but kept unique ideas with stripes-on-shoulder-stripes, and try out maroon pants. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1974-82.jpg
1982-91 Following the weight of the 1980s, more black is integrated into the uniform, the pants go back to normal, and the whole thing is toned down just a little bit...just a little. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1982-1991.jpg
1991-92 The NHL's 75th Anniversary celebration inspires the Maroons to go back to the classics, along with new classic sweaters, a throwback to 1929 is used for games against the Original Seven teams, just as those teams did. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1991-92.jpg
1992-95 The team keeps its classic look, but drops the alternate like the rest of the Original Seven.
 photo MontrealMaroons1992-1995.jpg
1995-96 The third jersey rocks the NHL, and the Maroons wouldn't be left out. They introduce a black jersey with multiple fades, diagonal lines, and a skewed logo. It was panned by the fans, and hated by the players. They quietly drop it after the season. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1995-96.jpg
1996-2002 The team drops the third jersey and keeps the classic look. 
 photo MontrealMaroons1996-2002.jpg
2002-07 Black-for-black's-sake is sweeping the league, and the Maroons give it a shot. A snazzy jersey, though not always appropriate for a team named "the Maroons", it sells well, and they use it until the Edge switchover. Also, lace-up collars are back in vogue, and the Maroons bring it back. 
 photo MontrealMaroons2002-2007.jpg
2007-10 The RBK Edge switchover takes the league, and the Maroons are rather apt to listen, just like the Leafs. They lose the hemline stripes, and add front numbers along the hem, as seen in past All-Star Games. 
 photo MontrealMaroons2007-10copy.jpg
2010-present The Maroons are noticing the league-wide cry for heritage, and are bringing back their usual look in the Edge format. 
 photo MontrealMaroons2010-.jpg
So there you have it, my historical look at the Montreal Maroons in an alternate history. I tried to follow what the Original Six teams did, because they followed a slightly different drummer than the rest of the fast-changing league. I used the NHL Uniforms template to keep it looking consistent and add a bit more believability to it.

Now that was a fun ride! We really like how John explains the changes in styles with an awareness of what other teams were actually doing as time passes.

Highlights for us are how he introduces a second sweater in 1953 due to the Maroons unique color, but we really love the beautiful 1958-61 jerseys.

He then hits the mark by bringing back the 1929 jersey as their Turn Back the Clock jersey for 1991-92 rather than creating something new, as all the Original 6 clubs revived an old sweater for the NHL's 75th Anniversary season. He also gets points for creating something odd for the arrival of the third jersey craze of the late 1990's, and even more points for dropping it quickly!

He's also spot on with his thoughts on the transition to the Edge jerseys of 2007, as horizontal stripes were on the outs with Reebok, only to have them return a short time later for a more traditional look.

Big thanks to John for letting us reprint his work and we hope you liked the trip through time with John's creativity as our guide.

1 comment:

  1. This is pretty much right on the money. If he add trims around the logo, and the numbers (from 70's to present) these would be perfect!


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