The Montreal Maroons

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The Montreal Maroons were a professional Canadian ice hockey team that played in the NHL from 1924 to 1938. The team’s home games were played at the Montreal Forum, which was the first large NHL stadium in Montreal.

How did the Maroons Start up?

In 1924, Montreal was still recovering from the loss of the Montreal Wanderers who had folded following a fire that consumed their rig in 1918. The city was awarded an expansion franchise by the NHL alongside the city of Boston. The Montreal franchise tried to acquire the rights to the Wanderers name but were thwarted. They picked the name Maroons as a reference to the color of their sweaters. The Canadiens were initially against the new franchise but they relented when they were paid $11,000 for infringement of territory.

The Montreal Maroons in Competition

The Maroons were a major force to reckon with on the ice. They won two Stanley Cup trophies and featured regularly in the playoffs, only failing to appear three times in fourteen years. During their first season in play, 1924/1925, the Maroons posted a 9-19-2 record for a fifth place finish. The next season, the Maroons made the playoffs after finishing second with a 20-115 record. They then defeated the Pittsburg Penguins in the playoffs before dispatching the Ottawa Senators in the Championship game. In the Stanley Cup, they beat the Victoria Cougars in four games.

After exiting their Stanley cup defense at the playoffs in the 1926/27 season, they would be back in 1927/28. Having finished second in the division, they swept aside the Ottawa Senators 3-1 and then the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs to reach the Stanley Cup. However, they were beaten in five games by the New York Americans. They missed the 1928/29 playoffs and then had to wait until the 1934/35 season to make another Stanley Cup appearance. This time, they swept the Toronto Maple Leafs in four straight games to claim their second Stanley Cup Championship. They topped the Canadian Division in the 1935/36 season with a solid 22-16-10 record. In the semifinals, they were brushed aside3-0 by the Detroit Red Wings. Another semifinal exit to the New York Rangers in 1936/37 was followed by a dismal last place finish with a 12-30-6 record. That would be the club’s last season in Montreal as they folded soon after.

Montreal Maroons most Notable Moments

In game 1 of the 1935/36 semifinals, the Montreal Maroons faced off fiercely with the Detroit Red Wings. The game went into 6 overtime period as neither team managed to break the deadlock. The game ran for more than 116 minutes before the Red Wings’ Mud Bruneteau scored the winning goal, making it the longest NHL game ever played.

Maroons duels with the Canadiens made for some of the most ill tempered games of hockey. During the period the two clubs shared a host city, no two teams ever brawled more often. Quite commonly, fights would spread to the crowd and even reporters covering each side. This would then boil over into the papers as rival reporters wrote mean spirited articles about the other team.

Montreal Maroons most Notable Players

Nels Stewart played center for the Maroons from 1925 to 1932. His most memorable season with the Maroons would have to be 1925/26 when he scored all 10 goals in a four game Stanley Cup win over the Victoria Cougars.

Goalie Clint Benedict (1924-1930) was an important factor in the Maroons defense during their Stanley Cup years. In the 1926 Stanley Cup series he recorded three shutouts to help the Maroons win the title.

Other notable players include Lionel Conacher, Red Dutton, Babe Siebert, Hooley Smith and Punch Broadbent.

What Happened to the Montreal maroons?

The great depression had taken its toll on many North American sports franchises. The two Montreal teams, Maroons and Canadiens were among the worst hit. The Maroons had the league’s worst attendance during three straight years from 1934 to 1936. The team was in financial trouble and this forced them to sell their star players periodically. This further compounded matters by compromising performances on the pitch. By 1935, the Canadiens and Maroons shared the same ownership and it was obvious to them that both clubs could not coexist in the same city. Following the 1937/38 season, rumors abounded that the team would be relocated.

The truth was much worse however as the club ownership requested to suspend operations for one year citing financial trouble. After the suspension request was granted, several attempts were made to sell the team to parties in St. Louis but the NHL blocked them since relocation costs to Missouri would be too high. A final attempt at reviving the team was made by Canadiens board member Len Peto who took control of the dormant franchise and tried to move it to Philadelphia. A suitable arena however was not available and the plans fell through. In 1946, with no forthcoming solution, the team was officially dissolved.