The Philadelphia Quakers

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The Philadelphia Quakers were an American ice hockey team that played in the NHL during the 1930/1931 season. They wore black and orange uniforms and were based at the Philadelphia Arena. It was the successor franchise to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

How did the Quakers Start Up?

In 1930, struggling NHL franchise Pittsburgh Pirates, owned by a group headed by former boxer Benny Lenard relocated to Philadelphia and were renamed “Philadelphia Quakers”. The nickname “Quakers” reflected the importance of the Quaker religion in the founding of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. The Pirates had started up in 1925 but had descended into financial trouble stemming from low attendance and the Great Depression. The relocation was initially planned as a temporary measure to allow a new rig to be built since the Duquesne Gardens was outdated. The franchise was to return to Pittsburgh once the new stadium was completed.

Philadelphia Quakers in Competition

The Quakers started the 1930/1931 season in dismal form.Their first game was against the New York Rangers and they lost 3-0.They failed to score in their first three games and had to wait for their sixth game to get their first win, a 2-1 result versus Toronto Maple Leafs. Following that win, they went on a run of 15 consecutive defeats between November 25 and January 10, then an NHL record. This record remained intact for 44 years until Washington Capitals suffered 17 consecutive losses during the 1974/1975 season.

The Quaker’s next win came against Montreal Maroons by a 4-3 score line. With losses mounting, Leonard and Smeaton tried to shake up the team by blending in some young players with little success. Results remained dismal including a loss to minor league outfit Philadelphia Arrows in the Arena box office. The Quakers ended the season in last place with a 4-36-4 record. This represented a .136 winning percentage, the second worst ever in the history of the NFL. Only the Washington Capitals who had a .131 winning percentage in 1974/1976 top this unenviable record. With just 70 goals, the Quakers’ offense was the worst in the league as was their defense, which leaked in 184 goals.

Philadelphia Quakers’ Most Notable Moments

The Quakers’ first game was against the New York Rangers at the Philadelphia Arena. The team received a warm welcome from their new fans. It was a colorful affair as flags were hung from the arena’s ceiling and the team emerged with new black and orange uniforms. They lost the game 3-0 and the fans, frustrated with their team made caustic remarks. By the conclusion of the game, only 2000 out of 5000 who attended the game were left.

Philadelphia Quakers’ Most Notable Players

Syd Howe played on the left wing for the Philadelphia Quakers, on loan from Ottawa senators. That season, he made 44 appearances and scored 20 points. After the Quakers folded, he played for four other teams, most notably the Detroit Red Wings with whom he won the Stanley Cup three times. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965.

Herb Drury was a crucial figure in the Quakers defense. He had stayed on when the Pittsburg Pirates changed into the Philadelphia Quakers. During the 1924 Olympics, Drury helped the US hockey team reach the finals. He scored 22 goals and made 3 assists including the lone goal in the 6-1 loss to Canada in the final.

Hib Milks was a forward whose offensive talent was of great value to the Quakers. He scored a franchise high 17 goals in 44 appearances during the Quakers’ lone season in the NHL. Another significant player was Gerry Lowrey, who had the team’s best points return of 27.

What Happened to the Quakers?

The financial woes that that had crippled the team in Pittsburgh did not abate and their performance got even worse. The great depression had devastating effects on NHL franchises and the Quakers were in deep financial trouble. Match attendance was worrisome, averaging just 2500. That year the team lost US$ 100,000 on operations.

Following the conclusion of the 1930/1931 season, the Quakers were granted permission to halt operations temporarily and they announced that they would not field a team for the next season. They intended to return to the NHL after one season. After suspending operations at the beginning of each of the next five seasons, the franchise was officially cancelled in 1936 when it became evident that a new stadium would not be forthcoming.

In total, four NHL franchises folded that year leaving the league with six teams. Philadelphia was left without an NHL member team until 25 years later when the Philadelphia Flyers arrived.