We are facing a pandemic with a huge effect on every mass event in the world, but this isn’t the first time this is happening. The Stanley Cup is quite an old event and it was already a big deal when the Spanish Flu hit, back in 1918.
By January of 1918, the Spanish flu had made its way into North America, and in October it had already taken the life of an NHL star named Hamby Shore. But far from stopping there, the flu kept on claiming the lives of athletes across North America and Canada in particular.
Still, the NHL didn’t want to give up on the season, and it resorted to advising fans with the all-too-familiar precautions of washing their hands, eating right, and using natural help. Avoiding crowds and people with symptoms of cold, was also advised, and places like bowling alleys were closed.
Different Times, Different Measures
While sports and mass events were being cancelled left and right, the NHL decided to go through with the season. One of the reasons is that, back then, the crowds around hockey games were not as significant as they are today, with as little as 90 fans showing up for Ottawa games.
By December 21, only three teams played during just 10 game-halves, starting the first half of the season with victories by The Canadiens. Now it was Toronto, the defending champions, who were having to struggle through to keep the title, but they played well.
Frank Calder, who was the moment’s NHL President convinced Arenas to allow them the 18th game, finishing the regular season right there and then. Finally, it was decided that Ottawa would play against Montreal for a spot in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the Stanley Cup final.
Montreal did end up winning against Seattle but at a high cost. Joe Hall, their defenseman, had collapsed on the ice starting the game. Although this was bad enough, it is not as bad as it got, since both teams had players show symptoms of the flu.
The Canadiens had a harder time with even their team’s general manager, George Kennedy, hospitalized.
After much turmoil, the season was completely cancelled, as Seattle would not want to win by forfeit from Montreal, and Montreal simply could not play. Joe Hall went down in history for having had an amazing season despite it being agonizing, quite literally.
The Stanley Cup registered this with the engravement of Series not Completed and we thought that might be the case with 2020’s Cup as well. At IPGWIN, we are glad this pandemic didn’t manage to hit as hard and we have a winner already.