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On This Date in Sports December 19, 1917: NHL's Opening Faceoff

In collaboration with the


The NHL begins its inaugural season with the league’s four teams paired off in two games. At the Montreal Arena, the Montreal Wanderers beat the Toronto franchise unofficially called the Arenas 10-9. Meanwhile, in Ottawa at Dey’s Arena, the Montreal Canadiens beat the Ottawa Senators 7-4. The NHL’s first season was rocky as the Wanderers' season ended after six games due to a fire leaving the league to finish with three teams.

 The National Hockey League was formed out of the ashes of the National Hockey Association after a series of meeting in Montreal a month earlier. The league was composed of five teams, though the Quebec Bulldogs took a year off due to financial troubles.

The Montreal Wanderers, one of the two teams to win on the league’s first night, would not win another game, as they lost their next five games and were forced to cease operations after a fire destroyed their arena on January 2, 1918. The first NHL season was a split season, as the Canadiens won the first half, while the Toronto club won the second-half title.

The winners of the two half-season standings would meet for the O’Brien Cup, which was previously given to the winner of the NHA. The winner of the series would play the winner of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association for the Stanley Cup. The Canadiens and Arenas, as the press called them, would play a two-game aggregate scoring series. Toronto won the opener at the Mutual Street Arena 7-4, while Montreal won at Jubilee Arena 4-3. With the total goal advantage going to Toronto 10-7.

The Toronto Arenas would win the Stanley Cup, beating the Vancouver Millionaires in a best-of-five game series 3-2. The series was played in Toronto, with the games alternating between NHL rules and PCHA rules. The PCHA rules differed in that instead of five skaters and a goalie; they had six skaters and a goalie.