Overview of the Hamilton Tigers Franchise

Overview of the Hamilton Tigers NHL Franchise

The return of the Quebec Bulldogs (formerly a Stanley Cup winning NHA team) to the city of Quebec for the 1919-20 season ended in failure. Despite having the league's scoring leader (39 goals) "The Phantom" Joe Malone in the line-up, the Bulldogs only managed a pathetic four wins in 24 games. And so the team was put up for sale.

As it happened, a group from Hamilton, Ontario were interested in bringing a pro team to the city to play in a new artificial-ice arena. They were the owners of the Abso-pure Ice Company, and shortly before the start of the 1920-21 season, they succeeded in making the deal with the Quebec owners, and purchased the franchise for $5,000.

The new professional team was heartily received by hockey fans, who on opening night came to the Barton Street Arena somewhere around 6,500 strong to watch their team (minus Joe Malone) trounce an unconditioned Montreal Canadiens team 5-0.

Although the line-up was bolstered by additions from each of the other three teams, the Tigers quickly began to falter. By the end of the first season, the team managed only six more wins, and finished last place.

The following three seasons saw the Tigers finish dead last each time, although by the 1923-24 season they had worked their way up to nine wins.

The 1924-25 season saw a complete transformation: unlike in other seasons when the team managed a few good early season wins and then fizzled, this year the Tigers could not stop winning and fought their way to the top of the standings. Hamiltonians were ecstatic: after four years of disappointment, suddenly the city had a Stanley Cup contender.

But as the season drew to a close, there was growing discord among the Tigers' players: not at one another, but at management. The players were not being compensated for the extra time they were playing (an earlier training camp, as well as six more games than before, and now at least two play-off games) and they wanted something done about it. Thus they justifiably went on strike, but this quickly failed and led to the team's suspension from post-season play.

Over time, all of the players involved went to the league on their hands and knees begging for forgiveness, and eventually all were re-instated. But none would return to the league as Hamilton Tigers, for in yet another act of injustice the league decided that the city of Hamilton no longer deserved an NHL franchise and the team was sold to some American bootlegger for $75,000.

Renamed the New York Americans, the franchise continued to exist until the 1941-42 season, at the end of which it went defunct leaving the NHL with only six teams.

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