New York Americans

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This article is about the 1923-1942 NHL team. For the 1931-1956 soccer team, see New York Americans (soccer). For the 1941 American football team, see New York Yankees (1940 AFL). For the ABA team originally known as the New York Americans, see Brooklyn Nets.
New York Americans
List of New York Americans seasons
Founded 1925
History New York Americans
1925–1941
Brooklyn Americans
1941–1942 (franchise canceled 1946)
Arena Madison Square Garden
City New York, New York
Colors Red, white, and blue
              

The New York Americans (colloquially known as the Amerks) were a professional ice hockey team based in New York, New York from 1925 to 1942. They were the third expansion team in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the second to play in the United States. The team never won the Stanley Cup, but reached the semifinals twice. While it was the first team in New York, it was eclipsed by the second, the New York Rangers, which arrived in 1926 under the ownership of the Amerks' landlord, Madison Square Garden. The team operated as the Brooklyn Americans during the 1941–42 season before suspending operations in 1942 due to the twin strains of World War II and longstanding financial difficulties. The demise of the club marked the beginning of the NHL's Original Six era from 1942 to 1967, though the Amerks' franchise was not formally canceled until 1946.

The team's overall regular season record was 255-402-127.

Franchise history[edit]

The 1925-26 New York Americans

In 1923, Thomas Duggan received options on three NHL franchises for the United States. After selling one to Boston grocery magnate Charles Adams, Duggan arranged with Tex Rickard to have a team in Madison Square Garden. Rickard agreed, but play was delayed until the new Garden was built in 1925. In April of that year, Duggan and Bill Dwyer, New York's most-celebrated prohibition bootlegger, were awarded the franchise for New York. Somewhat fortuitously given the shortage of players, the Hamilton Tigers, who had finished first the season before, had been suspended from the league after they struck for higher pay. However, the suspensions were quietly lifted in the offseason. Soon afterward, Dwyer duly bought the collective rights to the Tiger players for $75,000. He gave the players healthy raises—in some cases, double their 1924-25 salaries.

The New York Americans in 1929.

Just before the season, Dwyer announced his team would be named the "New York Americans." Their original jerseys were covered with stars and stripes, patterned after the American Flag.[1] Although he acquired the Tigers players, Dwyer didn't acquire the franchise; it was expelled from the league. As a result, the NHL does not consider the Americans to be a continuation of the Tigers—or for that matter, of the Tigers' predecessors, the Quebec Bulldogs. The Americans entered the league for the 1925–26 along with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Americans and Pirates became the second and third American-based teams in the NHL, following Adams' Boston Bruins, who began the previous season.

Success didn't come easily for the Americans. Even though their roster was substantively the same that finished first the previous year, in the Americans' first season they finished fifth overall with a record of 12-22-4. However, they did prove a success at the box office; so much so that the following season Garden management landed a team of its own, the New York Rangers, despite promising Dwyer that the Amerks would be the sole hockey team in the Garden. The Amerks were forced to support the bid due to a clause in their lease with the Garden.

1925-26 New York Americans game program cover for hockey at Madison Square Garden

The 1926–27 season saw the Americans continue to struggle, finishing 17-25-2. Part of the problem was that they were placed in the Canadian Division, resulting in a large number of train trips to Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Meanwhile, the Rangers won the American Division title. The next season saw the Americans fall even further from grace by finishing last in their division (ninth overall) with a record of 11-27-6, while the Rangers captured the Stanley Cup in only their second year of existence.

The 1927–28 NHL season saw the Amerks sign star goaltender Roy Worters from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He led the team to a 19-13-12 record in the 1928–29 NHL season, good enough for second in the Canadian Division (fourth overall). Worters had an incredible 1.21 goals-against average, becoming the first goaltender to win the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player in the league. Standing on Worters' shoulders, the Americans made the playoffs for the first time, but were unable to beat the Rangers in a total-goals series. The Rangers had extreme difficulty scoring against Worters, but the futile Americans were equally unable to score against the Rangers. The Rangers ended up winning the series in the second game, 1-0 in overtime.

The next season saw the Americans plunge to fifth place in the division (ninth overall). Worters had an atrocious 3.75 goals-against and the team ended up with a 14-25-5 record. Worters would rebound for the next season, with a 1.68 goals-against average. That was good enough to give the Americans a winning record. However, they missed out on a playoff berth since the Montreal Maroons had two more wins; wins are the NHL's first tiebreaker for playoff seeding.

The following season (1931–32) saw some developments that would change the way the NHL played the game. In a game against the Bruins, the Americans iced the puck 61 times. At that time, there was no rule against icing. Adams was so angry that he pressed, to no avail, for the NHL to make a rule against icing. So, the next time the two teams met, the Bruins iced the puck 87 times in a scoreless game. It wasn't until a few years later that the NHL made a rule prohibiting icing, but those two games were the catalyst for change.

New York Americans logo from 1926-1938.

Overall, the Americans were struggling on and off the ice. With the end of Prohibition, Dwyer was finding it difficult to make ends meet. After the 1933–34 NHL season, having missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year, the Americans attempted a merger with the equally strapped Senators, only to be turned down by the NHL Board of Governors. During the 1935–36 NHL season, Dwyer finally decided to sell the team. As fortunes would have it, the Americans made the playoffs for the first time in six years that season, but bowed out in the second round against Toronto. No buyers were found for the team, and Dwyer abandoned it, causing the NHL to assume control for the 1936–37 NHL season. Dwyer sued the NHL, saying it had no authority to seize his team. A settlement was reached whereby Dwyer could resume control provided he could pay off his debts. After the 1936-37 season, Dwyer could not do so, and the NHL took full control of the franchise. The team fared no better under the league's operation than before, finishing last with a record of 15-29-4. The only bright spot was Sweeney Schriner, who led the league in scoring that year.

With Red Dutton running the team for the 1937–38 season, the Americans signed veterans Ching Johnson and Hap Day and acquired goalie Earl Robertson. These new acquisitions greatly helped the team as they finished the season with a 19-18-11 record and made the playoffs. In the playoffs, they beat the Rangers in three games, but went on to lose against the Chicago Black Hawks in three.

Team jersey, Hockey Hall of Fame

The Americans made the playoffs again in 1938–39 and 1939–40, but were bounced in the first round each time. Canada entered World War II in September, 1939, and some of the team's Canadian players left for military service. However, a large number of players entered the military in 1940–41. With a decimated roster, the Americans missed the playoffs with a horrible record of 8-29-11—the worst in franchise history. While the league's other teams were similarly hard-hit, Dutton was still bogged down by lingering debt from the Dwyer era. This debt, combined with the depletion of talent and wartime travel restrictions, forced Dutton to sell off his best players for cash. The Amerks were clearly living on borrowed time; it was only a matter of when, not if, they would fold.

At wit's end, Dutton changed the team's name for the 1941–42 NHL season to the Brooklyn Americans. He had every intent on moving the team to Brooklyn, but there was no arena in that borough suitable enough even for temporary use. As result, they continued to play their home games in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden while practicing in Brooklyn. They barely survived the season, finishing with a record of 16-29-3. After the season, the Amerks suspended operations for the war's duration. In 1945, a group emerged willing to build a new arena in Brooklyn.[2] However, in 1946, the NHL reneged on promises to reinstate the Amerks and canceled the franchise. Although Dutton had every intention of returning the Amerks to the ice after World War II, NHL records list the Amerks as having "retired" from the league in 1942.

The NHL would not expand beyond its remaining six teams until the 1967–68 season. Dutton, however, blamed the owners of Madison Square Garden (who also owned the Rangers) for pressuring the NHL to not reinstate the Americans. Dutton was so bitter that he purportedly swore the Rangers would never win a Stanley Cup again in his lifetime. This "curse" became reality as for more than fifty years, the Rangers went without a Cup. The Rangers wouldn't win another Cup until 1994, seven years after Dutton's death.

The last active New York Americans player was Pat Egan, who retired in 1951. The last active Brooklyn Americans player was Ken Mosdell, who retired in 1959.

The New York Metropolitan Area would not have a second NHL team again until the establishment of the New York Islanders in nearby Uniondale, New York, on Long Island, in the 1972–73 season. Like the Americans attempted to in their final years before their demise, the Islanders intend to move to Brooklyn, and have agreed to a deal to play at the Barclays Center starting in the 2015-16 season.

Season-by-season record[edit]

Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1925–26 36 12 20 4 28 68 89 361 fifth, NHL Out of Playoffs
1926–27 44 17 25 2 36 82 91 349 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1927–28 44 11 27 6 28 63 128 563 fifth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1928–29 44 19 13 12 50 53 53 486 second, Canadian Lost Quarterfinals (NY Rangers) 1-0
1929–30 44 14 25 5 33 113 161 372 fifth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1930–31 44 18 16 10 46 76 74 495 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1931–32 48 16 24 8 40 95 142 596 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1932–33 48 15 22 11 41 91 118 460 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1933–34 48 15 23 10 40 104 132 365 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1934–35 48 12 27 9 33 100 142 250 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1935–36 48 16 25 7 39 109 122 392 third, Canadian Won Quarterfinals (Chicago) 7-5
Lost Semifinals (Toronto) 2-1
1936–37 48 15 29 4 34 122 161 481 fourth, Canadian Out of Playoffs
1937–38 48 19 18 11 49 110 111 327 second, Canadian Won Quarterfinals (NY Rangers) 2-1
Lost Semifinals (Chicago) 2-1
1938–39 48 17 21 10 44 119 157 276 fourth, NHL Lost Quarterfinals (Toronto) 2-0
1939–40 48 15 29 4 34 106 140 236 sixth, NHL Lost Quarterfinals (Detroit) 2-1
1940–41 48 8 29 11 27 99 186 231 seventh, NHL Out of Playoffs
1941–42 48 16 29 3 35 133 175 425 seventh, NHL Out of Playoffs
Totals 784 255 402 127 637 1643 2182 6665

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Notable players[edit]

Hall of Famers[edit]

Team captains[edit]

Coaches[edit]

Head Coaches for the New York Americans:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • New York Americans
  • Coleman, Charles (1966). Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol I., 1893–1926 inc. Kendall/Hunt. 
  • Frayne, Trent (1974). The Mad Men of Hockey. New York, New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. ISBN 0-396-07060-4. 
  1. ^ "The Birth of the Rangers". nhl.com. Retrieved 2014-06-03. 
  2. ^ Fullerton, Hugh (May 2, 1945). "May Build Arena in Brooklyn Arena". Montreal Gazette. p. 16.