St. Louis Eagles

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St. Louis Eagles
1934–35 St. Louis Eagles season
Founded 1934
History Ottawa Senators
1883–1934

St. Louis Eagles
1934–1935

Home arena St. Louis Arena
City St. Louis, Missouri
Colors Red, White, and Blue
Owner(s) Ottawa Auditorium

The St. Louis Eagles were a professional ice hockey team and a former member of the National Hockey League (NHL) based in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles existed for only one year, playing in the 1934–35 NHL season.

The team was originally founded in 1883 as the Ottawa Senators, a successful independent team that joined the NHL as a charter member in 1917. From the mid-1920s onward, they endured financial strain caused in part by being in the NHL's smallest market. The financial problems forced the Senators to suspend operations for the 1931–32 season. Upon their return to play – and having sold their better players in an effort to raise funds – the Senators finished in last place for two straight seasons and continued to lose money. Following the repeat last place finish, the team decided it could not survive in Ottawa and hoped to move to a bigger market.

In an attempt to recoup losses and pay outstanding debts, the Senators moved the NHL franchise to St. Louis, where it was nicknamed the Eagles. However, the team continued to bleed money due to travel expenses, and it was forced to make ends meet by selling players to other teams. After the season, the owners asked the NHL for a second time for permission to suspend operations. This time, the NHL refused the request. Instead, the league bought back the franchise, halted its operations and dispersed its players among the remaining teams.

History[edit]

The move from Ottawa[edit]

Thomas Franklin Ahearn, former president of the Ottawa Auditorium

The Ottawa Senators were founded in 1883 as an amateur club. They began paying their players "under the table" in 1903 and turned openly professional in 1907.[1][2] They were a charter member of the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1917, and won the Stanley Cup four times in the NHL's first decade (and seven times prior to the league's formation – including their time as the Silver Seven).[3][4]

However, for the better part of their tenure in Ottawa, the Senators played in the smallest market in the NHL. The 1931 census listed only 110,000 people in the city of Ottawa—roughly one-fifth the size of Toronto—which was the league's second-smallest market. The team started having attendance problems when the NHL expanded to the United States in 1924; games against the new American teams did not draw well.[5] Despite winning what would be its last Stanley Cup in 1927, the team lost $50,000 for the season.[6] The Senators asked the NHL for permission to suspend operations for the 1931–32 season in order to help eliminate debt. The league granted the request and during their suspended season Ottawa received $25,000 for the use of its players, while the NHL co-signed a Bank of Montreal loan of $28,000 for the franchise.[7] The Senators returned for the 1932–33 season and finished in last place.[6] They finished last again in 1933–34 season. After the season, the Ottawa Auditorium, owners of the Senators, announced that the team would be moving elsewhere for the next season due to losses of $60,000 over the previous two seasons. Auditorium officials said they needed to move the Senators to a larger city in order to protect the shareholders and pay off their debts.[8]

The Senators' owners ultimately decided to move the franchise to St. Louis, Missouri and the transfer was approved by the league on May 14, 1934. Thomas Franklin Ahearn resigned as president of the Ottawa Auditorium and Redmond Quain became president. Quain transferred the players' contracts and franchise operations to a new company called the Hockey Association of St. Louis, Inc. Eddie Gerard was hired to coach the new team.[9] The club was renamed the Eagles, inspired by the logo of the Anheuser-Busch brewing company, which was founded in St. Louis.[10][11] The Senators name and logo remained in Ottawa and would be used by a senior amateur team until 1954.[12] At the time, St. Louis was the seventh largest city in the United States, with over 800,000 inhabitants—[13] over seven times larger than Ottawa. Despite this, St. Louis had been denied an NHL franchise in 1932 because travel to the Midwest was considered too expensive during the Great Depression.[14]

Even before the official debut of the Eagles, a problem had arisen for the new NHL club. There was already a professional hockey team in the city, the St. Louis Flyers, playing in the minor-pro American Hockey Association (AHA). The owners of the Flyers claimed they had an agreement with the NHL which prevented it from settling west of the Mississippi.[14] They threatened to sue for $200,000 in compensation as soon as the Eagles played their first game. Following a visit from the AHA President, the Flyers were asked not to go forward with the lawsuit. The Flyers did not pursue further legal action and eventually changed home venues.[15][16]

1934–35 season[edit]

The St. Louis Arena, as it looked on the day of its demolition - February 27, 1999.

At the time there were nine teams in the NHL, divided into two divisions, the Canadian and American. Logically, the Eagles should have been placed in the American Division with the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings. However, in defiance of all geographic reality, the Eagles retained the Senators' place in the Canadian Division alongside the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Maroons, and New York Americans.[17][18] The core of the Senators' players returned and the team played their games in the St. Louis Arena. The arena was built in 1929 to host the National Dairy Show, but had suffered financially. In 1931, an ice hockey rink was set up to attract new business.[19][20] Once the Eagles began play the St. Louis Arena gained the distinction of being the only NHL stadium with racially segregated seating.[21]

In their first game the Eagles succumbed to a late rally by the defending Stanley Cup champion Black Hawks, losing 3–1.[22] They registered their first win in the next game winning 4–2 over the Rangers. Following the win the Eagles went on an eight-game losing streak.[23] After the first 13 games the Eagles posted a 2–11–0 record placing them last in their division. Gerard resigned as head coach and was replaced by George "Buck" Boucher, the coach that Gerard himself had replaced after the franchises last season in Ottawa.[24]

Under Boucher's coaching the team showed improvement, posting a 3–3–3 record in the first nine games.[25] However, the early losing streak had already damaged the fan base. Their inaugural game drew 12,622 fans, but attendance quickly diminished.[14][22] In early January 1935 the team cut ticket prices to the lowest in the league in an attempt to bring out fans.[26] By February the financial state of the team forced the Eagles to essentially sell leading goal scorer Syd Howe to the Detroit Red Wings.[27][28] Officially, the trade broke down as such - Detroit received Howe and Ralph Bowman in exchange for Teddy Graham and $50,000.[29] At the time it was considered a large sum of money.[30] Likewise Frank Finnigan was sold to the Maple Leafs.[14] The Eagles were unable to maintain the early success under Boucher, and finished last in the Canadian division with a record of 11–31–6. With only 84 goals scored, they were the lowest scoring team in the league. Only the Montreal Canadiens allowed more goals during the season, surrendering 145 to the Eagles' 144.[31]

The end of the Eagles[edit]

St. Louis Eagles NHL jersey on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame

By season's end the Eagles ownership had lost $70,000, due primarily to the cost of train travel. In those days, NHL teams traveled primarily by rail. Due to being in the Canadian Division, the Eagles had to make a large number of trips to Montreal and Toronto. An attempt to stabilize the franchise by selling off some of its players netted $58,000. The owners had hoped to move once more to save the franchise.[32] There was interest from Cleveland and also in a return to Ottawa, but neither came to fruition.[33][34]

As a result, the ownership again petitioned the NHL to allow them to suspend operations for a year. This time the NHL refused and the Eagles were put up for sale.[35][36] After no credible offers surfaced, the NHL bought the franchise and player contracts for $40,000, and opted to play as an eight-team league.[36] If the NHL ever resold the franchise, proceeds were to go to the Ottawa Hockey Association.[37] The NHL distributed the players under contract with St. Louis through a dispersal draft. Teams selected players in an order based on the previous season's standings. Teams with the lowest point totals selected first. The Chicago Black Hawks did not participate in the draft. Eighteen of the twenty-three players under contract were selected with the remaining players being placed in the minor leagues.[36][38] The players were distributed as follows:

No credible offers to purchase the dormant franchise ever surfaced. As a result, the once-proud Senators/Eagles franchise never took the ice again, and remain one of two NHL teams to fold after winning a Stanley Cup (the other being the Maroons).

In 1938, the Montreal Maroons attempted to move to St. Louis. They were denied by the NHL due to the high travel costs that plagued the Eagles.[39] The NHL eventually returned to St. Louis in 1967, when the league doubled in size from the Original Six. The new team was named the Blues and they joined the Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Oakland Seals, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the new expansion.[40]

Final standings[edit]

Canadian Division
GP W L T GF GA Pts
Toronto Maple Leafs 48 30 14 4 157 111 64
Montreal Maroons 48 24 19 5 123 92 53
Montreal Canadiens 48 19 23 6 110 145 44
New York Americans 48 12 27 9 100 142 33
St. Louis Eagles 48 11 31 6 86 144 28

[41]

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
       Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.

Players[edit]

Twenty-nine players in all represented the Eagles during their lone season of existence. The last active player who played with the Eagles was Bill Cowley, who retired in 1947 after his final season with the Boston Bruins. He was also the only player in franchise history to start his career with the Eagles and be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.[38] Syd Howe was the only captain of the team during its existence[42] and the two players were the only Eagles players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.[43]

Carl Voss led the team with 18 assists and 31 points Howe led them in goalscoring registering 14, despite being traded midway through the season. The totals were much lower than the NHL leaders as Charlie Conacher of Toronto led the league with 36 goals and 57 points, while Art Chapman of the Americans led for assists notching 34.[44] Bill Beveridge was the only goaltender the team used during the season. Out of his 11 wins three were shutouts.

The list of players in the history of the team is presented below.

Syd Howe (shown here with the Philadelphia Quakers) was the captain and leading goalscorer for the Eagles.
Player Pos GP G A Pts PIM
Asmundson, OscarOscar Asmundson C 11 4 7 11 2
Ayres, VernonVernon Ayres D 47 2 2 4 60
Blake, MickeyMickey Blake LW/D 8 1 1 2 2
Bowman, RalphRalph Bowman D 31 2 2 4 51
Brydson, GlenGlen Brydson RW 48 11 18 29 45
Carrigan, GeneGene Carrigan C 4 0 1 1 0
Cook, BudBud Cook C 4 0 0 0 0
Cowley, BillBill Cowley C 41 5 7 12 10
Finnigan, EdEd Finnigan LW 12 1 1 2 2
Finnigan, FrankFrank Finnigan RW 34 5 5 10 10
Frew, IrvIrv Frew D 48 0 2 2 89
Graham, TedTed Graham D 13 0 0 0 2
Howe, SydSyd Howe C/LW 36 14 13 27 23
Jerwa, FrankFrank Jerwa LW/D 16 4 7 11 14
Kalbfleisch, WalterWalter Kalbfleisch D 3 0 0 0 6
Kaminsky, MaxMax Kaminsky C 12 0 0 0 0
Kelly, PetePete Kelly RW 25 3 10 13 14
Lamb, JoeJoe Lamb RW 31 11 12 23 19
Patterson, GeorgeGeorge Patterson W 21 0 1 1 2
Purpur, FidoFido Purpur RW 25 1 2 3 8
Ripley, VicVic Ripley LW 31 1 5 6 10
Roche, EarlEarl Roche LW 19 3 3 6 2
Roche, DesDes Roche RW 7 0 0 0 0
Shannon, GerryGerry Shannon LW 25 2 2 4 11
Voss, CarlCarl Voss C 48 13 18 31 14
Wasnie, NickNick Wasnie RW 13 3 1 4 2
Wilcox, ArchieArchie Wilcox RW/D 8 0 0 0 0
Williams, BurrBurr Williams D 9 0 0 0 6
Goaltending
Player MIN GP W L T GA GAA SO
Beveridge, BillBill Beveridge 2990 48 11 31 6 144 2.89 3
Team: 2990 48 11 31 6 144 2.89 3

All player stats taken from Hockey-Reference.com[28]

Team captains[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kitchen, Paul (April 13, 1998). "It's true: Hockey players can be artistic: Alexei Yashin recently gave $1 million to the arts, while more than 100 years ago another Ottawa great also made a splash in the arts". Ottawa Citizen. pp. C3. 
  2. ^ Colman 1966, p. 137
  3. ^ Colman 1966, pp. 178–179
  4. ^ "List of winners of the Stanley Cup". NHL.com. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  5. ^ Hunter, Douglas (1997). Champions: The Illustrated History of Hockey's Greatest Dynasties. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-213-6. 
  6. ^ a b MacKinnon, John (December 24, 1989). "Once upon a time... When Ottawa ruled the hockey world". The Ottawa Citizen. pp. B1. 
  7. ^ Wong 2005, p. 130
  8. ^ "No N.H.L. Hockey Team for Ottawa Next Winter". The Evening Citizen. April 7, 1934. p. 1. 
  9. ^ Finnigan 1992, p. 163
  10. ^ "The St. Louis Blues at the Arena: St. Louis Eagles". JCS Group. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  11. ^ "A Brief History of Anheuser-Busch". Anheuser-Busch. Archived from the original on 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  12. ^ Finnigan 1992, p. 189
  13. ^ "Physical Growth of the City of Saint Louis". StLouis.Missouri.org. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  14. ^ a b c d Duplacey 1998, p. 242
  15. ^ "St. Louis Eagles New Entry Meet Chicago Blackhawks: Facing Civil Suit". Meriden Record. 1934-11-08. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  16. ^ "St. Louis Hockey War Off". Vancouver Sun. 1934-11-09. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  17. ^ "1934-35 National Hockey League". Hockey DB. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  18. ^ "1933-34 National Hockey League". Hockey DB. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  19. ^ "St. Louis Blues at the Arena: Seventy Years In St. Louis". JCS Group. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  20. ^ Fox 1995, p. 121
  21. ^ Finnigan 1992, p. 123
  22. ^ a b "CHICAGO SIX WINS IN ST. LOUIS, 3 TO 1; 12,622 See World Champions Rally in Last 5 Minutes to Defeat Eagles.". The New York Times. 1934-11-08. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  23. ^ "1934-35 St. Louis Eagles Results and Schedule". Hockey DB. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  24. ^ Canadian Press (1934-12-12). "Gerard is Succeeded as Manager Of St. Louis Six by Buck Boucher". Montreal: Canadian Press. p. 16. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  25. ^ "Boucher Miracle Man of Hockey". Nashua Telegraph. 1935-01-10. p. 12. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  26. ^ "Down Go Prices for Hockey Game". Rochester Evening Journal. 1935-01-09. p. 41. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  27. ^ Pennington 2007, p. 19
  28. ^ a b "1934-35 St. Louis Eagles Statistics - Hockey-Reference.com". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  29. ^ "Syd Howe Career Statistics". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  30. ^ Fischler 2002, p. 50
  31. ^ "1934-1935 Regular Season". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  32. ^ "Meandering with Mac". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. 1935-03-20. p. 10. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  33. ^ "Cleveland Seeks Franchise in NHL". Montreal Gazette. Canadian Press. 1935-04-05. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  34. ^ Weiner, Evan (2010-03-19). "Kramer played the Blues in St. Louis". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  35. ^ McKinley 2006, p. 117
  36. ^ a b c "St Louis Out of Title Hunt: League Buys Franchise Splits Players Among Remaining Eight Clubs". The Leader-Post. 1935-10-16. 
  37. ^ Coleman 1967
  38. ^ a b "Bill Cowley Biography". Hockey Hall of Fame. 1935-03-20. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  39. ^ Brown 2006, p. 206
  40. ^ Devellano 2008, p. 10
  41. ^ Standings: NHL Public Relations Department (2008). Dave McCarthy et al, ed. THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE Official Guide & Record Book/2009. National Hockey League. p. 147. ISBN 978-1-894801-14-0. 
  42. ^ "St. Louis Eagles (1934/35)". Sports Ecyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  43. ^ "The Legends: St. Louis Eagles". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  44. ^ "1934-35 NHL League Leaders". Hockey DB. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 

Bibliography[edit]

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  • Coleman, Charles L. (1966). The Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol. 1, 1893–1926 inc. Montreal, Quebec: National Hockey League. ISBN 0-8403-2941-5. 
  • Coleman, Charles L. (1967). The Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol. 2, 1927–1946 inc. Montreal, Quebec: National Hockey League. 
  • Devellano, Jim (2008). The Road to Hockeytown: Jimmy Devellano's Forty Years in the NHL. Mississauga, Ontario: John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-15552-3 
  • Duplacey, James (1998). Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League. Total Sports. ISBN 978-0-8362-7114-0 
  • Fischler, Stan (2002). Detroit Red Wings Greatest Moments and Players. Sports Publishing L.L.C. ISBN 1-58261-271-4 
  • Finnigan, Joan (1992). Old Scores, New Goals. The Story of the Ottawa Senators. Quarry Press. ISBN 1-55082-041-9 
  • Fox, Tim (1995). Where we live: a guide to St. Louis communities. St. Louis, Missouri: Missouri Historical Society. ISBN 1-883982-12-X 
  • McKinley, Michael (2006). Hockey A People's History. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Broadcast Company. ISBN 978-0-7710-5769-4 
  • Pennington, Richard (2007). Detroit Red Wings Trivia Teasers. Madison Wisconsin: Trail Books. ISBN 978-1-931599-93-1 
  • Wong, John Chi-Kit (2005). Lords of the Rinks: The Emergence of the National Hockey League, 1875–1936. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-8520-2.