January 8, 2013

Long Shots: The Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup

Guest book review by Ryan Van Horne
Although he never played the game, it could be argued that Frederick Arthur Stanley is hockey's greatest legend – or at least responsible for it.
He is the man who started the sport's greatest tradition by donating the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.
Stanley's official title was Lord Stanley of Preston and, as the Governor General of Canada in 1892, he plunked down $48.67 of his own money to purchase a trophy that would become the most cherished in all of sport.
In the early years, it was a true challenge cup and 57 teams from coast to coast played for it. A team from Dawson City, Yukon made a month-long trek to Ottawa and even travelled by sled-dog for part of the journey.
Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup was published in October. It explores the history of the Sydney Millionaires and three other Maritime teams that challenged for the Cup.
Nowadays, three of the four cities are represented by major junior teams and the fourth hosts a junior A team. But 100 years ago, there was a Maritime Professional Hockey League and any team could issue a challenge to the defending champion and, if the trustees thought they were worthy, they would arrange a two-game, total-goal series.
Long Shots is the third book by Halifax author Trevor Adams. In researching it, he mucked around in the corners of Maritime hockey lore and came out with the previously unpublished memoirs of Alfred (Cap) McDonald, the captain of the 1912-13 Sydney Millionaires team that challenged the defending Quebec Bulldogs featuring legendary scoring machine Joe Malone.
The other Maritime teams to challenge for the Stanley Cup preceded the Millionaires. They were the Halifax Crescents, the New Glasgow Cubs and the Moncton Victorias. All lost by lopsided scores and no Maritime team played for the Cup after the Millionaires.
Adams explores the early days of professional hockey before the formation of the National Hockey League. From McDonald's memoirs, Adams is able to paint a portrait we rarely see today because it is difficult to interview an athlete and get beyond the cliche.
“He talks about the struggles he went through coming up through professional hockey; playing games and not getting paid and having to work as lumberjack in the offseason because hockey players weren't making any better money than any other sort of blue-collar workers,” Adams said. “They are really sort of authentic, playing mostly playing out of community pride more than anything else.”


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