The Greatest Match Ever Played?

As of October 28th, there have been 4 confirmed cases of H1N1 in the NHL. The Washington Capitals confirmed Wednesday that forward Quintin Laing is being treated for H1N1. Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid, Colorado Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj and New York Islanders forward Doug Weight have all been previously diagnosed as well.

Over the course of the last century, the NHL has had its share of battles with different ailments. Infections, Cancer (affecting some of the biggest names) and yes…you guessed it…the flu. The story of the flu and its impact on the NHL’s second year is actually quite interesting and tragic at the same time.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1919 that ended up in the cancellation of the Stanley Cup Final…I’ll give you the short version;

Americans and Canadians were celebrating the end of World War I, but were growing more apprehensive about the influenza epidemic that had already ravaged Europe and seemed to be making its way to Canada. The Montreal Canadiens were taking the transcontinental train to the west coast to take on the Seattle Metropolitans for the Stanley Cup.

Upon arriving, there were some questions raised about having so many people in such a confined hockey arena. Large public gatherings were the breeding ground for the flu.

Game one went to Seattle, as they destroyed the Canadiens (feels good to write that!) by a score of 7-2. The Habs rebounded back in game 2 taking Seattle 4-2. The series was tied at one game each.

Game three was yet another pounding by Seattle as they beat Hall of Fame goalie, Georges Vezina 7 times for the second time in the series. It looked like the Metropolitans had Vezina figured out.

Game 4 was described by NHL historian Charles Coleman as “the greatest match ever played on the Pacific Coast”. The Canadiens “Bad” Joe Hall and Seattle’s tough guy Cully Wilson highlighted the night as the game ended in a 0-0 tie and 20 minutes of overtime settled nothing…a scoreless tie in the Stanley Cup final!!

In game 5, the Habs game back from a 3 goal deficit to tie the game. Two goals came courtesy of Newsy Lalonde and another by Jack McDonald. The game was sent to overtime where Montreal’s Odie Cleghorn beat Seattle’s net minder at 15:57 into the extra period to tie the series yet again.

Unfortunately, before the 5th game had ended, Montreal’s Joe Hall was rushed to the hospital with the flu. It hit the series hard with 4 additional players and Montreal manager George Kennedy all being bed-ridden by Spanish flu. Kennedy wanted to continue the series with substitute players from the Victoria team, as Montreal was unable to compete. Seattle opposed the suggestion.

Kennedy forfeited the Cup to Seattle coach Pete Muldoon, but he refused to accept it. The Stanley Cup was never awarded that year, but it will always be remembered for the spirited play and overwhelming sportsmanship of both teams. The Stanley Cup engraving reads as follows;
“1919: Montreal Canadiens, Seattle Metropolitans. Series Not Completed.”

Hall would never see his home arena again as he would die in hospital less than a week after being taken out of the game.

Joseph Henry Hall won two Stanley Cups in his career and was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1961.

Posted By Pat Lynch

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