December 1920 – Welcome, Hamilton – First Line Rover

Headline – The NHL comes to Hamilton

So, after a couple of years of wondering whether Quebec would be a part of the league, they finally joined in. Just as quickly as they came, they left.

With all the losing they did, despite having the leading goal scorer in the league, not nearly enough fans showed up to their games, and the NHL took the team away from Quebec. The Athletics were sold to the Abso Pure Ice Company, located in Hamilton, Ontario, and renamed the Hamilton Tigers.

Hamilton was chosen for one very special reason: Eddie Livingstone. Yup, he’s still making trouble. Now that his stake in Toronto’s NHL franchise is officially gone, Livingstone has been trying to put together his own pro circuit, with Hamilton being a big target for a team. The NHL is trying to beat him to the punch by getting their own team there.

Hamilton is not far from Toronto, so it works in terms of location. Their home rink, Barton Street Arena, looks good (we’ll get to that place shortly). It’s a new market, so it remains to be seen if it can become a hotbed for hockey.

Arenas of the Game

Barton Street Arena’s unique exterior

The new home for NHL hockey is in Hamilton, and it’s called the Barton Street Arena. The building has a very interesting exterior, with a squiggly roof on part of the building.

The building had lots of entrances, which helps a lot with managing crowds coming in and out of the building. The arena also has plenty of locker rooms, and a smoking room for anyone who needs it.

The real gem was the rink. The ice was artificial, so they wouldn’t have any trouble with warm weather should they play deep into the spring. The rink is well lit, using 28 high-powered lights hung from the roof. The fans would be treated to steam-heating climate control for their section of the room, so they could happily come in from the cold Canadian winter to watch a game.

This building has promise. Hopefully the Tigers can put on a good show for their fans.

So what the heck happened?

You know who isn’t putting on a good show for their fans? The Canadiens. Their first three games are proving disastrous, and they haven’t even played Ottawa yet.

The Canadiens were the opponents for Hamilton’s inaugural game. The Tigers shut the Habs out 5-0 to send their fans home happy for the first time. They traveled to Toronto for a game on Christmas day, and the St. Pats overcame a 3-1 Montreal lead to win 5-4. The Habs returned home for a possible revenge game against the Tigers, and lost in blowout fashion 6-2.

Newsy Lalonde only has two goals so far, as does Didier Pitre. Only two other players have scored. Besides for that 3-1 lead they had in Toronto, they haven’t been particularly close to winning a game. Can we attribute it to anything? Maybe their stars are starting to show their age just a little. Lalonde is 33, Pitre is 37, Louis Berlinguette is 33, and Georges Vezina is 34. If they’re all past their prime, and on the downswing, it may be a long season in Montreal.

Power Rankings

  1. Ottawa Senators (3-0-0, +12 Goal Differential)
    Business as usual for the best team in the league. Their 8-1 trampling of the St. Pats seems par for their course.
  2. Hamilton Tigers (2-1-0, +7 GD)
    For a team that’s technically coming off winning four games in a 24 game season, this is a great start! Let’s hope they keep it going.
  3. Toronto St. Patricks (1-2-0, -9 GD)
    Is it fair that two of their first three games came against Ottawa? Someone’s gotta play them. They have games against the Tigers and Canadiens to make up for that.
  4. Montreal Canadiens (0-3-0, -10 GD)


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