|New York Americans|
Franchise History[edit | edit source]
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. Dwyer duly bought the collective rights to the Tiger players for $75,000 and moved them to the newly built Madison Square Garden. The Tigers franchise was suspended and never returned; the NHL does not consider the Americans to be a continuation of the Tigers.
The New York Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates became the second and third American-based teams in the NHL. They followed Adams' Boston Bruins, who began the previous season. As with the Pirates, the choice of "Americans" as a nickname may have been influenced by a local strong baseball team, specifically the New York Yankees, but Rickard also wanted to market the American character of the team, which was playing a sport acknowledged as Canadian.
Success didn't come easily for the Americans. Even though their roster was substantively the same that led the NHL in Hamilton the previous year, in the Americans' first season, 1925-26, they finished 5th 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.
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 would see the Americans fall even further from grace by finishing last overall with a record of 11-27-6 and would see the Rangers capture the Stanley Cup in only their second year of existence.
The 1927-28 NHL season saw the New York Americans sign star goaltender Roy Worters from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would lead the team to a 19-13-12 record in the 1928-29 NHL season, good enough for second 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 would make the playoffs for the first time, but would be unable to beat the New York Rangers in a "total goals" series. The Rangers had extreme difficulty scoring against Worters, but the futile Americans were unable to score against the Rangers, too. The Rangers ended up winning the series in the second game one to nothing in overtime.
The next season saw the Americans go from second best to worst 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 lost a playoff berth since 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 pressured, to no avail, for the NHL to make a rule against icing. So, 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.
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 would bow 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 they had no authority to seize his team. A settlement was reached where 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 league-controlled team would fare no better 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 now 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 would make the playoffs. In the playoffs, they would beat the Rangers in three games, but go onto lose against the Chicago Black Hawks in three.
The next two seasons (1938-39 and 1939-40) saw the Americans make the playoffs for the second and third straight times. These times, though, they would not make it past the first round. The following season, 1940-41, they missed the playoffs with a horrible record of 8-29-11. Canada had entered World War II in September, 1939, and many of the team's Canadian players left for military service. 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 his wits 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 due to a lack of a decent arena, the Brooklyn Americans 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. However, in 1946, the NHL reneged on promises to reinstate the Amerks and Maroons (who had shut down in 1938, but had been sold to Philadelphia interests) and cancelled both franchises. 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.
Season-by-Season Record[edit | edit source]
|Americans' all-time standings|
|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)|
|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) |
Lost Semifinals (Toronto)
|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) |
Lost Semifinals (Chicago)
|1938–39||48||17||21||10||44||119||157||276||fourth, NHL||Lost Quarterfinals (Toronto)|
|1939–40||48||15||29||4||34||106||140||236||sixth, NHL||Lost Quarterfinals (Detroit)|
|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|
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 | edit source]
- Billy Burch
- Charlie Conacher
- Lionel Conacher
- Red Dutton
- Chuck Rayner
- Sweeney Schriner
- Joe Simpson
- Hooley Smith
- Nels Stewart
- Roy Worters
- Busher Jackson
Team Captains[edit | edit source]
- Billy Burch (1925-32)
- Red Dutton (1932-36)
- Sweeney Schriner (1936-39)
- Charlie Conacher (1939-41)
- Tommy Anderson (1941-42)
Coaches[edit | edit source]
Head Coaches for the New York Americans:
- Tommy Gorman, 1925-26
- Newsy Lalonde, 1926-27
- Shorty Green, 1927-28
- Tommy Gorman, 1928-29
- Lionel Conacher, 1929-30
- Eddie Gerard, 1930-31,1931-32
- Bullet Joe Simpson, 1932-33 to 1934-35
- Red Dutton, 1935-36 to 1941-42
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- In 1926-27, the Americans were the first team to put player names on the back of sweaters.
See Also[edit | edit source]
- List of New York Americans players
- List of NHL seasons
- List of NHL players
- List of defunct NHL teams
- Hamilton Tigers
- Curse of 1940
References[edit | edit source]
- New York Americans
- Coleman, Charles (1966). Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol I.. Kendall/Hunt.
|National Hockey League|