The Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) was a professional men's ice hockey league in western Canada, which operated from 1911 to 1924 when it then merged with the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). The PCHA was considered to be a 'major' league of ice hockey.
The league was started by the Patrick family, professional hockey players from Montreal, building new arenas in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. After a few years of play, the league was accepted by the Stanley Cup trustees as being of a high enough standard that teams from its league were accepted for Stanley Cup challenges. Starting in 1915, the league entered into an agreement where the Stanley Cup was to be contested between the National Hockey Association and the PCHA after the regular seasons were finished. The league struggled to make money, and various teams moved into different cities in an attempt to be successful financially. Eventually, the league, to survive, merged with the WCHL in 1924.
The PCHA was founded on December 7, 1911 by Frank Patrick and Lester Patrick, brothers who were star hockey players in Quebec and Ontario. In the off-season they helped their father run a lumber business in British Columbia.
The league began with three teams: the New Westminster Royals, the Victoria Aristocrats, and the Vancouver Millionaires, which played in the flagship Vancouver Arena with a seating capacity of 10,500. The league owned all the teams and held all the player contracts, and played under the seven-man rules that had been abandoned in the National Hockey Association. Frank Patrick managed and played for the Vancouver team, while Lester Patrick managed and played in Victoria. The Patricks raided the NHA for players, although with only three teams and no substitutes, the entire league only had 23 players under contract (including two reserves in case of injury). In 1912, the PCHA signed Cyclone Taylor, a marquee name whose arrival was a hit with west coast fans.
The league did not challenge for the Stanley Cup the first year. In 1913, the PCHA and the NHA came to an agreement where the champions of each league would face each other for the Stanley Cup. The leagues also agreed to recognize each other's player suspensions and reserve clauses. In the 1914-15 season, Vancouver defeated the Ottawa Senators in a best-of-five series to become the PCHA's first Stanley Cup champions.
The league expanded into the United States in 1914 (Portland, Oregon) and again in 1915 (Seattle, Washington). In 1916, the Portland Rosebuds became the first American team to play for the Stanley Cup and the following year the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to win the Cup—forever changing the mandate of the Cup, which had initially been to recognize the top hockey club in Canada.
Relations with the NHA turned sour in 1915, with the Patricks accusing the league of reneging on their agreement. In retaliation, the PCHA again went on a raid for NHA players, particularly ones with the Toronto Blueshirts. Five players from Toronto became the core of the new Seattle team.
In 1918, the PCHA introduced playoffs for the first time. Until that year, the team with the best record over the season had been declared the champion and challenged for the Stanley Cup. With the creation of playoffs, it was the winner in the post-season who would be league champion.
In 1921, the Western Canada Hockey League, another western major league of hockey, was formed, and the Stanley Cup playoffs was modified to include teams from the WCHL. The following two years, which would turn out to be the last two years of the PCHA, the league played interleague games with the WCHL. In the last year of the PCHA, all three remaining teams finished with losing records.
In 1924, the Seattle Metropolitans folded, and the two remaining teams in Vancouver and Victoria joined the WCHL (renamed the Western Hockey League), putting an end to the PCHA. The Victoria Cougars would win the Stanley Cup in 1925, but this win would be the last by a non-NHL team, and the last by a team from the west for a long time.
This new league would also not last long, as the WHL was unable to match the NHL's American expansion and its player salaries, which led the Patrick brothers to sell players or, in the case of the Portland Rosebuds and the Victoria Cougars, the team itself. The expansion Chicago Black Hawks bought the Rosebud players for a reported $15,000, while the expansion Detroit team bought the Victoria players for $25,000 and named itself the Detroit Cougars (NHL) in tribute; this team became the present-day Detroit Red Wings.
|New Westminster Royals||New Westminster, British Columbia||Denman Arena (Vancouver)||1911-1914||moved to Portland|
|Vancouver Millionaires||Vancouver, British Columbia||Denman Arena||1911-1922||renamed Maroons|
|Victoria Aristocrats||Victoria, British Columbia||Patrick Arena||1911-1916||moved to Spokane|
|Portland Rosebuds||Portland, Oregon||Portland Ice Arena||1914-1918||folded|
|Seattle Metropolitans||Seattle, Washington||Seattle Ice Arena||1915-1924||folded|
|Spokane Canaries||Spokane, Washington||Elm Street Barn||1916-1917||Folded|
|Vancouver Maroons||Vancouver, British Columbia||Denman Arena||1922-1924||joined Western Canada Hockey League|
|Victoria Cougars||Victoria, British Columbia||Patrick Arena||1923-1924||joined Western Canada Hockey League|
|1912||New Westminster Royals|
|1917-18||Vancouver Millionaires‡‡ (two-game playoff against Seattle)|
|1919||Seattle Metropolitans (two-game playoff against Vancouver )|
|1919-20||Seattle Metropolitans (two-game playoff against Vancouver)|
|1920-21||Vancouver Millionaires (two-game playoff against Seattle)|
|1921-22||Vancouver Millionaires (two-game playoff against Seattle)|
|1922-23||Vancouver Maroons (two-game playoff against Victoria)|
|1923-24||Vancouver Maroons (two-game playoff against Seattle)|
† Stanley Cup Champions.
‡ League champion, but not considered Stanley Cup champion.
‡‡ Vancouver inscribed their name on the Cup for defeating Seattle, but lost in the Cup final to Toronto.
All-Star teams and other awards
- 1913-14 - Hugh Lehman, New Westminster, goal; Ernie Johnson, New Westminster, and Frank Patrick, Vancouver on defence; Cyclone Taylor, Vancouver, rover; and Tom Dunderdale, Victoria, Eddie Oatman, New Westminster, and Dubbie Kerr, Victoria, forward.
- 1914-15 - Hugh Lehman, Vancouver, goal; Ernie Johnson, Portland, and Lester Patrick, Victoria on defence; Cyclone Taylor, Vancouver, rover; and Mickey Mackay, Vancouver, Eddie Oatman, Portland, and Frank Nighbor, Vancouver, forward.
- 1916-17 - Frank Foyston, Seattle - most valuable player
- Until this time, the team that won the league championship of the league of the defending Stanley Cup holder, would be automatically be awarded the Stanley Cup. For this year, Portland could be considered Stanley Cup holder, but, as playoffs with the NHA were scheduled, the old rules were no longer applied. This rule was made formal for the next season.
- Internet Hockey Database - standings and statistics