Toronto Arenas
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Founded 1917
History Toronto 1917–18
Toronto Arenas 1918–19
Toronto St. Patricks 191927
Toronto Maple Leafs 1927–present
Arena Arena Gardens
City Toronto, Ontario
Team Colours Blue
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Official Website
Home ice

The Toronto Arenas, Toronto Blueshirts or Torontos was a professional team that played in the first two seasons of the National Hockey League (NHL). It was operated by the owner of the Arena Gardens, the Toronto Arena Company. (Arena Co.) As the ownership of the National Hockey Association (NHA) Toronto Blueshirts franchise was in dispute, the new NHL league was started, and a temporary Toronto franchise was operated. The NHL itself was intended to only be a one-year entity until the NHA could be reactivated, although it never was.

For the first season, the team operated without a formal organization separate from the Arena Co. and without an official club nickname, although the press would dub the team the "Blue Shirts" or "Torontos". The Torontos, the NHL's first Stanley Cup champions 1917-1918. The dispute dragged into the 1918–1919 season, so for the 1918–1919 season the Toronto Arena Hockey Club was formed to operate the temporary franchise. After the 1918–19 season, the dispute was still unresolved, so a new permanent franchise would be sold for Toronto. This new franchise was named the Toronto St. Patricks, and would later become the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1927.

Franchise historyEdit

1917–18 seasonEdit

Prior to the 1917 season, the NHA, through a majority vote of its board of directors, suspended operations. At the same time, those same teams (Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators and Quebec Bulldogs), minus the Toronto Blueshirts, formed the NHL.

Since Quebec would not operate, a solution with a Toronto club was needed to make it a four-team 'even numbered' league. So, by order of NHA/NHL President Frank Calder all players of the NHA Blueshirts were assigned to a 'temporary' Toronto franchise to be operated by Arena Co., who also owned Montreal Arena. Mr. Calder had given Eddie Livingstone, the owner of the Blueshirts, an order to sell the team, although the owner did not want to sell and did not agree to various offers made. Toronto Arena Co. was to 'solve' the situation with Mr. Livingstone or lose the franchise. The Arena Co. did agree to compensate Livingstone for the use of the players for the season, although no suitable figure was ever reached, and the league itself disputed any claims that Livingstone had on the players.

As the Arena was the only suitable place to play at the time, the players had little choice but to play, if they wanted to play in the NHL. The NHL had also publicly announced that there was an agreement to buy out Livingstone, though this never took place. Many of the players signed contracts with both Livingstone and the Arena, and often were paid in cash or personal cheques on a week-by-week basis. Despite this uncertainty, the team was successful from the start. The team won the second half of the 1917–18 NHL season, leading to a playoff against the Montreal Canadiens. The Torontos won the playoff and would then face off against the Vancouver Millionaires for the Stanley Cup. Toronto then won the best-of-five series 3-2.

After the Cup win, the team did not engrave its name on the Stanley Cup. The NHL would later engrave "Toronto Arenas 1918" in 1947. In many books, the name Toronto Arena is listed as the Stanley Cup champion for 1918, but this is technically incorrect because the Toronto Arena Hockey Club was formed after the season.

1918–1919 seasonEdit

On October 19, 1918, Hubert Vearncombe, treasurer of the Arena Co. formed the Toronto Arena Hockey Club Company and applied for a 'permanent' NHL franchise. This was done so that the Hockey Club could operate separately, without the legal action which was brought against Arena Co., threatening to stop NHL play in Toronto. The Stanley Cup run had been lucrative for the Arena Co., and they had refused to pay any of the revenues to Livingstone, whose players they had used.

The owners paid nothing for this new temporary franchise; there was an agreement to split profits with the league until $5000 was received by the league. The players now knew that the club was in trouble, and several signed contracts with both Livingstone and Vearncombe, not knowing who would win out. Those players eventually would be sued by Livingstone as well.

This year, the club was not successful, falling to 5 wins and 13 losses, finishing last in both halves of the season. Attendance was especially poor, recorded as only hundreds for a February 4, 1919 game against the Canadiens. Several players left the team, including Harry Holmes, Harry Meeking and Dave Ritchie. This was partly due to the operations of the team, as most players were without legal contracts, as they were really still 'property' of the Blueshirts, and were being paid in cash.

The team wrote to Calder to end the season early, and the season ended after each team had played 18 games. The Toronto Arenas then officially withdrew from the league on February 20, 1919. This left the two remaining teams, Montreal and Ottawa, to play a playoff for the league championship.

1919–1920 seasonEdit

On December 13, 1919, the NHL, under the direction of Frank Calder transferred the Toronto franchise, this time to the Toronto St. Pats group, for the fee of $5,000. While the money was to go to Eddie Livingstone to settle his NHA club, it never was received by Mr. Livingstone and appears to have been appropriated by Mr. Calder. The incorporation date of the club was December 22, 1919, and listed Fred Hambly, Percy Hambly, Paul Ciceri and Charlie Querrie with 99 shares each, and Richard Greer with 4 shares.

Notable playersEdit

  • Jack Adams - Hall of Fame player, later Detroit coach and general manager
  • Hap Holmes - Hall of Fame goaltender


  • Dick Carroll

Preceded by
Seattle Metropolitans
Stanley Cup Champions

Succeeded by
Ottawa Senators

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