Although it’s sad for Vancouver Canucks’ fans that their team has never won a Stanley Cup, they just have to remind themselves that someday, somehow, it could happen. Meanwhile, I’ll try to cheer them up by telling them about the time the Canucks’ great-grandfathers, the Vancouver Millionaires, did hoist the big old mug.
In 1915, the Millionaires, led by flashy forward Cyclone Taylor who had come out to Vancouver, liked it and stayed, clobbered the Portland Rosebuds 11-3 to clinch the Pacific Coast League title. Back east, the Ottawa Senators were doing the same thing to the Montreal Wanderers, beating them 4-1 to win the National Hockey Association championship.
So it was Ottawa against Vancouver, in Vancouver, for the first Stanley Cup series ever staged in Western Canada.
As the Senators made their way across the country by train, the Millionaires went to Portland to play a couple of games to keep them sharp for the big series. While there, captain Si Griffis twisted his ankle. And the guy the team hired for five bucks to sit in the dressing room and watch their valuables made off with all their money, Griffis’ gold watch, and goalie Hugh Lehman’s diamond stickpin. (I once had Hugh Lehman’s autograph on a small scrap of paper and sold it for 500 bucks on ebay.)
The big Stanley Cup series was a five-game series, and it was decided that each member of the winning team would receive $300. Big sell-outs were predicted at the old Denman Arena, which would eventually burn to the ground 21 years later. And in an unbelievable outpouring of generosity, each member of the Ottawa team was presented with a free streetcar pass by BC Electric.
The three big games were, somewhat surprising, less than sold out, but the Millionaires, all seven of them, clobbered those eastern lads in three straight games by a whopping 28-6 margin. And back then, players played the entire games without substitution.
The Millionaires collected their $300 and probably bought new fedoras, and maybe Easter bonnets for the little ladies. It’s not known if the Ottawa players ever got to use their free streetcar passes.
The Millionaires came close in other years but never saw the team’s name on the Stanley Cup again. However, in 1925 the Victoria Cougars won an east-west series with the Montreal Maroons to join the Millionaires as western Canada Stanley Cup champions. It’s possible that Millionaires’ fans did a slow, jealous burn about this.
Anyway, that was then, but this is now. The Canucks are now starting their 38th year and still no Cup in sight. The modern day Canucks may be millionaires, but they’re no Millionaires.
Not until they finally get the big job done.