The NAHL: 1917, Hockey’s Year of Reckoning

On the eve of WWI, a medal of honor awardee, prominent sports personalities and the best hockeyists in the United States gathered on a world stage.  A legend had been building since the early 1900s starting in the New York City area. That legend, the legend of amateur hockey, came to fruition in 1917. The foundation for the next decade of hockey, both professional and amateur, were laid in that fateful year.

This blog over the next few months will provide brief biographies on key characters. Knowledge known and forgotten will be here in an attempt to provide a more complete picture of the hockeyists and their managers.

To note, amateur hockeyists can’t be paid for playing hockey. So, what were their jobs? Some times, they worked for a sporting goods store, like A. G. Spalding. Other times, they worked as car mechanics. And, as Brian McFarlane discovered, their work really was hockey and not lacing footballs at Spalding [1].

Getting back to the main topic, many will hopefully recognize the key players. From Boston, George V. Brown, Raymie Skilton and Frank Synott will be documented. From the US Navy, CAPT. William R. Rush, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions at Veracruz [2], plays a role. From Pittsburgh, Roy Schooley, Herbert Drury and the McCormick brothers drive action. Finally, New York’s Mickey Roach and “Duke” Wellington will be outlined. And, yes, Mickey Roach used be a Bostonian.

1917-18 season was a disruptive season for hockey. The creation of the National Hockey League, the infamous Montreal Arena fire [3], and the politics of amateur vs professional hockey that built to a crescendo in that season. The larger than life personalities, the hockeyists and the organizations all vying for control of the final outcome. But, first, we need to know who the entities are, and I hope you enjoy the journey.