Montreal Hockey Club wins First Stanley Cup
The Montreal AAA were awarded the first Stanley Cup even thought the Montreal Hockey Club, which had recently become affiliated with the AAA, formed the basis of the team.
The MHC, in fact, first refused the awarding of the Cup unless it was the acknowledged winner, but the players were later placated by gifts, most notably rings (engraved MHC), recognizing their achievement. The Montreal AAA's motta was "Jungor Ut Implear" - "I am joined in the club in order that I may compete." today, the Peel St. club has a thriving membership of 2,400 and is one of the more popular centers for exercise and entertainment in the city.
The AAA were awarded the Cup based on a first place finish of an 8 game schedule. Their record was 7-1 and they competed with the Ottawa Generals (6-2), the Montreal Crystals (3-5), the Quebec Hockey Club (2-5-1) and the Montreal Victorias (1-6-1) of the AHA.The final game was played Febuary 18, at the Victoria Skating Rink in Ottawa.
Once the AAA had been declared the official holders of the Stanley Cup, under the rules laid out by Lord Stanley, any Canadian hockey team could challenge for the trophy, but no team dared.
The club was organized in 1884. The club would be a founding member of the Montreal-based Amateur Hockey Association of Canada in 1886. The team held the Amateur Hockey Association title from 1888 until 1894.
The Stanley Cup, as it would later be known, was to be presented to the Montreal Hockey Club on May 15, 1893, as its initial champions. At the time, the Montreal Hockey Club was in a dispute with its parent organization, the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA). The MAAA was split on whether to accept the trophy. The hockey club, was adamant about refusing the trophy, while other arms of the MAAA accepted. Thus, the trophy was accepted by the MAAA, but with none of the hockey officials of the hockey club present.
Montreal Hockey Club, 1888
Front Row: G.S. Lowe, A.A. Hodgson, J. Virtue, A. Cameron, T.L. Paton
Back Row: W.C. Hodgson, J. Stewart
After accepting the trophy, the hockey club remained adamant about returning the trophy that was presented to them. In the end, the MAAA investigated into why its hockey club wanted to refuse and return the trophy, even though such an action would damage the reputation of the MAAA. It was believed that the people who were in charge of running their team were, in fact, not representative of the team itself, and when the hockey club asked for a loan of $175 in start-up expenses for the 1894 season, it was flatly refused (the first time the MAAA refused anything to the hockey club). Inexplicably, the hockey club reversed its position, and the next few months saw a gradual schism between the MAAA and the club.
Montreal HC won the championship for placing first in the regular season. This was Montreal HC's third straight championship since the Championship Trophy was inaugurated in 1891. According to the terms for the trophy, Montreal HC was allowed to keep the Trophy. A new version was struck for following seasons. The version won by Montreal is on display in the collection of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
As champions of the AHAC, the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup (known today as the Stanley Cup) was to be awarded to Montreal as its inaugural champion. On May 15, 1893, Sheriff John Sweetland finally presented the trophy to the MAAA president J. A. Taylor during the MAAA annual meeting. Each player received a souvenir gold ring as a gift of the MAAA. Disputes between the Montreal HC and the MAAA kept the Cup in the MAAA hands until it was accepted by the Club on February 23, 1894.