Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey

Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey

Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey

Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey


Hockey lovers will be fascinated by the truth about how the National Hockey League was founded and how, through less than savory means, it captured permanent possession of the Stanley Cup.

Deceptions and Doublecrossbegins with the 1917 conspiracy among a Montreal contingent of the National Hockey Association to oust Toronto owner Edward James Livingstone from the league. The result was the transformation of the NHA into the NHL, with Frank Calder as president, leaving Livingstone out in the cold.

Under Calder's iron-fisted direction, the NHL became the only major hockey league in North America, and gained exclusive claim to the Stanley Cup.


Writing ability, first, of course. But you’ve got to be a hero-wor
shipper, someone who gets a kick hob-nobbing with the great.

— Elmer Ferguson, on what it takes
to be a great sportswriter

April 1972. Flowers bloomed. Birds chirped. The frozen rivers, ponds .Ziand lakes where children played hockey day after day were starting to resemble the swimming and fishing holes they would become. The long, cold winter receded into memory, taking with it another National Hockey League regular-season schedule, and the annual tournament to crown a new Stanley Cup champion began anew.

But this would be no ordinary spring. A couple of months before, a group of men fed up with the National Hockey League and its management felt the time was ripe to create a competitor. Meeting in Anaheim, California — birthplace of Disneyland, but no NHL superstars — this group of men launched the World Hockey Association. Soon they would engage in active pursuit of one of hockey’s greatest drawing cards: the world-renowned Golden Jet, Bobby Hull.

Meanwhile, Bobby Orr’s agent, Alan Eagleson, was among a group negotiating with the Soviet Union to bring the Cold War to the ice. Most of the experts believed the eight-game “Super Summit,” as it was to be called, would be a walk in the park for the brash NHL superstars. Canada would easily sweep all eight from the hated Russians, they said. In fact, Canadians would learn soon enough that other nations had not only picked up their great game of hockey, they had mastered it. The NHL’s best would win by the narrowest of margins, and in the process a . . .

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