St. Louis's First NHL Team & Throwing Back

50 years ago, St. Louis entered the NHL with Oakland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Philadelphia, picking up one of the great goalies of all time, Glenn Hall in the expansion draft, and went to three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals. This would begin what has now been decades of regular season success, only missing the playoffs 9 times in their entire history, 7 Conference Final trips, a President's Trophy in 2000, and 9 Division Titles. However, along with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, this was not their first NHL Franchise.

In 1925, the Pittsburgh NHL Pirates entered the league, playing for 5 seasons before relocating to Philadelphia to become the ill-fated Quakers, who would last for one season before folding due to the Great Depression and poor play in 1931. Likewise, the original Ottawa Senators, a team with 11 Stanley Cups, 4 won during the NHL years, had fallen on hard times both in terms of play and finances. Attendance had sharply fallen, the team hadn't made the playoffs since 1928, and along with the Quakers, both teams went on a one year hiatus. Both teams took this time to recover financially and come back for the 1932-33 season. Ottawa did return, Philadelphia did not.

The original Senators would flounder in those 2 two seasons upon returning, losing many of their stars to other American franchises who could pay their players a lot more than Ottawa could afford on one player. The decision was made following the 1933-34 season to shut down the Ottawa Senators, and relocate them. It's worth noting that at this point, another Canadian franchise was struggling financially as well due to the Great Depression. The Montréal Canadiens had considered relocating to Cleveland in 1935; this coming off of two Stanley Cup victories in 1930-1932. The American franchises: Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, New York Americans, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, could afford to pay their star players. Only Toronto could afford to keep their star players in this period.

Where to stick one of the NHL's original franchises? Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were out of the question as both had relocated and shut down franchises in the past decade, Montréal had two franchises, the Maple Leafs had a monopoly on the Toronto market, and the Western Canada Hockey League and Pacific Coast Hockey League, home of the Victoria Cougars and Seattle Metropolitans, the only Non-NHL teams to win the Stanley Cup while the NHA/NHL existed, had shut down in the 1920s, and the only way teams from the west coast could play teams in the NHL, none further west than Chicago, was by train, which was much too expensive for an entire NHL season. St. Louis, MO was chosen, and the Eagles were born. The team drew good crowds considering they were hastily put together from the beginning, likely in the hope they didn't have to shut the Senators down from the beginning.
Photo from icehockeywiki

Why all the backstory? It's necessary to understand this, as the Eagles, despite only lasting one season in St. Louis, it was not lack of attendance that caused this. It was the travel restraints that prevented west coast relocation that could cause this. I bring this up as we've never seen the Blues attempt to honour the Eagles in any form. Not a warm up jersey, not a throwback, not even a t-shirt, but why?

The Blues/Eagles relationships is very similar to other teams where another NHL team had existed under different ownership in a different era. The Penguins have never honoured the Pirates, Philadelphia has loosely honoured the Quaker in the 2012 Winter Classic and the alternate used afterwards until the 2016-17 season. The Sharks have never honoured the Seals, despite technically being owned by the same groups at one point, aside from a t-shirt giveaway. The Thrashers never honoured the Atlanta Flames with a jersey. Neither of the New York teams have honoured the NY/Brooklyn Americans. The Wild have been better than most, sporting a mostly North Stars alumni roster at the 2016 Stadium Series and on a couple occasions wearing North Stars throwbacks in warm ups. The Habs have yet to honour the Maroons or Wanderers, though this likely has to do with the fact the Habs were the Francophone team while the Maroons/Wanderers were the Anglophone teams in a period where divisiveness over language was greater. The Avs have yet to honour the Rockies, as have the Devils with either of their previous franchises with a jersey. This doesn't account for other NHA and WCHL teams in Toronto, Montréal, Québec, Ottawa. The Sens could be throwing back to the Silver Sevens with the use of silver on the released NHL Classic 100 swag. You can read about it here.

Now this isn't to say many of these teams haven't honoured them in other ways, but a jersey seems to be a step too far for many teams. However it's not just the teams in the same cities, the NHL vintage program as a whole seems to ignore some of these teams

Photo from lids.com
The Montréal Maroons had one CCM Vintage Authentic sweater released about a decade ago, and has since become one of the rarest of the line. Nothing has been produced in the CCM Vintage line jersey wise for either the Brooklyn/New York Americans, Montréal Wanderers, Philadelphia Quakers or Pittsburgh Pirates, Québec Bulldogs or even the original Senators for that matter.

Why is this?

Likely this has to do with prior the 1960s, teams wore literal sweaters, and due to manufacturing costs, these sweaters would be the cost of an authentic jersey. This is not likely in the budget for most jersey collectors, and with most fans not having heard of these teams outside of a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame, they would not spend the 300 dollars (not including customization) to get their hands on this replica of hockey history.

So why not put them on a regular CCM Vintage jersey? No idea! Perhaps the idea is that it'd be too inaccurate; any jersey that's based on a design prior to 1967 is based on a version worn either in 1992, one of the Winter Classics, or another fauxback such as the 1946 Montréal away, that has been worn several times between 2003 and today, and was at one point unofficially the team's alternate jersey.

So what do you think?
Would you buy a St. Louis Eagles sweater? What about the other pre-original 6 franchises?
Would you want to see your favourite NHL team throwback to these teams?
What is the time and place for this? Winter Classic? Warm Up? Alternate? Once a year throwback?

St. Louis's First NHL Team & Throwing Back Reviewed by winnipegjets96 on October 19, 2017 Rating: 5


Geoff said...

I would somewhat be interested in an Eagles jersey. I would be a lot more interested in some other more recent jerseys that I haven't seen available from a reputable dealer I trust recently in the CCM Vintage line. Capitals Eagle logo, RoboPen with the sublimated shoulder and chest stripe, Burger King, Flames with the angled hem stripe, and a Sharks jersey from their first redesign. Those are some of my top wants that I don't see available through my dealer

Burkus Circus said...

Here's my top 10:
10: Hamilton Tigers (Toronto Maple Leafs)
9: Montreal Maroons (Montreal Canadiens)
8: New York Americans (New York Rangers)
7: Pittsburgh Pirates (Pittsburgh Penguins)
6: St. Louis Eagles (St. Louis Blues)
5: Philadelphia Quakers (I don't count 2012 WC) (Philadelphia Flyers)
4: Montreal Wanderers (Montreal Canadiens)
3: Cleveland Barons (Columbus Blue Jackets)
2: California/Oakland Golden Seals (the teal jersey with yellow and white stripes) (San Jose Sharks)
1: Ottawa Senators (Ottawa Senators)

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