When The Stanley Cup Was Affected By A Pandemic

We are still not sure how the current COVID-19 pandemic will affect this season’s Stanley Cup Final but we can look back to see how a similar pandemic affected the 1919 final. In 1919, the Spanish Flu outbreak impacted the Stanley Cup Final when it was cancelled after five games and no champion was crowned.

The final featured the Seattle Metropolitans of Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) champions hosting the Montreal Canadiens of National Hockey League (NHL). Seattle was the host of the Stanley Cup Finals which was a best-of-five series.

Game #1 – Seattle 7, Montreal 0: Seattle took advantage of playing by PCHA rules as they scored two in the first period, three in the second and two in the third.

Game #2 – Montreal 4, Seattle 2: The Canadiens evened the series in game two with Newsy Lalonde scoring all of Montreal’s goals. Montreal took the lead and never relinquished it, although Seattle scored two in the third in 32 seconds to make it close.

Game #3 – Seattle 7, Montreal 2: Seattle scored four goals in the first to take a commanding lead. No goals were scored in the second. In the third, Seattle prevented any comeback, outscoring Montreal 3–2.

Game #4 – Montreal 0, Seattle 0: Ended in a tie after 20 minutes of overtime, with both Holmes and Montreal’s Georges Vezina blocking every shot. At the end of the first period, the Seattle’s Cully Wilson scored a goal but it was waved off as it was scored just after he had blown the period’s final whistle. Near the close of the second overtime, Louis Berlinguette of Montreal had an outstanding chance to win it but missed by inches. At the end of the game, players laid collapsed across the ice, the crowd gave both teams an ovation after the game in appreciation of the teams’ play.

Game #5 – Montreal 4, Seattle 3: Montreal rallied from a 3–0 deficit after two periods and scored three to force overtime. Montreal’s Jack McDonald scored the game winning goal with Seattle down a player when Frank Foyston was injured.

The teams had planned to play the series deciding game on April 1st but the Spanish Flu outbreak affected several players on both teams. Newsy Lalonde, Joe Hall, Winfred Billy Coutu, Louis Berlinguette and Jack McDonald of Montreal were sick with high fevers. Montreal was going to forfeit the Cup to Seattle but Seattle’s manager/coach Pete Mudoon refused since it was a result of the illness.

Four days later, Montreal’s Joe Hall died of pneumonia brought about by the flu. His funeral was held in Vancouver on April 8, with most team members attending. Manager George Kennedy also fell ill. He seemed to recover and was released from the hospital, but he died a few days later.

No official Stanley Cup winner was declared in 1919. None of their names were engraved onto the trophy; however, when the Cup was redesigned in 1948 and a new collar was added to include those teams that did not engrave their names on the trophy.