A friend was marveling about Vancouver hockey fans going bat-bleep crazy as the hometown Canucks skate their way toward a Stanley Cup victory, believed by some to be the first ever for British Columbia should the two-match-up club prevail in its series against the Big Bad Boston Bruins.
“I wonder,” the friend said, “what it would be like a) if Seattle ever got an NHL franchise and b) we hosted the Stanley Cup finals.”
I noted that a) various Pacific Northwest authorities have spoken perennially about luring a National Hockey League franchise and b) Seattle long since won the Stanley Cup — was, in fact, the first U.S. city to claim the aged prize.
The latter remark brought understandable laughter until I Googled a wiki entry that indicates what many have known for, oh, 94 years: The 1916-17 Seattle Metropolitans beat — beat the bat-bleep out of, actually — the Montreal Canadiens, three games to one. Records indicate that the Mets outscored what would become the frequent Stanley champ 19 goals to three.
The Seattle franchise would play in the Stanley finals of 1919, when the tied series was suspended because of a flu pandemic, and in 1920, losing to Ottawa. The Mets, apparently drawing high-school-size crowds, suspended operations in 1924.
Since then Seattle, of course, has hosted minor-league hockey The closest the area apparently came to getting an NHL contingent was with the awarding of a “conditional” franchise in 1976. It would’ve completed a big-league trifecta, what with the Seahawks (’76) and Mariners (’77) starting play at about the same time.
Since then the NHL has become a Sun Belt attraction, with sunny Tampa Bay winning the Stanley Cup in 2004. The Lightning franchise was born during the early '90s as part of an expansion that nearly included a group from Seattle.
The question of NHL efficacy in Seattle comes up seemingly every year. While some of us were in Vancouver last year to witness Olympic-hockey mania, a Seattlepi.com writer was posting an open blog question as to whether Seattle-Tacoma fans would support a big-league franchise. Not surprisingly, some would and some wouldn’t.
As always, talk is cheap and the NHL ain’t. Some big-league skaters make (and if you watch what they do, “make” is scarcely an exaggeration) millions and ticket prices reflect the expense.
Indeed, it wouldn’t necessarily be untoward to refer to the Vancouver franchise not as the Canucks but the Millionaires. It even would be nostalgic.
The reason: Vancouver, far from starving for a Stanley Cup, actually earned its first such title two years prior to the Seattle Mets’ epic season. And, yes, that 1915 Vancouver franchise had as it nickname the Millionaires.