“Canadiens Now World Champions In All Reality,” the headline in the Montreal Daily Star read, and it was true, and real: 99 years ago, on a Tuesday of this date in 1924, the Montreal Canadiens did claim the club’s second Stanley Cup championship, their first in the NHL era. They did so with a potent roster that included Howie Morenz, Georges Vézina, and the Cleghorn brothers, Odie and Sprague.
Their opponents in the finals were the Calgary Tigers, champions of the WCHL, who iced an impressive line-up of their own. Owned and coached by Lloyd Turner, the team featured a defence anchored by Herb Gardiner, who’d soon enough end up a Canadien himself, and the redoubtable Red Dutton, the future (interim) president of the NHL. At forward they counted on Bernie Morris, the former Seattle Met who missed the foreshortened 1919 Stanley Cup finals due to having been jailed by the U.S. Army for evading the draft, and Harry Oliver, a future Boston Bruin. They also counted on veterans Rusty Crawford, Cully Wilson, and Eddie Oatman, Cup-winners all. Spare defenceman Bobby Benson had won a gold medal at the 1920 Olympics as a member of the Winnipeg Falcons.
Canadiens dispensed with the Tigers in a two-game sweep, beating them 6-1 at the Mount Royal Arena on March 22 and then wrapping up the Cup with a 3-0 win three days later. That game was actually played in Ottawa, at the Auditorium, due to the softening of the ice in Montreal. Art Ross was the referee on the night, and Morenz distinguished himself by scoring the game’s winning goal. He was also in bad collision with Red Dutton, which sent him to hospital in the second period with an injured chest and torn ligaments in his shoulder.
“We are naturally disappointed in losing out in the final series,” Turner said, “but we have no complaints to make. Canadiens have a fine team. We hope in time that we will gather together a team which will come down east and lift the Stanley Cup. We’ll do it eventually. We’re not going to lose heart because of the setbacks we have received.”
(Images: Courtesy of Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary)