NHL turns 90, Habs won on Opening Night

Joe Malone
Five goals on Opening Night
– Photo courtesy www.legendsofhockey.net

Join the National Hockey League on Wednesday in blowing out 90 candles.

Nine decades ago, on Dec. 19, 1917, the newly formed NHL began play with two victories by Montreal clubs which shared the Westmount Arena:

The Canadiens defeated Ottawa 7-4 on the strength of Joe Malone’s five goals, and the Montreal Wanderers downed the Toronto Arenas 10-9. The Wanderers lost their next five games and folded when the arena burned to the ground on Jan. 2, 1918.

The two winning teams had four nights earlier met in the league’s first exhibition game, a benefit for the survivors of the Halifax Explosion, a blast in Halifax harbour of a French cargo ship loaded with wartime ammunition. The tragedy killed an estimated 2,000 people and injured 9,000 more.

The Canadiens moved into 3,250-seat Jubilee Arena after the building fire, and have gone on to win 3,009 games in their 90-year NHL existence.


  1. 24 Cups says:

    I look forward to Dave Stubbs sharing his memories of what it was like to watch Joe Malone play that night. It must have been quite a thrill for a boy that was only in grade 7 at the time!

    The Original 24 Cups

  2. Dave Stubbs says:

    I was just a cub reporter at that game, changing typewriter ribbons for my mentor, Red Fisher.

    Dave Stubbs

    Habs Inside/Out
    Sports Feature Writer, Montreal Gazette


  3. nightmare_49 says:

    If i’m not mistaken i think Ian Cobb was at that game also.

  4. Ed says:

    That was 30 goals in just 2 games. I bet it was very exciting to watch, & I can just imagine what the atmosphere was like. It’s hard to beat those small arenas, & of course the memories get better with age.

    The mention of the exhibition game for the benefit of the Halifax Explosion is a nice touch. What a nice way to start the newly formed NHL.

  5. Sami says:

    A little bit off subject, but the City of Boston,MA still gets a “Thank you” Christmas tree every year (A big one) from Halifax for Boston’s humanitarian effort in sending up people and supplies to help out after the tragedy. Just a little history I thought I might contribute. Thanks Dave for a great article. Keep it up.

  6. Dave Stubbs says:

    Nothing I enjoy more than digging into hockey history, especially the rich history of the Canadiens, and I’m happy to hear the stories might find a few readers who welcome them. I’ve got a couple more in the pipeline that will appear in The Gazette, linked here, on Dec. 24 and 31. One fringe benefit to the Canadiens being on the road – I get to pause to look back.

    Dave Stubbs

    Habs Inside/Out
    Sports Feature Writer, Montreal Gazette


  7. Peter Young says:

    I’m only sorry I didn’t pump the old-timers for their memories when I was a boy. When I began following hockey in the early Fifties, there were men around still only in their forties and fifties who remembered seeing Joe Malone and Newsy Lalonde and the beginning of the NHL. Of course I didn’t appreciate the game’s historical side then. I do remember one old guy telling me Maurice Richard had nothing on Howie Morenz.

    One of the nice things about this forum is that Dave Stubbs gives us old guys ample opportunity to remember the old days. And if the younger fans are bored by it, they can just skip the thread. Our big advantage over the old-timers of my youth is that from 1945 to 1980, the Canadiens were perhaps the most successful team in all of sports. So our old days are also the great days. I doubt they’ll ever be matched.

  8. 24 Cups says:

    Just like the younger Canadiens learn from the likes of Koivu and Hamrlik so too will the younger guys on this site learn from us. It’s the passing of the torch from one generation of Habs fans to another.

    The Original 24 Cups

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