Pacific Coast Hockey Association

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The Pacific Coast Hockey Association ( PCHA ) was a professional North American ice hockey league that was founded in December 1911 and existed until 1924.


The beginnings of the PCHA (1911–1913)

League co-founder Lester Patrick

Brothers Frank and Lester Patrick moved from Québec to British Columbia with their father Joseph, a businessman who had made a sizable fortune from his logging business. After the successful relocation of the business, Joseph Patrick withdrew from the business and supported his two sons financially in their plan to found their own professional ice hockey league in western Canada. On December 7, 1911, the establishment of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association was officially announced. The rules and constitution of the league were largely taken over from the National Hockey Association , a league that was operating in eastern Canada at the time and with which one now competed. One of the biggest differences, however, was that the PCHA continued to operate with seven players per team, while in the NHA the position of rover had already been abolished. The league's first president was WP Irving, who had previously held a leadership role in the Ontario Hockey Association . In its inaugural season , the league started with three teams - the New Westminster Royals , Vancouver Millionaires and Victoria Senators . In order to maintain a status similar to that of the competing NHA or even surpass it, it was decided to build an arena in Vancouver that offered space for 10,000 spectators and cost 175,000 dollars. This made it the second largest arena in North America after Madison Square Garden in New York City and the first in Canada to be played on artificial ice. Other projects included the construction of a 4,000-seat arena in Victoria and the construction of an arena in New Westminster. The latter was not completed in time, so the Royals decided to play their home games in Vancouver for the time being. In order to be able to offer good ice hockey in addition to high quality infrastructure, the Patrick brothers decided to poach several players from the NHA, a measure that was increasingly intensified in the following years. The New Westminster Royals became the first PCHA champions due to their first place in the regular season, as there were no playoffs at that time. For the 1912/13 season CE Doherty took over the office of President of the PCHA. Due to the great popularity of the sport in Western Canada, the decision was made to hold two games in Calgary , Alberta and Regina , Saskatchewan towards the end of the second season . As a result of the increased acceptance of the PCHA, the Quebec Bulldogs from the National Hockey Association, who were also reigning Stanley Cup winners, took on the challenge of the Victoria Senators, who became PCHA champions on the second attempt, and played a series of three games against each other, although at this point the games were still purely a test. The problem here was the different number of players who were used in the various leagues. Ultimately, it was decided to play games 1 and 3 with seven players per team, as is usual in the PCHA, and the second game based on the NHA model with six players per team. In the end, both teams won the games that were played as it was customary in their own league.

Competition with the NHA and expansion into the USA (1913–1918)

The Vancouver Millionaires' Stanley Cup winning team

For the 1913/14 season , Frank Patrick himself took over the office of President of the PCHA. At the end of the season it was decided to relocate the indebted New Westminster Royals to Portland , Oregon , making the PCHA the first professional sports league ever to expand from Canada to the United States . The Rosebuds were also the first team that had the theoretical opportunities to play the Stanley Cup. In 1914, the reigning PCHA champion Victoria Aristocrats was the first team in the league to officially take part in play-offs for the Stanley Cup, with the PCHA officials forgetting to send off an official challenge. In any case, the Cougars lost the best-of-three series against the Toronto Blueshirts from the NHA with a sweep . In the season 1914/15 , the Vancouver Millionaires made history. First they won the championship title of the PCHA, whereupon they became the first team in the league to ever win the Stanley Cup, after beating the Ottawa Senators with three wins in three games in the Challenge Games. For the 1915/16 season , another US team was added with the Seattle Metropolitans .

1917 Seattle Metropolitans team photo as Stanley Cup winners

For the following season it was decided to move to Spokane , Washington , the Victoria Artistocrats, who only attracted a few spectators due to their last place in the table . There they played for a year under the name Spokane Canaries . This was the first and only season in which more US teams played in the PCHA, while Canada was only represented by the Vancouver Millionaires. In that season, the Seattle Metropolitans won the PCHA title and finally became the first US team to win the Stanley Cup when they beat the Canadiens de Montréal from the NHA with 3-1 wins in the best-of-five series. This made them the last PCHA team to prevail in the Stanley Cup games. For the 1917/18 season , the Spokane Canaries were excluded from the league and this was reduced back to the original number of three teams. At the same time, two playoffs for the championship title were introduced between the first and second placed, with the team with the better overall goal difference receiving the championship title.

Downfall of the PCHA (1918–1924)

At the beginning of the 1919 season , PCHA made another franchise change. The Portland Rosebuds stopped playing due to low audience numbers, while the Victoria Artistocrats resumed playing after a two-year break. One of the biggest changes for the PCHA followed in 1921 with the formation of the Western Canada Hockey League . Now another competitor emerged in terms of signing the best Canadian players. In addition, the champions of the PCHA first had to compete against the winner of the WCHL in order to be able to compete against the winner of the National Hockey League founded in 1917 for the Stanley Cup. From the 1922/23 season onwards, the newly created situation with three major leagues was perceived as an opportunity and the PCHA played from then on during the regular season against the teams of the Western Canada Hockey League. For this reason, a solution had to be found to the problem that the PCHA still competed with seven players, while the NHL and WCHL used six players in their competitions. Finally, the PCHA also decided to give up the position of the rover and adapted its own rules to those of the other two professional leagues in important points. The Vancouver Millionaires changed their name to Vancouver Maroons after eight years. While the PCHA teams were initially still dominant in their games against the opponents from the WCHL, they lost a total of 29 of 48 games against the competition from the WCHL in the 1923/24 season . Following this season, the Seattle Metropolitans were dissolved and the remaining two teams of the PCHA from Vancouver and Victoria joined the Western Canadian Hockey League. Some of the Seattle players also switched to the WCHL.

Innovations from PCHA

Long-time President Frank Patrick

The brothers Frank and Lester Patrick introduced numerous innovations to the rules of the game in their league, which were later adopted by the National Hockey League and are still valid worldwide today. These include the introduction of the forward pass, the division of the playing field into three zones, the award of penalty shots, two-minute penalties, that you can play the puck with the skate but not score a goal with it, and numerous other small and large rule changes.

PCHA presidents

  • WP Irving (1911-1912)
  • CE Doherty (1912-1913)
  • Frank Patrick (1913-1924)




  • Dan Diamond (Ed.): Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League . 1st edition. Total Sports, 1998, ISBN 0-8362-7114-9 .

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