13The NHL Started over a Petty Feud
Before the NHL, there was the NHA – the National Hockey Association. Founded in 1909, the league eventually grew to 11 teams throughout Canada, swallowing teams from two competing hockey leagues.
What kicked off the fall of the NHA was the beginning of World War I in 1914. Most of the
league was either drafted or freely signed up to fight in Europe, and as a result, only five times ended up playing during most of the war.
But what really sank the NHA was a petty dispute between the NHA and one of their owners, Eddie Livingstone of the Toronto Shamrocks. Nobody in the NHA liked Livingstone due to his demeanor. He once asked the league to halt play while his two star players, brothers, took after their ill father. When WWI broke out and the talent pool evaporated, he purchased another NHA team, the Toronto Blueshirts. There were so few players though, he folded the Shamrocks and sent those players to play for the Blueshirts.
The league suspended play for the Blueshirts in 1917, vaguely stating that the team had broken rules, and sent Blueshirt players to play for other teams. Livingstone eventually sued the NHA, which resulted in the league breaking up, and it’s owner founding the NHL without Livingstone.