Forming the Millionaires

  • Posted on: 26 December 2014
  • By: lrigby

From the original announcement of Sydney’s desire to acquire professional hockey team, rumors began to circulate the city and make their way into the local newspapers about the players that would be signed for the professional squad.  The first speculation, coming shortly after the announcement, was that a local boy named Harvey Richardson would be heading home from Saskatchewan to play for them.  Harvey, born in Sydney, had played the previous season for the Saskatoon Hockey club.  His team was runner-up to the Prince Arthur Bears who went on to challenge the Ottawa Senators for the Stanley Cup that season.  From accounts in the western Canadian papers, Harvey was considered to “be one of the fastest and brainiest players in the west."

The second rumor making the rounds in Sydney came from Toby Macdonald who stated that Sydney was negotiating with the McNamara’s.  George and Howard McNamara were from Sault St. Marie, Ontario and had played defense for the Halifax Crescents the previous year. They were nicknamed the "Dynamite Twins" because of their size and ability to throw big body checks.  The Sydney Hockey Club was competing with the Halifax Crescents and several upper Canadian teams in attempting to sign these two big defensemen. Toby indicated that “if the McNamara brothers come east they will be with Sydney” Both brothers unfortunately signed with the Toronto Tecumsehs of the NHA for the 1913 season.

The Sydney Millionaires had already signed Toby MacDonald to play goal for their 1913 team and it appeared that Harvey Richardson was going to come home and play for the new team as well.  However the Millionaire’s executive still had to sign at least four other players plus a few spares.  At the initial meeting of the new Sydney Hockey Club sponsors, it was decided to send newly appointed secretary-treasure Charlie B. Ross on a scouting mission to Upper Canada in attempt to secure players for the Millionaires. 

Reports began filtering from Upper Canada on Charlie Ross’ progress.  Charlie arrived in Montreal on December 21, 1912 and began getting in touch with some of the NHA’s star players.  Ross’s first target was Didier Pitre who was currently starring with the Montreal Canadians; unfortunately Pitre had left the province and was headed to Toronto with the Canadians.  The fans of Sydney did not hold out much hope for the signing of Pitre since it was rumored that the skillful French Canadian was making three thousand a year playing for the Canadians.  Ross was also attempting to sign up Eddie Gerard who was reported to be a “crack left sider” of the New Edinburg team out of Ottawa.  Ross commented that he had made “a record offer” to Eddie, however, he lost out to the Ottawa Senators of the NHA.

During Charlie Ross’ trip to Upper Canada, Charlie was not only competing with the MPHA and the NHA teams for players but he was also competing with the Pacific Coast Hockey Association financed by the Patrick brothers.  One of the Upper Canadian papers went as far as to say that the Patrick brothers were financing the MPHA teams so they could compete for the higher priced NHA stars and outbid them in an “effort to break the back of the NHA”.  This rumor came to light after it was alleged that Sydney had offered Fred Lake two thousand dollars for the 1912 season.  Fred Lake, born in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, played for four seasons for the Ottawa Senators and had a reputation for rough hockey.  The Sydney papers rejected this stating that “it is generally safe to knock fifty to seventy five percent off that offer.” and that Sydney did not need the Patrick’s money as they had plenty of their own financing.  The Sydney Post expanded on this by stating “We’re an infant, it is true, but a lusty infant, and we can stand on our own feet, Thank you.”

It was obvious that the fans and press were grasping on every bit of information from C. B. Ross, waiting for good news of player signings in Upper Canada.  This was apparent from the statements in the Sydney Post that they were expecting a lot of Charlie Ross:

Charlie Ross will come back with a winning team.  He has the money to spend, and may be depended on to spend it judiciously.

   “And if the money doesn’t land the men, the Duke’s whiskers will.  When he puts on his ingratiating smile, takes an extra roll in his trouser legs and gets the proper point to the beard, there is not much that walks on two feet that can hold out long.  Those whiskers radiate a softening cheering influence, under which the most obdurate is bound to become pliant as wax.  The famous mantaliad has nothing on our Duke in the way of whiskers. It is safe betting that the club’s roll and that Vandyke will turn the trick between them.

 

Finally the news came on December 30th that Charlie Ross had signed two players of merit who were currently involved with NHA teams.  The first was Joe Tetreault.  Joe, born and raised in Montreal was the first spare for the Montreal Wanderers the previous season. Joe had played in various amateur leagues around Montreal before being hired by the Wanderers.  The Wanderers were interested in retaining Tetreault’s services for the 1913 season but a sizable offer from Sydney was able to draw him to the east coast.  The Second player signed was Alfred “Cap” MacDonald.  Cap was a journeyman player who was practicing with the Ottawa Senators when he was signed by Ross.  Cap was from Mattawa, Ontario and at the time was thirty-five years old. He began his hockey career in Smiths Falls in 1901 as an amateur. After turning professional, he played with such teams as Pittsburgh, Calumet, and Michigan.  He was hired by the Sydney Millionaires to captain and coach the new team.