Preparing for the Second Season
In the fall of 1911 the Halifax Rink Arena Manager Fred “Brownie” Mahar headed to Montreal to meet with representatives of the NHA and to inspect the “big rinks in upper Canada”. Mahar himself was a well known athlete in Halifax having previously competed for the Stanley Cup during a 1900 challenge series between the victorious Montreal Shamrocks and the Halifax Crescents amateur team. Mahar’s objective was to receive pointers from these executives that he could bring back to the Maritimes to “benefit Halifax’s big hockey and skating arena”. The Halifax Echo reported that Mahar had an “interesting talk with the President of the National Hockey Association, Emmett Quinn, who was only too pleased to give, for the benefit of Halifax, any information regarding the National Association and Canada’s great winter sport”. It was at this meeting that Emmett Quinn explained to Brownie Mahar the NHA’s reasoning for reducing the number of players on the ice from seven to six. Mr. Quinn indicated that the NHA was moving in this direction in order to speed up the game by dropping the rover position. Mr. Quinn also discussed the NHA’s idea of amalgamating every professional league in Canada into one grand organization similar to major league baseball at the time.
It was announced in the late fall of 1911 that Halifax was looking to add a second team to the professional league. It was assumed that one team would consist of imported players and the second team would consist of local professionals. The second team was to be named the Halifax Socials and would play in the same arena as the Crescents.
In a big move toward league credibility in late November, the executives of the Maritime Professional League began to send representatives to Upper Canadian cities on scouting missions in an attempt to sign the better players. These teams received an unexpected windfall when the Ontario Professional Hockey League folded after the 1911 hockey season. Rollie Norman, Moncton’s player/manager was able to sign several players from the defunct Galt franchise. Galt had challenged Ottawa for the Stanley Cup the previous season. Some of these players included Tommy Smith, Ras Murphy and Mike Murphy.
On November twenty-ninth 1911, it was announced that the Maritime Professional Hockey Association (MPHA) would adopt the National Hockey Association rules. This meant that the league would be converting to a six man game. Also, instead of the game consisting of two halves it would now consist of three twenty minute periods. It was also decided to allow the substitution of players whenever desired. The executive of the league was elected with J. C. Lithgow named President, F. P. Somner vice-president and Gordon Isnor, Secretary-Treasurer. A thirty-six game schedule was adopted which gave each team nine home games. The season was scheduled to begin on January 2nd 1912 and finish up on March 1st.
Great news came from the Ottawa Dispatch in late December that “the Stanley Cup trustees will probably lift the lid this season on the Maritime Provinces League, and accept a challenge from the Easterners with the holders of the NHA title, at the close of the 1912 season.” This was exciting news for the fans of the maritime league and many believed that their strong showing against the NHA’s Montreal Canadians the previous season went a long way towards increasing the credibility of their professional league.