War and the Prospect of a 1915 Hockey Season

  • Posted on: 30 December 2014
  • By: lrigby
Frank Morrison New Glasgow Black Foxes

On August 4th 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany.  The next day, Canada followed, bringing the Dominion into the First World War.  As the Country militarized, manpower and resources that were previously dedicated to sport were needed for training and military requirements.  In some places, hockey teams lost access to arenas when they were granted to the military for their own use.  The MPHA was also impacted by these events,  Moncton who had initially intended to put a team back in the league decided to bow out and wait for the war to be over.  This left the four remaining teams with the decision of whether or not to continue on with professional hockey.

There was very little news about professional hockey up until the end of October.  Many were preoccupied by the war effort and the lackluster finances of last year's teams led most to believe that the professional league would not be continued.  However, on October 27th, the papers announced that the New Glasgow Black Foxes' management were planning to support a team for the upcoming season due to the fact that they had been able to secure some funding from some local businessmen.  Jimmy Fraser also spoke to the press and indicated that he did receive a contract offer from the Millionaires management leading many to believe that the Millionaires had intended to fund a franchise for the 1915 season.  There was still no word out of Halifax but it was felt that Halifax would most likely fund at least one team.

For the MPHA promoters, one of the many topics of interest for the upcoming season was the salaries being paid out the past few seasons.  To be competitive with the Upper Canadian franchises the MPHA teams had paid out large salaries to attract the best players in the country.  Unfortunately, this was not possible any longer since a few of  the teams could no longer finance large payrolls.  Chester Greggory of the Black Foxes iterated this by stating, "Now I do not expect to see such high salaries paid in Nova Scotia this season if a league is formed as in former seasons.  In the first place it would not be practical, in the second place it will not be possible and in the third place if anything of this nature is attempted it would wreck the prospects of a league; for if it is to be a three team league the success of the whole organization depends upon each and every team in it and in the manner in which they are able to make ends meet on the financial question."

When the end of November came and little news had surfaced about the future of the league, fans and reporters became nervous that there would be no professional hockey in the Maritimes for the 1915 season.  On reporter commented that "the difficulty seems to be that no person is willing to get busy, someone please start something."  Happily, a week later the Millionaires executive announced that they were ready to ice a team for the upcoming season.  When the New Glasgow contingent was questioned on whether or not they would have a team, they responded by stating that they were waiting to see if Gordon Isnor and the Halifax executives were planning to have a team before they committed to the league.

By December 15th, there was still no commitment to an organized professional league other then that of the Millionaire's executive.  Surprisingly, good news came from Glace Bay that a contingent of business men from that town were making offers to professional players in hopes of forming their own team.  Because Halifax and New Glasgow were yet to commit, there was also the strong possibility the an all Cape Breton professional league would be formed.  Glace Bay made offers to several New Glasgow players such as Chester Greggory and goalie Frank Morrison.  This revelation began a minor panic in New Glasgow and lit a fire under the New Glasgow management who figured they better get their club organized and contracts signed before their best players were signed away by Glace Bay.