Looking Back on The Forward Pass

Vancouver Millionaires 1914-15
This week I’m looking back at the invention of the forward pass in hockey. Way back when hockey first started out, players were not allowed to pass the puck forward. Hockey was played in a similar fashion to modern day rugby, where players would line up and pass back and forth to each other trying to spring a player who could skate the puck up the ice past the defense and create scoring opportunities.

As you can imagine, without the ability to pass the puck forward the flow of the game was considerably slower than today’s game. This meant that players didn’t tire as quickly as they do today. There wasn’t the frantic pace to the game that we see today, and most good players at the turn of the 20th century would play 50-60 minutes a game with only a couple substitutions per team. The longer a game would go the more important fit and fast players became. Players able to speed past defends and generate scoring opportunities were essential to good teams.

In 1913 Frank Patrick, and his brother Lester, were running the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). A league they had started in 1911 which they hoped would rival the National Hockey Association (NHA); the precursor to the NHL. Always looking to innovate the game, the Patricks decided to allow forward passing within the center third of the ice. What we now call the neutral zone.

Forward passing did not sit well with many hockey purists of the day. Many felt that this would lead to more loafing. Loafing was a penalty at the time, as it was considered unsportsmanlike to stand around while your team is battling for the puck or trying to make plays. Purists felt that forward passing would allow players to loaf at center ice while waiting for a pass. Basically, they didn’t want cherrypickers. Also, it was felt that forward passing would ruin the strategy of the game and somehow make it less pure. Advocates for the forward pass made comparisons to lacrosse and American football as sports where forward passing didn’t hurt the overall game. (American football had just allowed forward passing in 1906 after 18 people across the country died due to mass scrums)

After the end of the 1913-14 season, the PCHA champion Victoria Aristocrats traveled to Toronto to take on the Toronto Blueshirts(now called the Maple Leafs) of the NHA for the World Champion and the Stanley Cup. Because the two leagues played with different rules, the series would be played with alternating rules per game depending on who was considered the home team. Not over did this mean that there would be no forward passing in Toronto home games, but at the time the NHA also played with a 7th skater, the Rover. Toronto would go on to win the series 3-0, but Victoria felt that goaltending was the difference and it wasn’t due to their style of play.

The following year, Frank Patrick would assemble a fantastic Vancouver Millionaires team which he both played for and coached. The star of the team was Cyclone Taylor, who had formerly played in the NHA and had once stated that he was opposed to the forward pass. However, it was clear that with his skill the forward pass would only help his game.

Vancouver would win the PCHA championship and would play Ottawa of the NHA for the Stanley Cup in 1915. Ottawa was the club Cyclone Taylor has played on when he first won the Stanley Cup in 1909. Ottawa was so sure they would win the Stanley Cup that the NHA didn’t even bring it with them to Vancouver.

At this point, NHA teams has been practicing the forward pass in anticipation of playing PCHA teams at the end of the year. However, since Vancouver was accustomed to it, they were able to come out flying. After taking game one of the series, playing with the forward pass, game two would be played without forward passing. However, because Vancouver had been used to playing a faster paced game all year long they were able to eventually wear down Ottawa. By the third period Ottawa was gassed and would go on to lose 8-3. The third game was even worse, as Vancouver won 12-3 playing with the forward pass, legitimising the strategy and rule change.

The NHA would fold after one more season, and it would take until 1918-19 for the NHL to adopt its own forward passing rule, but the PCHA changed the way hockey was played forever in 1913. Proving that the west coast is the best coast.


NHL Team’s AHL Affiliates Origins

Most NHL fans are aware that each team in the league has an AHL affiliate. However, not everyone knows how or when each of their teams became affiliated with their AHL counterpart. I thought it would interesting to see when this happened for each team.

Anaheim Ducks – AHL Affiliate Norfolk Admirals.
One of the most recent team affiliations, the Admirals became Anaheim’s developmental AHL team in 2012 after the Tampa Bay Lightning moved their players from Norfolk to Syracuse.
Norfolk Admirals

Arizona Coyotes – AHL Affiliate Portland Pirates.
The then Phoenix Coyotes agreed to a five year developmental deal with the Portland Pirates in June of 2011.
Portland Pirates

Boston Bruins – AHL Affiliate Providence Bruins.
The Providence Bruins entered the AHL in 1992 as Boston’s affiliate and have remained as such since.
Providence Bruins

Buffalo Sabres – AHL Affiliate Rochester Americans.
Buffalo Sabres ownership purchased the Americans prior to the 1979-80 season, establishing them as their AHL affiliate until 2007-08. After a brief period where the team was affiliated with the Florida Panthers, Buffalo once again established ties with the team in 2011.
Rochester Americans

Calgary Flames – AHL Affiliate Adirondack Flames.
2014-15 will be the first year that Calgary has affiliated with Adirondack, and the inaugural season for the AHL’s Flames.
Adirondack Flames

Carolina Hurricanes – AHL Affiliate Charlotte Checkers.
Charlotte became Carolina’s affiliate in 2010 after moving from the ECHL to the AHL.
Charlotte Checkers

Chicago Blackhawks – AHL Affiliate Rockford IceHogs.
The IceHogs have been Chicago’s affiliate since the 2007-08 season, after moving to the AHL from the UHL.
Rockford IceHogs

Colorado Avalanche – AHL Affiliate Lake Erie Monsters.
Formerly the Utah Grizzlies, the Lake Erie Monsters have been Colorado’s affiliate since 2007.
Lake Erie Monsters

Columbus Blue Jackets – AHL Affiliate Springfield Falcons.
Columbus and Springfield have been affiliated since 2010. This is the seventh different team Springfield has been affiliated with since joining the AHL.
Springfield Falcons

Dallas Stars – AHL Affiliate Texas Stars.
The Texas Stars have been Dallas’ affiliate since 2009, when their former AHL affiliate the Iowa Stars folded.
Texas Stars

Detroit Red Wings – AHL Affiliate Grand Rapid Griffons.
One of the longer affiliated teams in the AHL, Grand Rapids has been Detroit’s developmental team since 2002.
Grand Rapids Griffons

Edmonton Oilers – AHL Affiliate Oklahoma City Oil Barons.
The Oil Barons have been the Oiler’s affiliate since joining the AHL in 2010.
Oklahoma City Oil Barons

Florida Panthers – AHL Affiliate San Antonio Rampage.
This is the second time that the Panthers have affiliated with San Antonio. The first was from 2002-2005 and the current stint started in 2011.
San Antonio Rampage

Los Angeles Kings – AHL Affiliate Manchester Monarchs.
The Monarchs were purchased by the Kings in 2000 and have been their affiliate since joining the AHL in 2001.
Manchester Monarchs

Minnesota Wild – AHL Affiliate Iowa Wild.
Previously the Houston Aeros, the Iowa Wild moved, changed their name, relocated, and became affiliated with Minnesota to start the 2013-14 season.
Iowa Wild

Montreal Canadiens – AHL Affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs.
After sharing the Bulldogs with the Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Dallas Stars for several years, the Canadiens became their sole NHL parent team in 2006.
Hamilton Bulldogs

Nashville Predators – AHL Affiliate Milwaukee Admirals.
One of two Admiral teams in the AHL, Milwaukee was one of several teams that merged with the AHL from the folded IHL league. They have been Nashville’s AHL affiliate since joining the league in 2001.
Milwaukee Admirals

New Jersey Devils – AHL Affiliate Albany Devils.
Formerly the Lowell Devils, this franchise has been affiliate with New Jersey since 2006. They moved to Albany in 2010 however.
Albany Devils

New York Islanders – AHL Affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The Sound Tigers have been the Islanders AHL affiliate since joining the league in 2001.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers

New York Rangers – AHL Affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack.
New York has been affiliated with this franchise since 1997. During that time the team was known has both the Hartford Wolf Pack and at times the Connecticut Whale.
Hartford Wolk Pack

Ottawa Senators – AHL Affiliate Binghamton Senators.
Binghamton has been Ottawa’s affiliate since rejoining the AHL in 2002 after a hiatus from the league and relocation from Prince Edward Island after temporarily ceasing operations in 1996.
Binghamton Senators

Philadelphia Flyers – AHL Affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
This upcoming 2014-25 season will be the first for this franchise in Lehigh. However, the Phantoms have been the Flyers AHL affiliate since 1996-97.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Pittsburgh Penguins – AHL Affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The “Baby Penguins” franchise has been their NHL team’s affiliate since joining the AHL in 1999.
Wilkes-Barre-Scranton Penguins

San Jose Sharks – AHL Affiliate Worcester Sharks
San Jose has has an affiliation with this franchise since 2001 when they were the Cleveland Barons. The franchise moved to Worcester in 2006.
Worcester Sharks

St. Louis Blues – AHL Affiliate Chicago Wolves
2013-14 was the first year that the Wolves and Blues have been affiliated. Amazingly, the Wolves franchise has never has a losing season even though they’ve had multiple NHL teams affiliated throughout their history.
Chicago Wolves

Tampa Bay Lightning – AHL Affiliate Syracuse Crunch.
Tampa Bay switched their affiliation from Norfolk to Syracuse to begin the 2012-12 season. Basically trading AHL teams with Anaheim, who moved their team from Syracuse to Norfolk.
Syracuse Crunch

Toronto Maple Leafs – AHL Affiliate Toronto Marlies.
Probably the most storied minor league affiliation, this franchise has been the Maple Leafs developmentally team through three name changes and relocations. This franchise begin in 1978 as the St. Catherine’s Saints, before moving to Newmarket where they kept their nickname. After this they moved to St. John’s becoming the St. John’s Maple Leafs, before finally moving to Toronto and changing their name to the Marlies in 2005.
Toronto Marlies

Vancouver Canucks – AHL Affiliate Utica Comets.
One of the oldest minor league teams in the country, this team has been through many name changes and relocations since it’s founding in 1932. However, they’ve only been Vancouver’s AHL affiliate since 2013-14 when they move from Peoria to Utica.
Utica Comets

Washington Capitals – AHL Affiliate Hershey Bears.
Hershey is the longest continuously operating team in the AHL. They have been playing in the league since 1938 and have won more Calder Cups than any other team in the league. They became the AHL affiliate for the Capitals in 2005.
Hershey Bears

Winnipeg Jets – AHL Affiliate St. John’s IceCaps.
When the Atlanta Thrashers were purchased and moved to Winnipeg, the ownership wanted to have a minor league team closer to the NHL parent team. Because of this, the Manitoba Moose were relocated to St. Johns and became the Jets AHL affiliate to start the 2011-12 season.
St Johns IceCaps

Thanks for reading all of this if you did!

Wayback Wednesday

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of Wayback Wednesday.This will be a weekly thread in which we talk about the history of hockey. This can be anything from a historic game (USA-USSR in 1980) or series (1972 Summit Series), to a historic event that altered the NHL (Ted Lindsey forming the NHLPA). As long as it’s hockey related, and historic, we’re interested in it.

I thought up this thread and /u/trex20 from Reddit has agreed to help me with this and contribute content, but I would love to have more people contribute with ideas or writing as well. As this hopefully develops and evolves we’ll get more feedback from the community and be able to generate better content for the community here.

For this first edition we thought we should go over some firsts for hockey. What are the first things you need to play hockey? Skates of course. But skates aren’t exactly hockey-centric as they were around for thousands of years before hockey was played. Did you know the Fins invented skating? And that it’s the oldest human-powered means of transportation?


Skates are of course essential to playing ice or roller hockey, but you don’t need skates to play floor hockey. So what is the first thing you need to play hockey? A puck? Well, some forms of hockey use a ball. In fact, as /u/MrPennyWhistle shared with us earlier this week even the first ice hockey games were played with a ball.


There are numerous varieties of hockey played throughout the world, each with different rules and equipment but in each there is one common thing you’ll need. A stick.

The first ice hockey sticks were made by the Mi’kmaq people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mi%27kmaq_people#Mic-Mac_hockey_sticks) of Nova Scotia as early as the 18th century. These native Canadians would capitalize on the growth of hockey and during the late 1800’s thru the early 1900’s their Mic-Mac stick would become the most popular stick in the Canada.

Now we’re ready to play hockey! We have our skates, a puck and a stick. That’s all you really need right? Well, in theory, you could play with just those. The game did start that way over 150 years ago. But today we know it’s best to have more equipment than just that. One of the most important of which are gloves. Originally hockey players mainly wore gloves to protect their hands from the cold. Additional padding was added as the game evolved, but it was in 1931 when the first major design change in gloves happened. After Montreal Maroons star Babe Siebert (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babe_Siebert) suffered a broken thumb, trainer Bill O’Brien put a shoehorn inside Siebert’s glove to provide reinforcement and protection to his thumb. This clever invention was the impetus for the reinforced fiber thumb which would become a staple on hockey gloves in the 1930’s. (http://stars.nhl.com/ext/pdf/NHL_UniformBooklet.pdf)

Believe it or not, goaltenders used to use the same gloves as every other skater on the rink. That all changed though with one man that /u/trex20 will tell you about.

Emile “The Cat” Francis’ on-ice NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers was not what you’d call remarkable. A mid-season call-up for in 1947, he tended for a basement-dwelling Chicago team and then moved on to Chicago to be an occasional back-up. While his play was unremarkable, he managed to become an innovator for his sport not once, but twice.

In a game against the Detroit Red Wings, Francis took the ice wearing a modified baseball mitt on his left hand. Francis felt the usual glove – the same as the ones used by forwards- didn’t have enough protection, so he looked to his background in baseball to remedy the issue, later saying-

“The old goal gloves were five-fingered gloves with a little wee webbing between your forefinger and your thumb. It wasn’t two inches wide, so as a result, every time you caught a puck, it caught you right in the middle of your hand. I can still feel bruises today! Because of baseball, I got a first baseman’s mitt. It was a George McQuinn model made by Rawlings. He played for the New York Yankees. At training camp, I asked the trainer to take the glove to a shoemaker and have him take the cuff off an old hockey glove and sew it onto the baseball glove. I used that glove.”

When Jack Adams, the Red Wings coach, saw Francis’ glove during warm-ups, he protested and the refs told Francis he couldn’t use the glove (which he had been using in the minors without incident). Francis, knowing there was no back-up goalie, stood his ground saying “‘If I can’t use this glove, you’ve got no game tonight! I don’t have any other glove and I have no intention of using any other glove. I’m not using a forward’s glove to play goal.’”

The next day the team traveled to Montréal for a game against the Canadiens and Francis met with NHL President Clarence Campbell. After an hour of questioning, Campbell declared Francis’ glove legal. According to Francis, sporting goods companies began manufacturing the gloves within a month. They quickly caught on throughout the hockey world.

Francis didn’t stop there though. After getting approval for his glove, he switched his efforts to other hand, having the Blackhawks trainer tape sponge rubber to his stick-hand glove. This became what we now know as the blocker.


Francis went on to have a successful career behind the bench and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builder category in 1982, but his influence on the game started decades earlier on the ice as a call-up for a last place team, making goaltending safer (and less painful) for goalies everywhere.

For further reading (and to see the sources I used) check out these links- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emile_Francis


and Hockey’s Book of Firsts by James Duplacey

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please let us know what other firsts you think are interesting or that stand out in hockey history.

If you have a topic you’d be interested in having us research next week please PM myself or /u/trex20. Or let us know if you want to write a piece one week.