The story of the Vancouver Millionaires
By Mo Hussain, Sports Reporter
Last week, we covered how the Vancouver Millionaires were the first and only team to have brought a Stanley cup to Vancouver.
In this piece, the Millionaires are still the key focus except we are now shifting towards the unique origin of this team and the kind of impact that the founders of the team have made on the hockey world. The story is quite unique because one of the founders did not just own the Millionaires franchise, but one of the founders played for the team and was part-owner of the rest of the league as well.
“The Patricks were great entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors,” said John Taylor, son of former Millionaries forward Cyclone Taylor in a 1997 interview.
Brothers Lester and Frank Patrick founded the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA), after their father sold the family’s lucrative lumber business for them to have enough money for them to build an arena.
“They built an arena here in the summer of 1911 that seated 10,500 people, which was the largest arena of its size in Canada at that time and for many years after they installed an artificial ice plant which was the first in Canada, in Victoria and Vancouver.” said former Millionaires player Cyclone Taylor in a 1970 interview.
The first three teams in the league were the New Westminster Royals, Victoria Senators, and the Vancouver Millionaires.
Frank ended up playing for the Millionaires, making him what could be one of the only people to have not only have played on a team that he had a stake in, but to have also played in an entire league that he helped found.
According to Cyclone, the brothers also picked up “twenty-five of the best top-flight players playing from cities such as Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa” and transferred them to Vancouver.
The PCHA would later form a partnership with the eastern-based National Hockey Association (NHA), agreeing among other things that the winner of each league’s championship would face off with one another and play for the Stanley Cup.
The PCHA was up and running until the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) was established. The teams in Vancouver and Victoria decided to join the WCHL in 1924, ultimately putting an end to the PCHA.
However, Frank Patrick and the rest of the PCHA played a huge role in shaping the way hockey is played today by establishing many different aspects of the game that had not been introduced prior.
He is also credited with being the first to put numbers on the back of uniforms, although that is still up for debate. The Patrick brothers were also the first to switch the structure of a hockey game from two thirty-minute halves, to three twenty-minute periods.
The Patricks and the rest of the PCHA had also innovated plenty of other aspects that we now see, and without them, who knows where hockey would be today.