Over at SBNation.com, Adam Gretz has been publishing an awesome series he calls Lost Franchises, which looks back at some gone-but-not-forgotten NHL clubs of years past.
He's profiled the Quebec Nordiques and Seattle Metropolitans, as well as the Pittsburgh Pirates, a club that moved to Philadelphia in 1930 and played just one season here before folding completely. The Pirates switched their colors from black and gold to orange and black in the 1929-30 season and took those colors to Philly when they relocated, renaming themselves the Quakers. 37 years later, when the Philadelphia Flyers entered the league, they chose those same colors in part to honor the heritage of our city's first NHL club.
The Quakers may have been Philadelphia's first entry into the NHL, but in the mid-1940s, the then-dormant Montreal Maroons actually tried to move here. From Gretz's piece Tuesday on those Maroons:
The franchise remained suspended for another decade as team backers attempted to revive the franchise by moving it to Philadelphia, but those efforts ultimately came up short and the franchise was officially finished when the rights expired in 1947, nearly a decade after its final game.
The Maroons played their last game in 1939 and then shut the doors after the Depression-era realization that Montreal couldn't support two teams. They tried to move to St. Louis, but a team -- the St. Louis Eagles, who had relocated from Ottawa -- had already failed there earlier in the decade.
So after several years of the franchise sitting dormant, relocation hopes then turned to Philadelphia. Len Peto, a former Montreal Canadiens executive who was also part of the group that owned both the Maroons and Canadiens, moved to Philly and tried to bring the Maroons with him. From the New York Times in January 1946:
Mervyn Red Dutton, president of the N.H.L., told a reporter that he would back the move to bring the franchise of the dormant Montreal Maroons here under the direction of the Canadian sportsman, Leonard A. Peto.
Later, Tommy Gorman, general manager of the Canadian Arena Company at Montreal, said a bid by Peto for transfer of the franchise from Montreal to Philadelphia would be accepted by the Arena if the league board of governors approved the transaction. Dutton said official approval probably would be given at the board's meeting in New York on Feb. 15.
"We'll be glad to welcome Philadelphia into the National League," Dutton told a Philadelphia Evening Bulletin representative.
From the Times again two weeks later on February 15, 1946, just following those league meetings:
Among the several applications for franchises was one from Len Peto, Montreal and Philadelphia sportman whose aim it is to put a team in Philadelphia. His plan is to build a $2,500,000 rink to seat 20,000 on the site of the old Baker Bowl and to acquire the franchise of the old Montreal Maroons, held by the Canadian Arena Company, owner of the Montreal Canadiens.
The move is opposed by the minor professional American Hockey League, which formerly held a team in Philadelphia. [note: this refers to the Philadelphia Rockets.] According to National League officials though, no agreement exists with regard to territorial rights.
After Peto had presented his proposition in full detail his comment was that everything was satisfactory. Mervyn (Red) Dutton, league president, said no action would be taken on the proposal at the current session.
On August 17, 1947, the Times ran an AP story entitled "Revival of Maroon Six For Philadelphia Seen":
It was learned at league headquarters today that the group, headed by Len Peto of Montreal, has not yet been granted the franchise, but an advertisement in a Winnipeg paper seeking players for the "Maroon Hockey Club, National Hockey League, 1948," was believed to indicate that negotiations of nearly a year are almost concluded.
There was talk some time ago that Philadelphia, which has a team in the American Hockey League, might come into the N.H.L. this fall but difficulties in obtaining a rink delayed the project for at least a year. It is believed likely, however, that if a rink can be built by the fall of 1948, the new Maroons will begin play then.
As you can easily assume, that rink was never built. The NHL's main condition for approving relocation of the Maroons to Philadelphia was therink, considering Philadelphia Arena -- former home of the Quakers and those AHL teams -- only seated a little more than 5,000 fans and was not really a great venue for NHL hockey.
Ultimately, the failure by Leto to get a new building constructed in Philadelphia led to the end of the Maroons.
Well after the effects of the Depression were over in 1954, the league actually proposed bringing another team back to Montreal, since the Montreal Forum at the time seated just about 15,000 and the AP wrote that "thousands of fans are turned away nightly."
But that never came to fruition either, and between 1942 and 1967, when the Flyers and five other teams entered the league, the NHL saw the longest period of franchise stability in its history. Today, we know that time as the Original 6 era.