1920–21 NHL season

The 1920–21 NHL season was the fourth season of the National Hockey League (NHL). Four teams each played 24 games in a split season. The Quebec franchise was transferred to Hamilton, Ontario, to become the Hamilton Tigers. The Ottawa Senators won the league championship in a playoff with the Toronto St. Patricks. The Senators went on to win the Stanley Cup by defeating the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association three games to two in a best-of-five series. This would be the last split season before the NHL changed its regular season and playoff formats.

1920–21 NHL season
LeagueNational Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationDecember 22, 1920 – March 14, 1921
Number of games24
Number of teams4
Regular season
Top scorerNewsy Lalonde (Canadiens)
O'Brien Cup
ChampionsOttawa Senators
  Runners-upToronto St. Patricks

League Business

Eddie Livingstone was again talking of creating a rival league and mentioned Hamilton as a city in his league. To head this off, league president Frank Calder got the owners of the league to admit a Hamilton franchise. As Abso-Pure had built an arena, all owners agreed that it would be wise to have a franchise in Hamilton. Because Quebec had done so badly the previous season, Calder said that Quebec's players would be given to Hamilton. Although Mike Quinn was non-committal at first, he finally sold the team to Hamilton and it became the Hamilton Tigers.

Regular season

The Tigers had some trouble signing Joe Malone from the Quebec days, but he finally did sign. The Tigers were awarded two players from the Senators, Punch Broadbent and Sprague Cleghorn by NHL president Calder, but both refused to sign with the Tigers, and eventually returned to the Senators.[1]

The Tigers stunned the Canadiens 5–0 in the team's first-ever game with Babe Dye starring and Howard Lockhart getting the only shutout of his NHL career.[1] The Toronto St. Patricks lost Corbett Denneny to injuries and recalled Dye from Hamilton, giving them Mickey Roach in his place.

Corbett Denneny scored six goals in a game January 26, 1921, helping the Toronto St. Patricks to wallop the Hamilton Tigers 10–3. Cy Denneny wasn't about to let his brother steal the thunder and he scored six goals himself in a March 7 game as the Ottawa Senators hammered the Hamilton Tigers 12–5. For the first time, a brother combination had scored six goals in a game the same season.

Also on January 26, 1921, the Ottawa Senators left the ice with 5:13 to play in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. According to the Senators, referee Cooper Smeaton was one-sided in favour of the Canadiens. Smeaton let the Canadiens continue to play, allowing goals by Newsy Lalonde and Amos Arbour before calling the game. Smeaton denied the claim, stating "a referee is always paid and receives the same salary, regardless what team wins." Smeaton would resign over the incident, but was convinced to return to refereeing later in the season. The Senators were fined $500 by NHL president Frank Calder for the incident.[1]

The Ottawa Senators won the first half of the split season while the Toronto St. Patricks won the second half.

Final standings

First Half
Ottawa Senators10820164923
Toronto St. Patricks10550103947
Montreal Canadiens1046083751
Hamilton Tigers1037063438
Second Half
Toronto St. Patricks141040206653
Montreal Canadiens14950187548
Ottawa Senators14680124852
Hamilton Tigers14311065894

[2] Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, GF= Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts = Points
Note: Teams that qualified for playoffs highlighted in bold.


NHL Championship

After the regular season, Toronto and Ottawa played a total-goals series for the O'Brien Cup and to compete for the Stanley Cup. Ottawa won by shutting out the St. Pats in both games. Ottawa then went on to play the Vancouver Millionaires of the PCHA.

Senators won series on total goals 7–0

Stanley Cup Finals

The five games were played in Denman Arena, Vancouver.

Ottawa won the series 3–2

Player statistics

Scoring leaders

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points

Player Team GP G A Pts
Newsy LalondeMontreal Canadiens24331043
Cecil "Babe" DyeHamilton Tigers / Toronto St. Pats2435540
Cy DennenyOttawa Senators2434539
Joe MaloneHamilton Tigers2028937
Frank NighborOttawa Senators24191029
Reg NobleToronto St. Patricks2419827
Harry CameronToronto St. Patricks2418927
George "Goldie" ProdgersHamilton Tigers2418927
Corbett DennenyToronto St. Patricks2019726
Jack DarraghOttawa Senators24111526

Source: NHL.[3]

Leading goaltenders

GP = Games Played, GA = Goals Against, SO = Shutouts, GAA = Goals Against Average

Name Team GP Mins W L T GA SO GAA
Clint Benedict Ottawa Senators241462141007523.08
Jake Forbes Toronto St. Patricks20122113707803.83
Georges Vezina Montreal Canadiens241441131109914.12
Howie Lockhart Hamilton Tigers241454618013215.45
Ivan Mitchell Toronto St. Patricks42402202205.50

Source: NHL[4]

NHL Playoff scoring leader

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Frank NighborOttawa Senators21342



The O'Brien Cup, still considered the championship of the NHA, was not awarded to Ottawa until November 1921. It had remained under the care of the Canadiens who had won it in 1917, until the death of their owner, George Kennedy in October 1921, when the NHL made arrangements to re-use the trophy.[5]



The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1920–21 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):

Last games

The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1920–21 (listed with their last team):

Free agency

February 23, 1921Leo ReiseHamilton Tigers


November 27, 1920 To Toronto St. Patricks
Harry Cameron
To Montreal Canadiens
Joe Matte
Goldie Prodgers
November 27, 1920 To Hamilton Tigers
Jack Coughlin
Joe Matte
Goldie Prodgers
Loan of Billy Coutu for the 1920-21 Season
To Montreal Canadiens
Jack McDonald
Harry Mummery
Dave Ritchie
December 16, 1920 To Hamilton Tigers
Howard Lockhart
To Toronto St. Patricks
January 4, 1921 To Montreal Canadiens
Rights to Punch Broadbent
Rights to Sprague Cleghorn
To Hamilton Tigers
January 21, 1921 To Hamilton Tigers
Mickey Roach
To Toronto St. Patricks
January 25, 1921 To Toronto St. Patricks
Sprague Cleghorn
To Hamilton Tigers
Future Considerations

See also


  • Coleman, Charles (1966). The Trail of the Stanley Cup, vol. 1, 1893–1926 inc.
  • Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Hockey. Total Sports. ISBN 1-892129-85-X.
  • Dinger, Ralph, ed. (2011). The National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2012. Dan Diamond & Associates. ISBN 978-1-894801-22-5.
  • Dryden, Steve, ed. (2000). Century of hockey. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart Ltd. ISBN 0-7710-4179-9.
  • Fischler, Stan; Fischler, Shirley; Hughes, Morgan; Romain, Joseph; Duplacey, James (2003). The Hockey Chronicle: Year-by-Year History of the National Hockey League. Publications International Inc. ISBN 0-7853-9624-1.
  • McFarlane, Brian (1973). The Story of the National Hockey League. New York, NY: Pagurian Press. ISBN 0-684-13424-1.
  1. Dryden 2000, p. 23.
  2. Standings: NHL Public Relations Department (2008). Dave McCarthy; et al. (eds.). THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE Official Guide & Record Book/2009. National Hockey League. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-894801-14-0.
  3. Dinger 2011, p. 145.
  4. "1920–21 Regular Season – Goalie Season Stats Leaders". NHL. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  5. "O'Brien Trophy To Be Given To Ottawa". The Morning Leader. Regina, Saskatchewan. November 17, 1921. p. 14. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
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