1913 Off-Season -Part 5: Amherst Snub, New President, New Powers & Big Salaries
It was announced on November 4th, that George Stewart, a former MPHA player originally of Sackville New Brunswick was completing an application for an Amherst team in the MPHA. Stewart who was reportedly backed by several businessmen in Amherst went as far as to request the release of several Amherst men currently playing in the MPHA with the Halifax Socials. The one major stumbling block to Amherst's application was the size of it's rink. Many believed that Amherst did not have a rink large enough to support a professional team.
The first meeting on November 6th 1913 of the MPHA executive was attended by President J.C. Lithgow, Gordon Isnor of the Halifax Socials, J.T. Murphy and James Cosgrove of the Halifax Crescents, newly appointed team President J.C. Larder and D. J. Buckley of Sydney along with James Morrison representing Glace Bay's interests. Noticeably absent were representatives from New Glasgow and the now defunct Moncton team. There was also no Amherst contingent represented at the meeting.
A resolution was passed by the group to take over the services of the Moncton players and allow the teams in the MPHA the liberty of negotiating for their services. The group also unanimously passed a resolution to give the President of the MPHA the same powers as President Quinn had in the NHA. The MPHA president would now have the power to dole out suspensions and interpret the rules. This resolution was introduced in the hope of avoiding some of the controversial situations that had plagued the 1913 season. J.C. Lithgow spoke to this resolution stating that "after my experience of last winter I must point out to this meeting that the power of president should be equal to that of President Quinn of the NHA because if the Association is to be run on business principles, such decisions as given by your Committee will have to be eliminated". The NHA stipulated presidential powers as such:
The president shall preside at all meetings of the Association and discharge all duties that are imposed on him by the Constitution or by the Association. He shall interpret the playing rules during the season.
He shall have power to suspend for a definite period or to impose a fine not exceeding $100 or to inflict both such suspension and fine upon any club or player who in his opinion shall have been guilty of conduct prejudicial to the NHA or the welfare of hockey regardless on or off the playing rink.
He shall report to the Board of Directors all violations of the Constitution that may come to his knowledge, also the names of all persons fined or suspended and the amounts in such fines and terms of suspension.
J.C. Lithgow was once again elected as President and J.C. Larder of Sydney was elected Vice President. They also unanimously decided that the players from the previous season would remain the property of their respective clubs for this season based on a two year plan allowing the teams to reserve players. James Morrison was given time to present his case for Glace Bay's acceptance into the league. After a lengthy discussion about their application it was decided that the decision would be deferred to the next meeting where hopefully the missing team's representatives would be present. The final business concerned the lifting of Doc. Doherty's suspension from the previous season. Harry Scott's suspension was not mentioned as he was rumored to be signed with NHA's Toronto Ontarians.
There was fallout from this meeting on two fronts. The first was over concern about the New Glasgow management not showing up to this initial meeting. President Lithgow even went so far as to try and contact Chester Greggory on the phone but was unable to get through. This left the league executive wondering if New Glasgow was intending to enter a team in the league for the upcoming season. The second concern came from the Amherst press. According to The Amherst News they contended that the MPHA had changed the location of the meeting from Truro to Halifax and had not let the Amherst contingent know about this change. The paper accused J. C. Lithgow of purposely snubbing Amherst, stating "Amherst was handed the tarry end of the stick". In all likelihood the snubbing was the result of Amherst's aggressive attempt to pull it's local players away from some of the other MPHA teams.
Mid-November saw some rumblings in the NHA that had some possible repercussions for the MPHA. Art Ross, a star for the Montreal Wanderers was "emphatically" refusing to accept a smaller salary than he received in the past. A salary cap was being placed on both the NHA and the Pacific Coast league players that was enacted by the new hockey commission. Ross believed that if the Maritime league did not come to terms with the new commission, they could "make it disagreeable for the older organization" referring to the NHA. He went on to state that "the towns are not very large, they could all, I believe, afford to engage one expensive player. Some then could, I think, afford to pay big salaries to two men. The MPHA will then engage some of the best players in Canada. The league is flourishing and is becoming better and stronger and will if satisfactory arrangement is not reached with the NHA most assuredly engage some of the stars of the Association".