1914 Season Saved
Meanwhile, in Halifax, the hockey community began to scramble, hoping to save professional hockey for the upcoming season. Rumors were circulating that new leagues would be formed. One such rumor included the New Glasgow, Sydney and Glace Bay franchises starting a league, another left New Glasgow out of the mix and included the two Halifax teams. The Halifax Arena Company went so far as to verbally rent out Friday nights to the Dalhousie Skating Club. Friday night was a traditional hockey night for the Halifax teams. Many believed that this move was to put pressure on the hockey team's management. J.C. Larder, Sydney's manager, spent the next day in Halifax talking with various groups in hopes of bringing a solution to the impasse. Larder even went as far as using his own money to book the Halifax Arena for the Halifax Teams. He then began looking for new management for the Crescents and the Socials.
On December 8th, J.C. Larder arrived home triumphantly from his meetings in Halifax. Larder was able to meet with prominent businessmen in Halifax and secure funding for the two Halifax teams. He was also able to secure a deal with the Halifax Arena Company that would pay the two Halifax teams sixty percent of the gate revenues and pay the New Glasgow team the hundred dollars that they demanded to stay in the league. As soon as the league crisis was resolved, the Millionaires management went right back to securing players for the upcoming season.
Because of the turmoil in the MPHA, the NHA on December 9th, announced that the hockey agreement between the two leagues that was previously set to expire in January was now cancelled. This was a significant problem for both leagues since the management of the New Glasgow team had contacted the Ottawa Senator's management and cancelled the deal for Allan Wilson and Mike Murphy. Harvey Richardson was also reported to be signed by the Quebec Bulldogs but had a previous contract with the Millionaires. President Quinn of the NHA contacted the MPHA management and gave the league until the following Saturday to get on solid grounds and accept the Hockey Commission agreement or their players were to be declared free agents.
The next meeting of the MPHA executive, which took place on December 13th, successfully declared the beginning of the 1914 hockey season. The first game would take place in New Glasgow with the Cubs facing the Millionaires. One major surprise at the meeting was the resignation of J. C. Lithgow as league president. The resignation was received by the league but they did not appoint a replacement at that meeting. A few days before his resignation, Lithgow, in a letter to the Maritime press shared his opinions about Maritime professional hockey, stating that professional hockey is too expensive for the maritime provinces and it is in the best interest to align with the NHA, believing that it "will be much better for the whole of Canada to work under one hockey agreement similar to the baseball leagues in the United States." The MPHA executive also received an amended agreement from the NHA that stated the following:
- All players to be considered the property of the club with which they played last season. Irrespective of any former contract or reserve lists
- The National Hockey Association to have the privilege of purchasing three players from three MPHA clubs, one per club, alternating each season at a maximum sum of $200 per player.
- Each MPHA club shall have the right to reserve three players, these three to be exempt from purchase.
- The National Hockey Association to name the players whom they wish to purchase on or before April 15th of each year
- Any player refusing to go west when purchased shall be suspended by the NHA and not allowed to play until his release is secured from the National Hockey Association.
- Any player suspended by either leagues until the original suspension is lifted.
- The NHA shall not be allowed to purchase a player from one club in the MPHA and transfer said player to any other club in the MPHA without the consent of the club from whom the player was originally purchased.
- Clubs in both leagues to have rights to interchange or purchase players from one another at a price agreed to between purchasing and selling club but no player purchased after the 15th of February can be used by the purchasing club that season. The length of the agreement to be two years from date.
- The carrying out of this agreement or any portion thereof shall be left in the hands of both presidents, whose decisions shall be binding on their respective leagues; and should they fail to agree a third party who shall be called arbitrator, shall be agreed upon by them whose ruling shall be final and binding on both leagues.
The MPHA executive agreed to all but one of the nine points. The exception was point number two which set the price of purchasing players at two hundred dollars. They wanted equal footing with the NHA/PCHA deal that set the cost of purchasing players at five hundred dollars. However, the MPHA did have their back against the wall since some of the NHA teams had signed contracts with MPHA players after it looked like the MPHA was dead in the water. These NHA teams did not want to give up the rights to these players so the MPHA needed support from President Quinn. To get President Quinn's support, they would need to have a signed deal with that league. The MPHA left the negotiating to Social's team manager Gordon Isnor who had already been involved in previous dealings with the NHA executive. Within days Isnor was able to conclude a satisfactory deal which would see the MPHA teams get two hundred and fifty dollars per player when purchased by NHA franchises.
The Sydney executive quickly suspended Harvey Richardson and sent word to President Quinn and the Quebec Bulldogs that according to the agreement, Richardson was property of the Millionaires and must then be suspended by the Bulldogs and be required to head to Sydney for the upcoming season. Some of the MPHA players such as Doc Doherty and Harry Cross voluntarily gave up their contracts with NHA teams and headed back to the Maritimes to play with their respective MPHA clubs. Harvey Richardson had been practicing with the Bulldogs and the Quebec executive had no intention of letting him go without a fight. President Quinn of the NHA was forced to officially suspend Richardson and order the Quebec club to send him back to Sydney. Ignoring the President's suspension, the Bulldogs elected to play Richardson in their first game against the Montreal Canadiens . According to the Quebec press "Richardson played rover for the first two periods and during a part of the last period relived Jack Marks on the wing. As he is young, he gives promise to become a very valuable man on the champions line-up as soon as he gets sufficient experience in the NHA." The Sydney team was forced to begin the season without Richardson in the line-up.