Excitement and Sour Grapes - The 1913 Season
The City of Sydney was buzzing with anticipation of the upcoming Stanley Cup challenge match with the Quebec Bulldogs. One of the most popular and admired sites in Sydney was the photo of the Millionaires taken by a local photographer C. H. Wheeler. It sat in Kennedy's Cigar store window on Charlotte Street and according to reports it was "greatly admired by the public".
The 1913 season did not end without controversy and hard feelings. Chester Greggory of the New Glasgow Cubs was quoted as saying that the Sydney team would be kicked out of the league for the 1914 season. Both Moncton and New Glasgow disputed Sydney's championship and their right to play for the Stanley Cup claiming that both teams were more deserving than Sydney and had better head to head records. A good example of this dissatisfaction was an article in the Moncton Transcript printed after Sydney was declared the league champions.
What chance will Sydney have against Quebec for the Stanley Cup is the question asked about the city. The Victorias, the best team in the M.P.H.A. this year would have to be travelling very fast if they expected even to make a good showing against the champions. There are some good players in this league and there are some teams that are better than either of the Toronto teams and perhaps the Ottawas but they are not up to the standard of the Quebec team, and there is no getting over the fact Sydney will not have as good a chance as Moncton had last year and as the result the M.P.H.A will be held up as a laughing stock and will be termed the "bush league". That is neither here nor there, and if this journal was of the opinion that the best team had won the M.P.H.A league this year they would support the Sydney team most heartily but as the best team did not win (far be it from such), this journal will not support the Sydney team in winning and Quebec cannot have the satisfaction of saying that they beat the best team in the M.P.H.A.
The New Glasgow press also showed some sour grapes responding to a Toronto Globe report that the Millionaires "grasped the hockey championship of the Maritime provinces and proved themselves the best aggregation to play Quebec for the Stanley Cup" by stating the "New Glasgow Cubs have scored on the Millionaires. They have also won four out of five games played with them." However it was not mentioned by the New Glasgow press that the first game was an exhibition game, Sydney had played without the majority of their stars and without any significant practice time. Also the final game was a meaningless game where Sydney sat out some of it's starting players and used spares in their place.
A series of exhibition matches were purposed by The various teams from the MPHA, the first was by the Halifax Socials which was to be played in Halifax before Sydney's trip to Quebec. The management viewed this as a good warm up game. The other two challenges came from New Glasgow and Moncton. Both of these challenges came with a thousand dollar wager on the outcome, however both challenges were denied for the time being. New Glasgow had previously promised to play an exhibition game in Sydney and had not fulfilled that promise so they were put on hold until that game was played. Moncton's request was put on hold until Sydney's other commitments were met. Within days of the request, the Moncton Vics had disbanded and its players headed home for the summer making this request mute.
Several of Moncton's players including Harry Cross on a stopover in Montreal gave an interview to the press that vilified the Sydney team.
"Never, never again, " was the chorus feebly sung this morning by a quintette of scarred and battered, chopped and black-eyed young gentlemen who blew in from the east. they were with their afflictions the following: Harry Scott, black eye, missing teeth, smashed lips; Jack McGregor, black eye, broken nose, chopped shins, cuts and bruises galore; Fred Carpenter, black eye, split cheek; Fred Walker, broken nose, two black eyes, various cuts and many bruises; It was McGregor's second broken nose of the season.
The battered quartette are from Moncton N.B. on their way home to Ontario and the west after a strenuous season, which they declare will be their last in the maritime professional hockey league.
Harry Scott, being a newspaperman and the least injured of the party, acted as spokesman, and voiced the sentiment of his fellow cripples that never while Sydney and its rough house artists remained in the league would the majority of other upper Canada's players ever be tempted into journeying down to the eastern province again. The crucial game of the series was played between Sydney and Moncton at Sydney Thursday night.
"They went right out to kill us" declared Scott "Randall, who has gained a most unenviable reputation throughout the league circuit for the brutality and ferocity of his play, got after me right at the beginning. I dodged him for sixteen minutes while he chased me around the ice dodging blow after blow but finally after sixteen minutes he landed me a smash against the mouth that got me out of the game for good. All the other players on our team were battered down early in the game. We were afraid to retaliate for half of Sydney was ready to jump on the ice and wipe us up if we ever raised a hand. "
"Most of us will never go back to the maritime provinces if Sydney is allowed in the league again, apart from the fact that the hockey supporters there seem to be devoid of all idea of fair play, the jump is far too long, and has been a source of dissatisfaction to the other teams. It has been a turbulent season in the east, and marred by much rough play and many peculiar mix-ups.
The Millionaires and their fans took notice of Harry Scott's interview but did not take it seriously stating that Scott's claims were ridiculous and that he should have spent more time concentrating on hockey and less at moving his mouth.
of course it's a fairy tale Scott
of how he was chased and battered
Had both eyes colored and face badly
For Harry admits he's a newspaper
-Otto B. Kilde
On top of Harry Scott's tirade, news came from Moncton that the Victorias were refusing to part with the Crosby Cup. According to reports, the Moncton team claimed that "the bonds had run out" and that the trophy had become the ownership of the Moncton Hockey Club and could no longer be given to the league champion. This was an invalid argument since it was common practice that a trophy became the property of the winning team after three consecutive championships and the Crosby Cup was only donated the previous year. The Millionaires, however, had the Stanley Cup on their mind and the struggle to bring the Crosby Cup to Sydney could wait until the challenge in Quebec was over.