The National Hockey Association

  • Posted on: 25 December 2014
  • By: lrigby

The National Hockey Association (NHA) was born in the midst of a dispute by the owners of the Eastern Canadian Hockey Association, a professional adaptation of the Association known as the Eastern Canadian Amateur Hockey Association.  In 1908 the word amateur was removed since its teams were allowed to hire professional players.  This dispute began because Montreal Wanderer franchise owner J. P. Doran was attempting to move his team from the Montreal Arena to his own rink, the Jubilee Arena.  His rink was considerably smaller than the Montreal Arena and the other owners stood to lose money in gate receipts.  They responded by disbanding the ECHA and forming the Canadian Hockey Association (CHA) without the Wanderers Franchise.  At the same time Ambrose O’Brien of Renfrew, Ontario was trying to gain admittance into the newly formed CHA for his team the Renfrew Creamery Kings (which would later became known as the Renfrew Millionaires). The Creamery Kings were the champions of the Federal League but were turned down for a Stanley Cup Challenge by the trustees since the Federal League was not considered competitive enough to mount such a challenge. A chance meeting of Jimmy Gardner of the Montreal Wanderers and Ambrose O’Brien of the Renfrew Millionaires at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal, site of the CHA founding meeting, lead to the creation of the National Hockey Association (NHA).  Both franchises had been subsequently turned down for acceptance into the CHA.

Ambrose O’Brien, whose father was a very successful mine owner, agreed to finance four teams in the newly created league.  It was Ambrose’s desire to create a league competitive enough for his beloved Renfrew Millionaires to have a chance to challenge for the Stanley Cup.  The league began with five teams including the Cobalt Silver Kings, Haileybury Comets, Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers and the Renfrew Creamery Kings (Millionaires).  Their rival, The Canadian Hockey Association only lasted a few weeks and dissolved due to low attendance.  The Ottawa Hockey Club and the Montreal Shamrocks were immediately absorbed into the NHA and the Quebec Bulldogs joined  the following season.  The union of the CHA and the NHA left the NHA as Canada’s predominant professional hockey league.