Welcome to the "Let's Go Pirates!" - Pittsburgh Pirates (NHL) Page!
- The Pittsburgh Pirates' history dates back to the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets of the US Amateur Hockey Association [Note: The USAHA was founded in 1920 but disbanded at the end of the 1925-26 season]. The Yellow Jackets won the USAHA's championship in 1924 and 1925 under Dick Carroll, who had coached the Toronto Arenas to the Stanley Cup in 1918.
- The Yellow Jackets' owner was former referee Roy Schooley. When Schooley encountered financial problems, his team was purchased by attorney James F. Callahan and renamed the Pirates, stealing the name from the baseball club.
- The Pirates were granted a franchise by the National Hockey League on November 7, 1925 and became the NHL's third US-based team. (The Boston Bruins began play in the 1924-25 season and the New York Americans, like the Pirates, started in the 1925-26 season.)
- Henry Townsend, a Pittsburgh politician and president of the Duquesne Gardens Co., organized the team, which featured 10 former Yellow Jackets, including goalie Roy Worters, Lionel Conacher, who would be named Canadian male athlete of the half century, and forward Hib Milks, who would be the Pirates' leading scorer in each of their first four seasons.
- The Pirates played their home games at the Duquesne Gardens which was located at 110 N. Craig Street near Fifth Avenue in Oakland. Duquesne Gardens was built in the late 1800's as a trolley barn and held about 5,000 spectators. The Gardens was one of the first arenas to have artificial ice-making.
- Odie Cleghorne, the Pirates' coach (and occasional player) for the first four seasons, was the first NHL coach to change his players on the fly.
- Cleghorne was also the first NHL coach to use three set forward lines. (At the time, most teams simply played their best players for as long as possible.)
- Pittsburgh signed defenseman Lionel Conacher to a three-year deal at a record $7,500 a year.
- The Pirates won their first game, on Nov. 26, 1925, defeating the Boston Bruins, 2-1, on the road.
- Two nights later, they shut out the Canadiens at Mount Royal Arena in Montreal, 1-0, in what would be legendary goaltender George Vezina's last game. Vezina started the game with severe chest pains, left the game during the first intermission with a high fever, and died four months later from tuberculosis.
- On December 26, 1926 the Pirates and New York Americans set an NHL record (which still stands today!) by combining for 141 shots. The Americans won the game 3-1 as New York had 73 shots and Pittsburgh had 68. Roy Worters made 70 saves for the Pirates and Jake Forbes made 67 saves for NY.
- The Pirates lost in the first round, the quarterfinals, of both the 1926 and 1928 playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
- After the 1928 season, financial problems forced the sale of the team to an ownership group which included Benny Leonard, a fight promoter and ex-lightweight boxing champion who compiled an 85-5-1 professional boxing record.
- Pittsburgh’s steel industry had been hit hard by the stock market crash in 1929 resulting in a decrease in attendance which forced the Pirates to sell their star players.
- By the end of the 1929 season, the owners were $400,000 in debt. The franchise was transferred to Philadelphia at the request of Callahan with the intent of returning it to Pittsburgh when a new building was constructed.
- The Pittsburgh franchise transferred to Philadelphia for the 1930-31 season and operated as the Philadelphia Quakers.
- The Pittsburgh-Philadelphia franchise suspended operations for the 1931-32 season and were given permission to suspend operations at each of the next five preseason NHL governors meetings.
- When the new arena failed to materialize in Pittsburgh, the franchise was formally cancelled on May 7, 1936.
- The Pirates had 4 future Hockey Hall of Famers play for them in their short 5 year existence. The players were Lionel Conacher, Frank Frederickson, Mickey MacKay, and Roy Worters.
- Also check out this excellent article entitled Pittsburgh’s First NHL Team: The Pirates sent to me by its author, Greg Enright.
If you have any other information about the Pittsburgh Pirates (old newsclippings, photos, etc.), please contact RJ Ackerman at http://letsgopens.com/contact.php. Thanks!
Also please check out my "Let's Go Pens!" - Pittsburgh Penguins Page.
Page created: 4/1/99
Last update: 3/4/03 11:27am