Montreal Wanderers Entered The NHL in 1917 Along With the Montreal Canadiens

Published on October 29th, 2023 4:22 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The Forgotten Franchise - Montreal Wanderers ice hockey team. Did you know that Montreal once had TWO NHL teams?

That's right. In 1917 - the NHL's inaugural season - Montreal laid claim to two NHL clubs - the Canadiens and the Wanderers.

The Canadiens would go on to become of the NHL's top franchises, while the Wanderers would last less than a year.

What happened?


Prior to joining the NHL in 1917, the Montreal Wanderers were one of the most successful hockey clubs in the world.

In fact, the team won four Stanley Cups before folding in 1918.

The Wanderers would play in the National Hockey Association prior to joining the NHL. In 1917, the NHA was reorganized, and the NHL was born.

In the last years of the NHA, the formerly strong Wanderers team struggled immensely, winning just a handful of games over a couple of seasons.


The Wanderers entered the NHL a shadow of their former selves.

One of their best players, defenseman Sprague Cleghorn, was forced to miss the entire 1917-18 season due to a broken ankle.

Odie Cleghorn, another of the Wanderers' top players, would also skip the 1917-18 regular season.


After winning one of their first four games in the inaugural season of the NHL, disaster struck for the Wanderers - their arena, the Montreal Arena, burnt to the ground.

At the time, the team was desperate for players, appealing to the rest of the league for help.

After the fire, attracting new talent to a team without an arena proved impossible, and the team didn't have enough talent to play.

This resulted in the Wanderers defaulting on their next two games, and they would eventually fold.


There wasn't much of an appetite to attempt to save the Wanderers in Montreal for a number of reasons, including:

1) The league was brand new and didn't have the financial resources to back a failing team

2) Montreal already had a hockey team

The Wanderers have been relegated to the "NHL trivia" bin, while the Canadiens ended up becoming one of the most prestigious franchises in the NHL.

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