Pacific Northwest Reigns
On this day the first American team to win the Stanley Cup and the first NCAA basketball championship were won by teams from Washington and Oregon respectively.
Seattle Becomes First American Team to Win Stanley Cup
Beginning in 1915, the top teams from the National Hockey Association (the NHL’s predecessor) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (“PCHA”) played for the Stanley Cup. The series was played entirely in one location, alternating between west and east coast.
In 1916, the Portland Rosebuds became the first American team to play for the Cup, losing 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal. The next year the Seattle Metropolitans claimed the PCHA title and faced the defending champions in Seattle. The Metropolitans won the best-of-five series in four games, winning the last three contests by a combined score of 19-3 after dropping the opener.
In 1919, the Canadiens and Metropolitans met in Seattle for a rematch. With the series tied 2-2, the deciding game was cancelled hours before game time because of an influenza outbreak. Five of the Canadiens were hospitalized with high fevers, one of whom died. The Canadiens offered to forfeit the title to Seattle, but the Metropolitans refused to accept it so no winner was crowned.
The Metropolitans and the PCHA folded in 1924. It would not be until 1928 that an American NHL team would win the cup when the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Maroons. The next year, the Boston Bruins beat the Rangers in the first all-American Stanley Cup Final.
Seattle has expressed interest in an NHL expansion team, but no Seattle investor submitted a bid in the current NHL expansion round due in part of the high application fee ($10M and only $8 M is refundable) and an expansion fee of $500M (compared to $80M for the 2000 expansion).
Oregon Wins First NCAA Basketball Tournament
It was the birth of March Madness. The 1939 Oregon Ducks (29-5) were known for their fast break offense and tall front court which earned them the nickname the “Tall Firs” (although their biggest player was only 6-8). In the inaugural NCAA basketball tournament, led by Hall of Fame Coach Howard Hobsen, the Ducks cruised en route to their first and only NCAA championship.
- v. Texas (56-41)
- v. Oklahoma (55-37)
- v Ohio State (46-33)
Since winning the tournament, the Ducks have only advanced as far as the Elite 8 (1939, 1945, 1960, 2002, 2007 and 2016).
The 1939 Final Four featured Oklahoma, Villanova, Oregon and Ohio State, all but Ohio State were in the Elite 8 this year. This year, Oklahoma avenged its 1939 loss by crushing Oregon 80-68.