Monday, April 1, 2013
April 1, 1919: The Spanish Flu Causes the Stanley Cup Finals to be Cancelled
The 1919 series was set to be a best of 5. It was an odd setup with the teams alternating between the PCHA rules and the NHL rules throughout the series. Seattle dominated under the PCHA rules which were set to be used in games one, three, and five. In the first game the Mets beat the Canadiens 7-0. When it shifted back the NHL rules the Candiens were able to even things up with a 4-2 victory. With the rules shifting back to Seattle's advantage they put up another lopsided victory in game 3. In game 4 the teams skated to a 0-0 tie which led the Canadiens to lobby for game 5 to be played under the NHL guidelines. Seattle protested a bit but it was decided they would play under the NHL rules and that any future playoff game would be played until someone scored. Game 5 was the hardest fought battle of the series as Montreal found themselves down 3-0 before storming back and sending it to overtime. Nearly 16 minutes into the extra frame Jack McDonald scored the game winner for the Canadiens and the deciding game was set to take place in Seattle before the flu hit the Canadiens squad like a freight train.
The Spanish flu killed anywhere from 50 to 100 million people worldwide. It began in January of 1918 and lasted nearly three years, affecting over 500 million worldwide. The worldwide impact really makes what happened with the Stanley Cup a secondary story in a lot of ways. A worldwide flu pandemic is a scary thing to think about and when it comes to the forces of nature no one is immune, not an athlete or even a king. People could only speculate on where the flu originated, when the King of Spain nearly died from being stricken with the deadly strain it led to the nickname Spanish Flu.