The Unfinished Stanley Cup Series
April 1, 1919.
The Stanley Cup series in Seattle, Washington between NHL champion Montreal Canadiens and Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) champion Seattle Metropolitans stands at 2-2-1.*
Game Six is five hours away and the Canadiens are in serious trouble. Players Joe Hall, Newsy Lalonde, Louis Berlinquette, Billy Couture, Jack McDonald and owner George Kennedy are all struck with dreaded Spanish Influenza symptoms. They are admitted immediately to a local Seattle hospital; all are reported to have fevers ranging between 101-105ºF.
In an attempt to continue the series, Kennedy asks permission to use players from the PCHA Victoria Aristocrats, but PCHA league president Frank Patrick denies the request. With no other choice and little time remaining, Game Six is cancelled. Kennedy cedes the series, and the Cup, to Seattle.
Metropolitans manager/coach Pete Muldoon refuses to accept. In his mind, catastrophic illness forced the series to a halt and was not any fault of the Canadiens. Therefore, it would be unsportsmanlike to him to accept a victory under these circumstances.
On April 5, 1919 “Bad” Joe Hall dies of flu-related pneumonia. Despite the nickname “Bad,” Hall was “one of the jolliest, best-hearted, most popular men who ever played,” according to Frank Patrick.
Lalonde, Berlinquette, Couture and McDonald all make a full recovery. Kennedy's condition, on the other hand, declines so much his wife rushes from Montreal to his bedside. He never fully recovers and despite the care of excellent Canadian and American doctors, dies two years later at age 39.
After the Cup is redesigned in 1948, the space for the 1919 champion simply reads:
Series Not Completed
Until 2005**, this was the only time in which a Stanley Cup champion was left undecided. In 2005 it was for contract/money disputes. In 1919, it was left undecided for all the right reasons.