Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey


392 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55002-413-2
DDC 796.962'06'071





Reviewed by Bob Forsey

Bob Forsey is the education officer at the Newfoundland Museum in St.


The thesis of this well-researched and meticulously documented book is
that “deceptions and doublecross” played a major role in
establishing the National Hockey League as the world’s best. The
authors portray Frank Calder, the NHL’s first president, as the
mastermind of the league’s rise to prominence, but claim that his
methods were corrupt.

In 1910, six clubs competed in the National Hockey Association (NHA).
By 1917, Calder and four owners conspired to oust the Quebec Bulldogs
and the Toronto Blueshirts, and went on to form the National Hockey
League with the remaining teams (Montreal Wanderers and Canadiens,
Toronto Arenas and Ottawa Senators). Calder’s methods were devious. He
got rid of Eddie Livingstone’s Blueshirts by arranging for the other
owners to resign from the NHA, leaving the Blueshirts in a defunct

In the 1920s and 1930s, Calder expanded to the eastern United States by
adding the Boston Bruins (1924), the Chicago Blackhawks (1926), the New
York Americans (1925), and the Detroit Red Wings (1932). Another of his
schemes put Livingstone and his American Hockey League Chicago Cardinals
out of business in 1926.

Hamilton had an NHL team from 1919 to 1924, and finished first in 1924,
with a bye in the first round of the playoffs. But the Tigers refused to
play the extra playoff games without pay, so Calder suspended the team
and fined each of the players $200 for an “illegal strike.” This
ended NHL hockey in Hamilton.

When Calder died in 1942, he was praised by owners and media friends
for his work in building the NHL. Livingstone died, ignored and
forgotten, in 1945. In redressing both injustices, Holzman and Nieforth
build a solid and interesting case.


Holzman, Morey, and Joseph Nieforth., “Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,