Joe Hall and the flu of 1919

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by kytem2, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. kytem2 Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2003
    Messages:
    4,951
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    0
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Occupation:
    Rocker
    Location:
    Ottawa
    Home Page:
    http://blogs.seattletimes.com/take2...s-killed-joe-hall-and-changed-hockey-forever/

    I just read this today...it is an article from almost 1 year ago, but possibly timely given the NHL's mumps "outbreak".

    Great article << exerpt>>:

    Hockey Hall of Famer “Bad†Joe Hall died in Seattle during the Stanley Cup finals of 1919. But it wasn’t just the Spanish flu that killed him.
    Another culprit was the forward pass, a new tactic that was born 100 years ago.
     
  2. tarheelhockey Highest Boss

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Messages:
    64,274
    Likes Received:
    55,353
    Trophy Points:
    225
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Location:
    The Triangle
    Interesting find, but that thesis seems a tad sensational.
     
  3. senior edler mystique

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    9,161
    Likes Received:
    3,209
    Trophy Points:
    156
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Another one who died from the flu was the owner of the Canadiens at the time, sports promoter George Kennedy. He didn't appear on the ice so I don't think the forward pass affected him.

    It's also theorized, I think I've read somewhere, that it weakened the health of Metropolitan coach Pete Muldoon who died of a heart attack relatively young in 1929.
     
  4. tarheelhockey Highest Boss

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Messages:
    64,274
    Likes Received:
    55,353
    Trophy Points:
    225
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Location:
    The Triangle
    Well, this is interesting... stumbled across this blurb in the February 21, 1919 Toronto World.

    [​IMG]

    Lester Patrick had proposed that the "World Series" (Stanley Cup Finals) be shortened to only 3 games. Of all people who could have ironically opposed that plan, the most vocal was George Kennedy himself.

    The 1919 flu bug was a particularly brutal mutation of H1N1 that typically killed within days or even hours after symptoms appeared (it was originally called the 'three day flu'). Adding another day or two to account for the time between infection and the onset of symptoms, it would be generous to say that typical victims might have contracted the virus a week before their deaths.

    Joe Hall died on Saturday, April 5th. A week before that was Saturday, March 29th. That was the day before the fifth and final game of the series. Had the series stopped after the third game, the Canadiens would likely have boarded a train back to Montreal on March 25th. It isn't impossible, but it's highly improbable that Hall and the others had contracted the virus by March 25th.

    So it follows, with a high degree of confidence, that the decision not to shorten the series to 3 games was a direct cause of the deaths of both Joe Hall and George Kennedy.
     
  5. Hawksfan2828 Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Messages:
    13,437
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    86
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Location:
    Libertyville, IL
    Interesting snip... You also have to understand that it probably took several days of travel just to play the game.

    Considering how much players make today it's almost inconceivable that gate revenue was the main issue when it came to a championship game....

    Interesting that the snip mentions players pay, I suppose that would be a taboo subject at that time.
     
  6. tarheelhockey Highest Boss

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Messages:
    64,274
    Likes Received:
    55,353
    Trophy Points:
    225
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Location:
    The Triangle
    Players pay was actually a pretty open subject at that time, which allows a remarkable amount of precision in calculating team budgets considering we're relying on 100-year-old newspapers as the source. This snippet is from the Saskatoon Phoenix, March 7th:

    [​IMG]

    There were 10 players on the Habs, so the math says the players' piece of the pie was $7500-$8000 for that 1919 final series, with the $500 difference going toward the winner. In the earlier article, Kennedy claimed $4000 of overhead costs so it's probably safe to say he was planning to split the proceeds of the series roughly 50/50 between himself and the players, for a $3500-$4000 profit depending on the game result. All told, each team likely collected something like $15,000 of revenue with a $1,000 purse in the balance for the series winner. At least, that was the plan...

    I guess they canceled the soldiers' benefit tour.
     
  7. Sens Rule Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    21,251
    Likes Received:
    46
    Trophy Points:
    116
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Or they take a different train back and several players die of the flu. It infected around a quarter of the population... And killed 3-5% of the world population. It isn't like Mumps spreading around a handful of NHLers now. The flu was everywhere. All over the world. In Seattle and Montreal and everywhere in between. So saying a shortened series would mean Hall would be alive as a direct cause is kind of pointless. If Hall's immune system fell victim to the virus he caught in Seattle could easily have caught it anywhere. Or it could have been a different or more players.
     
  8. tarheelhockey Highest Boss

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Messages:
    64,274
    Likes Received:
    55,353
    Trophy Points:
    225
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Location:
    The Triangle
    Dying from the virus wouldn't have been especially likely at any time or place, since "only" about 1% of Hall's demographic (age, gender, location) died from the flu. The 3-5% figure includes total apocalyptic devastation in Asia and the subcontinent, which was not the case in Canada or the northwestern U.S.

    But more importantly, the worst of the pandemic occurred just before hockey season, in October and November. Around that time there were questions as to whether the season would be staged at all, let alone the championship, because public gatherings were being shut down. The reason the season happened at all was due to an easing of the spread by late December, and by March it had subsided to relatively-not-terrifying levels. I was able to find actual numbers for Seattle during this period:

    [​IMG]

    Out of some 300,000 people in the city at the time, only 50 came down with fatal cases of the virus... and one of them was Bad Joe Hall. He beat some pretty long odds to die that way.

    And while George Kennedy certainly can't be considered responsible for that, it's kind of ironic that he actually argued against being anywhere other than the wrong place at the wrong time.
     
    Darth Bangkok likes this.
  9. Hawksfan2828 Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Messages:
    13,437
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    86
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Location:
    Libertyville, IL
    That's a pretty interesting article... I enjoy reading old sports articles and few of the major 4 ever discuss salary..
     
  10. tarheelhockey Highest Boss

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Messages:
    64,274
    Likes Received:
    55,353
    Trophy Points:
    225
    SB Cash:
    $ 100,000
    Location:
    The Triangle
    Just found a mention of the timetable -- the Habs left Montreal's Windsor Station (which is now directly adjacent to the Bell Centre) on the night of March 10th. They were due to play an exhibition in Regina on the 13th and then in Calgary on the 14th, and then arrive in Vancouver on the 16th to await the result of the Vancouver/Seattle series that determined their next opponent. So that's a solid 6 days of travel to get to Vancouver, including the time it took to stop and play two exhibitions. Then a couple more days before the series began on the 9th.

    It's funny, the ideal of amateurism was still very much alive but there was also clearly an appetite for details about how much the pros were being paid. And at that specific point in history, there was a HUGE amount of drama over gambling and game-fixing in sports generally. The Canadiens were called out by the Toronto media that season for throwing games, and baseball managers talked openly about trying to eradicate gambling among players. Of course, we know what happened that summer with the World Series. So you had the amateur ideal living side-by-side with a very cynical outlook on what these guys were getting paid outside of their workaday lives.
     

Share This Page

Presented in Association with the Society for International Hockey Research
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice
monitoring_string = "358c248ada348a047a4b9bb27a146148"