|Out of the Mists of the Past
|The Kenora Thistles: 1907 Stanley Cup Champions
While playing for Winnipeg, Hall participated in his first Stanley Cup challenge series, a best-of-three affair against the powerhouse Ottawa Silver Seven squad. Winnipeg was crushed in the first game-- 9-1, yet picked up the pieces in the second game and ended up winning the New Year's Day contest 6-2. The third, and decisive game was a defensive struggle, with Ottawa doing just enough scoring to help goalie Bouse Hutton blank the Rowers 2-0. The Silver Seven went home triumphant, but with respect for Hall and his rugged style of play, even though there were whispers that Joe had been paid to play in what was supposed to be an amateur event.
In November of 1905 Hall did get paid, joining Jack Gibson's Portage Lake Professionals of the International Pro Hockey League (I.P.H.L.), where he scored 33 goals in only 20 games and was named as a first team all-star. He also led the league in penalty minutes, amassing the incredible total of 98 and earning the ominous moniker, "Bad Joe". Portage Lake issued a challenge to the Silver Seven for the Stanley Cup, but the request was denied by the trustees because the Lakers were openly pro. Hall was disappointed, and, probably figuring he could still be paid (under the table) while at the same time being able to compete for the famed Lord Stanley, he moved back into the world of "amateur" hockey by joining and playing the last quarter of the 1906 season with the E.C.A.H.A. Quebec Bulldogs.
Hall returned to his hometown of Brandon for the start of the 1906-07 season. In January 1907, both Hall, and twenty-one year-old teammate Art Ross, were borrowed from league rival Brandon and added to the roster of the Stanley Cup contender Kenora Thistles. Before a two-game Cup challenge versus the Montreal Wanderers in January, the Thistles shuffled their roster. Matt Brown and Theo "Tuff" Bellefeuille, the two mainstays for the Thistles on defense, were replaced by Ross and Si Griffis. Tom Hooper moved up to assume Griffis' vacated spot at rover, while the potent front line of Billy McGimsie, Tommy Phillips, and Roxy Beaudro, which had combined for 48 goals in only 8 games the previous season, stayed intact. Joe Hall became the odd-man out, and sat on the sidelines along with Tommy Phillips' 19 year-old brother Russell as a spare. Still, it was probably quite apparent to the Wanderers that if they happened to injure one of Kenora's starting seven with a questionable tactic, they would have to answer to "Bad Joe" in relief. The Thistles took care of business without Hall touching the ice, beating the Wanderers 4-2 and 8-6 to capture the honored trophy
Hall returned to Brandon to finish out the season and ended up scoring 14 goals in 9 games overall. He also played in two playoff games, scoring five goals. Due to a series of violent outbursts that season, Hall was expelled from the Manitoba Hockey League for his rough play. Hall, by no means the only tough customer in organized hockey, did most of his rough stuff out in the open, as opposed to other players who took cheap shots while the referees weren't looking. This led to him being watched with a hawk's eye by the referees every time he took the ice. With this largely mistaken, yet unalterable reputation for goonery, Joe decided to head east.
Joe Hall found a new home in January of 1908, playing right wing for the undermanned Montreal AAA club. Joe scored 5 goals in four games, and even played a game with ex-Kenora teammate Tom Hooper before packing up the following month and moving over to the crosstown rival Montreal Shamrocks, where he paired on defense with future hall-of-famer Didier "Cannonball" Pitre, scoring 4 goals in four games.
In December of the following season Joe went back west, signing a temporary contract with the Edmonton Pros of the Alberta Professional Hockey League (A.P.H.L.). Joe played in one game before being released. That same year, the Pros, who basically were a team built around professional "ringers", employed the services of former Kenora teammate Tommy Phillips.
After his one game stint in Edmonton, Joe jumped back east and joined his third Montreal team in less than a year-- the Wanderers.
Hall returned east and rejoined the Montreal Shamrocks for the 1909-10 season, scoring seven goals in his first game. A short while later, however, the Shamrocks withdrew from the floundering Canadian Hockey Association and began playing out of the newly formed (and openly professional) National Hockey Association (N.H.A.). Hall went on to score ten goals in eight games. In the latter part of the season, however, Hall's famous temper got the best of him. Joe punched referee Rod Kennedy after an unpleasant altercation with the Renfrew Millionaires' Frank Patrick. Hall was suspended and fined, ousted from Monteal, and subsequently joined the Quebec Bulldogs for the upcoming season.
As a Bulldog, Hall would eventually hit Stanley Cup paydirt, but his first season with the team proved to be a one of frustration. Joe was held scoreless in all ten games he played, and the Bulldogs finished last in the N.H.A. with a 4-12 record. Hall's unexpected scoring outage was due partially to the fact that Hall had permanently switched to play the point position of defense, recently vacated by the best-named player of his generation, one Rockett Power, who jumped ship to play for the surprisingly competitive Montreal Canadiens.
The following season would be a complete turnaround for both Hall and the Bulldogs. With Goldie Prodgers moving to play point, Hall moved to cover point and rediscovered his scoring touch, posting fifteen goals in 18 games. Led by a fabulous front line of "Phantom" Joe Malone, Eddie Oatman, and Jack McDonald, and backstopped by goalie Paddy Moran, the Bulldogs finished first in the N.H.A. by one half game and took stewardship of the Stanley Cup from a shocked Ottawa Senators club.
The Bulldogs defended their newly won piece of hardware in a March, 1912 challenge series versus the Moncton Victorias, who were champions of the Interprovincial Professional Hockey League (I.P.H.L.). The games weren't even close-- 9-3, and 8-0-- both Bulldog victories. Joe could finally say he "earned" his first Stanley Cup.
The following season saw the Bulldogs again dominate. Joe moved back to point to make room for his new defensive
Hall and the Bulldogs won the league title with a 16-4 record, and went on to defend the Stanley Cup against the Sydney Millionaires, a spunky squad from Nova Scotia playing out of the Maritime Professional Hockey League (M.P.H.L.). The results of a two game series were predictably one-sided-- 14-3 and 6-2 in favor of the Bulldogs.
For the next three seasons, Hall and Mummery continued to be the most feared defensive pairing in the league, although as Bulldogs they never again won the Stanley Cup, losing the chalice to the Toronto Blueshirts the following season. Hall continued his steady scoring, putting home 13 goals in 19 games in 1913-14. His offensive proficiency would decline over the course of the next several years-- a modest ten goals total in his final three seasons in a Quebec uniform.
In November of 1917 the N.H.A. ceased operations and the National Hockey League made its debut, and Joe and the Bulldogs were all set to transfer over to the new league. Unfortunately, Hall's Bulldogs soon realized that due to the depletion of resources caused by World War One, it couldn't keep up operations and asked for a one year leave of absence from the league. A dispersal draft was held on the 26th to reassign the Quebec roster, and Joe was claimed by the Montreal Canadiens. Joe played 21 games with the Habs that year, registering eight goals and seven assists. In keeping with his infamous reputation, on January 28, 1918, Hall engaged in a stick swinging incident with Alf Skinner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both players were charged by the Toronto police with disorderly conduct and subsequently released with suspended sentences. Though Montreal finished tied for first, they lost the right to play for the Stanley Cup by succumbing to the Toronto Arenas in a two game, total goals series. Hall, an grizzled hockey warrior at 35, decided to play one more season.
The following season saw the Canadiens jump out of the gate. Led by the powerful offensive talents of Newsy LaLonde, the team clinched the first-half championship. The seond half of the season would not be as successful, although new arrival Odie Cleghorn would go on a scoring tear that would see him eventually beat out LaLonde for the league scoring title. Hall led in a statistic too-- penalty minutes, racking up a career high 136. Fiesty as ever, Hall savored one last chance to capture Lord Stanley's chalice. In a best-of-seven playoff against league rival Ottawa, the Canadiens chased the Senators in just five games and started a long journey west to play the P.C.H.L.'s Seattle Metropolitans for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup.
The series proved to be everything hockeyists had hoped for, brilliant scoring and strong defense. Joe Hall was in an especially surly mood, making full use of his complement of defensive tactics. By the fifth game, the tension was at a fever pitch, with a 100 minute scoreless overtime being witnessed just a few nights prior, and whispers amongst many that the series was the finest organized hockey had ever seen. Some of the players complained they didn't feel well, but chalked it up to the marathon extra period of game four. Joe Hall was particularly infirm and, though he started game five, he eventually had to leave the ice and retire to the bench. The other Montreal players trooped it out and won the game. The next day Joe was admitted to a local Seattle hospital with a 105 degree fever. Team manager George Kennedy and five other players were confined to bed and by April Fool's Day the series, which was tied at two games and a tie apiece, was officially postponed. The Spanish Influenza was on the rampage in Canada, and several of the Canadiens were the unfortunate recipients of its horrendous effects. Hall, tough as nails, as well as his manager and teammates, gutted it out over the next four days but, unlike them, he fell further into fever and delirium.
Joe Hall died in the hospital on April 5, 1919 at the age of 36. The Stanley Cup finals, which had been postponed, was never completed. Perhaps it was his reputation as a tough guy that kept Hall from being one of the first handful of members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He would have to wait sixteen years before he was finally, belatedly inducted in 1961.
TEAM PHOTOS FEATURING JOE HALL:
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