The big story of the 1935 offseason was the move by Toronto Dukes coach Jack Barrell to the Detroit Olympians. Barrell's Dukes had won two straight Challenge Cups. But his relationship with Toronto General Manager Charles Tattler was a contentious one and the lure of working with his close friend John Connolly Jr, who moved the Quebec Champlains to Detroit that same summer, made the move seem almost predestined. Tattler took the reins as coach, promising there would be no drop-off in the quality of play in Toronto (he was wrong, at least in the short-term) and predicted failure for the Olympians (admittedly, Barrell went from the penthouse to the basement with this move and improving the Detroit club was to be a monumental task).

The Montreal Nationals, watching the drama unfold in Toronto, were likely licking their chops. After being defeated in both the regular season and more importantly, in the Challenge Cup Finals, the Nationals had already had more than enough of the Toronto Dukes. In 1935-36, they vowed that they would be the ones to set the pace in the Canadian Division - and they went out and did it. Of course it helped that the Ottawa Athletics went belly-up: the NAHC held a dispersal draft for the Athletics' players and the Nationals ended up benefiting indirectly. A solid youngster by the name of Larry Dees went from Ottawa to Boston. The Bees, recognizing the young center's obvious talents, traded (for financial reasons, of course) center Ralph Speyer to the Nationals. Speyer immediately clicked with linemates Roger McIlwaine and Hank Lawrence and the trio formed one of the league's best lines. Speyer (23g, 21a), McIlwaine (16g, 26a) and Lawrence (18g, 20a) all placed among the league leaders in scoring and were collectively dubbed the "Pride of the Nationals" which was quickly shortened by the media to the "Pride Line."

With the Pride Line leading the way, the Nationals rolled to a 38-15-2 record good for 78 points, topping their rivals from Toronto by 28 points and also topping the Dukes' phenomenal 1933-34 mark of 35 wins and 77 points. Tattler was a more authoritarian coach than Jack Barrell had been and his players chafed at the change in tone. The Dukes went 22-22-6, still good for second place, but barely edged the Detroit Olympians' 48 points as Barrell deftly handled a squad that was, to put it kindly, under-manned. The Valiants' still struggling financially, were sold and fell to a new low, posting a league-worst 11-31-6 mark. 

In the American Division, the Boston Bees, helped by their aforementioned young center, were the surprise winners of the division with a 29-20-3 mark good for 61 points and a four-point edge on the Shamrocks (26-25-5). The Packers were third (23-28-2, 48 pts) while the Eagles, struggling financially in much the same way as the Valiants, tumbled into the basement with a 17-28-3 season.

The playoffs were not to be without controversy - and this controversy would see a change in the playoff format the following year. The controversy occurred in the very first round. As usual the second place squads squared off with each other and the third-place clubs did the same in a two-game, total-goals format. The Packers and Olympians split their two games, but the Packers earned the win by a five goals to four margin. The other series was a split as well, but both the Dukes and Shamrocks tallied three goals. The NAHC rules stipulated that in this event the winner would be based on regular season. As the Shamrocks' 57 points were more than the Dukes' 50 points, the New York club was advanced. Naturally the Toronto Dukes, the newspapers in Toronto and the fans of the club all cried foul, to no avail. At least not until the offseason when new rules were put in place.

The second-round saw the Shamrocks down the Packers two games to one to advance to the Challenge Cup Final while the Dukes and their supporters steamed. The first-place tilt between the Nationals and the Bees went pretty much according to script with the powerhouse Montreal club dispatching the Bostonians three games to one.

The Challenge Cup Final put Dukes' backers in an awkward position. Their hated rivals from Montreal were facing the team they felt had been unfairly advanced at their expense. Their rooting interests mattered little and it's unknown how they felt about them anyway: the Nationals capped their tremendous season with a sweep to claim the Cup.


North American Hockey Confederation Standings 1933-34

American Division GP W L T PTS GF GA   Canadian Division GP W L T PTS GF GA
Boston Bees 48 29 20 3 61 113 89   Montreal Nationals 48 38 15 2 78 138 105
New York Shamrocks 48 26 25 5 57 99 103   Toronto Dukes 48 22 22 6 50 116 112
Chicago Packers 48 23 28 2 48 115 114   Detroit Olympians 48 21 23 6 48 91 93
New York Eagles 48 17 23 8 42 92 103   Montreal Valiants 48 11 31 6 28 67 112


Packers v Olympians Packers win 1-1-0, 5 goals to 4
Shamrocks v Dukes Shamrocks advanced on pts, 1-1-0, 3 goals apiece
Nationals v Bees Nationals win three games to one
Shamrocks v Packers Shamrocks win two games to one
Challenge Cup Finals
Nationals v Shamrocks  Nationals win three games to none 



Player Goals   Player Assists   Player Points  
Ralph Speyer, NAT 23   Dick Elwin, CHI 31   Ivan Popoff, CHI 49  
Ivan Popoff, CHI 21   Ivan Popoff, CHI 28   Dick Elwin, CHI 47  
Leonard Kosir, CHI 20   Roger McIlwaine, NAT 26   Ralph Speyer, NAT 44  
Leo Morey, TOR 20   Leonard Kosir, CHI 23   Leonard Kosir, CHI 43  
Dave Thomas, TOR 20   Johnny Arthur, DET 23   Roger McIlwaine, NAT 42  
Dan Blanton, BOS  18   Dan Blanton, BOS 22   Dan Blanton, BOS 40  
Hank Lawrence, NAT  18   Sam Koger, DET 22   Sam Koger, DET 38  
Harry Edgerton, NAT  18   Ralph Speyer, NAT  21   Hank Lawrence, NAT 38  
Hal Granquist, NYE  18   Four players tied 20   Hans Immelman, CHI 36  
Three Players Tied 17         Four Players Tied 34  



Player GP W L T ShO GAA
Tommy Kearns, BOS 48  29 20 3 14 1.86
John Murphy, DET 48 21 23 6 6 1.90
Newt McCotter, NAT 48 38 15 2 10 2.17
George Dinsmore, NYE 47 16 23 8 6 2.13
Cal Henery, NYS 32 18 21 4 7 2.21



McDaniels Trophy - Ivan Popoff, CHI

Yeadon Trophy - Dick Elwin, CHI

Juneau Trophy - Tommy Kearns, BOS