Joseph Cattarinich - Les Canadiens / Le Club de Hockey Le Canadien / Montreal Canadiens.
Joseph Jean Etienne Stanislas "Joe" Cattarinich - Born November 12, 1881 in Lévis / Quebec City, Quebec – Died December 7, 1938 in New Orleans, Louisiana, was a Canadian Ice Hockey defenseman, goaltender and co-owner of horse racing tracks in Canada and the United States as well as a co-owner of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League.
Cattarinich grew up in Quebec City and played Ice Hockey and lacrosse as a young man. Later, he lived in Levis near Quebec City. He is best known as the first goaltender of the professional Montreal Canadiens, then known as 'Les Canadiens'. He retired after Georges Vézina shut out Cattarinich's club in a game with Vézina's amateur Chicoutimi team (The Canadiens had been on a pre-season barnstorming tour to promote the upcoming season of the NHA). He was so impressed, that he recommended the Canadiens sign Vézina; and voluntarily stepped down, from his place on the team.(In those days, Hockey teams carried only one goaltender, as a rule.)
Cattarinich, though not a goalie by trade, was the third man to tend goal for the Montreal Canadiens. A steady defenseman for the Canadiens, Cattarinich was asked by coach Jack Laviolette to replace him after three games in goal himself. It is assumed that he played in 5 games before a man named Teddy Groulx finished out the final 7 games of the season. No statistical data is available for Cattarinich's stint in goal.
With longtime business partner Leo Dandurand, Cattarinich became prominent in the Montreal tobacco wholesaling business, but it was their popularization of the Parimutuel betting system at local tracks that provided their greatest commercial success. With the re-introduction of race track betting in the United States after World War I, the pair, known popularly as "Catta-Léo", extended their activities to racetracks in Chicago, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, New Orleans, and others in St. Louis and further afield.
In 1921, along with Dandurand and Louis Létourneau, Cattarinich purchased the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League from the estate of George Kennedy for $11,000. Although Dandurand was the active partner during their tenure (Cattarinich was known as "The Silent One" and Létourneau sold his stake in 1930), the Canadiens won three Stanley Cups with players such as Howie Morenz, Aurel Joliat, and Georges Vezina. After a series of losses (amounting to $40,000 for the 1934–35 season alone), Cattarinich and Dandurand sold the club to a syndicate comprising J. Ernest Savard, Maurice Forget, and Louis Gélinas in 1935 for $165,000.
Dandurand, Letourneau, and Cattarinich, owners of the Canadiens, presented an idea for a trophy to the National Hockey League in 1926-27 in memory of Georges Vézina. The outstanding goalkeeper collapsed during an NHL game Nov. 28, 1925, and died of tuberculosis a few months later - The Vezina Trophy was first awarded in 1927.
Cattarinich was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977 as a builder.
The 1909–1910 Montreal Canadiens season was the team's inaugural season and also the first season of the National Hockey Association (NHA). The 1910 Montreal Canadiens operated as 'Les Canadiens' and were owned by Ambrose O'Brien of Renfrew, Ontario as one of four franchises he owned in the NHA. After the season, the franchise was suspended and a NHA franchise was sold to George Kennedy (Georges Kendall). All of the players of 'Les Canadiens' went to Kennedy's organization.
After the Canadian Hockey Association (CHA) turned down Ambrose O'Brien's Renfrew Creamery Kings application for membership on November 25, 1909, O'Brien, along with Jimmy Gardner of the (also rejected) Montreal Wanderers organized the new National Hockey Association. The Wanderers desired a competitor team based in Montreal and Gardner suggested a team of francophone players to O'Brien to play on the rivalry between francophones and anglophones in Montreal. Gardner suggested that it be named 'Les Canadiens.
The new team was founded at the new NHA's meeting on December 4, 1909. O'Brien put up $5000 security for the new franchise on the "condition that it would be transferred to Montreal French sportsmen as soon as practicable." Jack Laviolette was hired to organize the new team, its official name Le Club de Hockey Le Canadien.
Laviolette was given free rein by the NHA owners to sign all francophone players. The others would not sign any until the Canadien team was set. His first signing was his old friend Didier "Cannonball" Pitre. Pitre was working in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario when he received a telegram from Laviolette outlining the team and to come to Montreal. At the train in North Bay, Ontario Pitre was met by an official of the CHA's Montreal Le National, who signed him on the spot for $1100, however Pitre had thought he was signing a contract with Laviolette. When Pitre arrived in Ottawa, Laviolette was there to meet him. Laviolette explained that it was the other French-Canadien team that Laviolette was managing. Pitre signed with Laviolette for a guaranteed $1700. Before the first game, legal action was initiated by the Nationals and an injunction was only lifted on the day of the first Canadien game. Laviolette's other signings went much easier. Newsy Lalonde signed on December 14 and he reported the next day to complete the roster.
When the CHA folded in January 1910, the franchise was offered by O'Brien to Le National but they declined to purchase the franchise. The Nationals turned down the offer, not willing to take on the contract to play in the Jubilee Rink, the cost of the player contracts of $6200 and debts of $1400. Le National, an established organization of some 14 years, instead folded their team.
The team had a record of 2–10–0 to finish last in the league. The team's first game was a win against Cobalt at home 7–6 in overtime, on January 5, 1910. The result was nullified when the NHA absorbed the CHA teams and created a new schedule. Cobalt later defeated Les Canadiens at Montreal 6–4. The team's first official win took place on February 7, 1910 against the Haileybury Hockey Club. The team did not win a game away from its home rink.
The Canadiens would finish out the schedule in last place with a record of 2-10, scoring 59 goals and allowing an even 100. The following season, only Lalonde, Pitre, Laviolette, Bernier and Poulin would return.