Arthur Bernier - Les Canadiens / Le Club de Hockey Le Canadien / Montreal Canadiens.
Art (Arthur) George Bernier - Born July 16, 1886 in Kingston, Ontario – Died May 22, 1953, was a professional Ice Hockey player.
Bernier played intermediate Hockey for Belleville in the Ontario Hockey Association in the 1903–04 season. He joined the Canadian army in 1904 and played Hockey for the Kingston 14th Regiment in Senior OHA play for three seasons from 1906–1909. He joined the Montreal Canadiens in the team's inaugural 1909-1910 season and played the full 12 game season. He was among the scorers in the Canadiens first-ever game, a 7-6 win against Cobalt in which his mother was hurt in the stands by a stick due to the lack of protective coverage for the viewers in attendance. Bernier scored 12 goals, and 25 penalty minutes in the Les Canadiens first season.
He played 3 games for the Galt Professionals after the NHA season was finished. He returned to the Canadiens for the 1910–11 and only played in 3 games. The next season he joined the Wanderers and played in 10 games, scoring 4 goals.
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.