Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Other Ghosts of Flatbush: Brooklyn Americans Hockey Club

As part of their celebrating the New York Islanders inaugural season in the Borough, the Brooklyn Historical Society recently concluded a Winter long exhibit featuring the former NHL Brooklyn Americans Hockey Club.

The New York Americans were established in 1924, two full seasons before Tex's Rangers laced up their first pair of skates.  Although both teams played in the same building (old Madison Square Garden), competitively speaking, by 1941-1942 they were leagues apart.

Ownership attempted to gain a foothold in Brooklyn, and played as such during the 1941-1942 season.  However, the outbreak of WWII (particularly Canada's initial participation) took a heavy toll on their roster which necessitated the Americans to suspend operations the following season.  When ownership applied for reinstatement in 1946, the NHL denied them in favor of retaining a balanced six team circuit, but more precisely, because the junior member Rangers claimed eminent domain.

Under head coach Art Chapman, the 1941-1942 Brooklyn Americans placed last with a 16-29-3 record in a seven team circuit.  The New York Rangers finished first in the standings, but it was the Toronto Maple Leafs whom captured the Stanley Cup that season.

British born defenseman and Brooklyn All-Star Tommy Anderson was Team Captain.  He led the Amerks with 41 points and won the 1941-1942 Hart Trophy.

Left winger Norm Larson led the team with 16 goals.

After appearing in 12 games as a rookie (1940-1941) with the New York Americans, goalie Chuck Rayner played his first full NHL season for Brooklyn.  When the team suspended operations, he went on to enjoy an eight year stint with the New York Rangers, for which he was elected to Hockey's Hall of Fame in 1973.

In truth, owner Red Dutton only moved team practice to the old Ice Palace on Eastern Parkway, and merely re-branded them as Brooklyn.  The Americans, however, continued playing their home games as tenants at Madison Square Garden.

They made a total of five playoff appearances while branded as New York.

In their last ever home game, the Brooklyn Americans defeated the eventual Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs by a 6-3 final score.  The last game in the New York/Brooklyn Americans 17-year history came two days later on March 17, 1942, in which they lost 8-3 to the Bruins in Boston.

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