On December 8, 1886 (137 years ago), the teams that made up the circuit for the Montreal Winter Carnival (MWCHT) decided to create a stand-alone hockey league that did not coincide with the popular winter festival. The league was called the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC) and was made up by the Montreal Hockey Club, McGill University, Montreal Crystals, Montreal Victorias, and the Ottawa Hockey Club. These five teams participated in a season of series challenges at the Crystal and Victoria hockey rinks.
While the AHAC shared the same teams and play format as the MWCHT, the AHAC was its own entity, bringing together the best players in Hockey to play in a dedicated league. This was the first time ever that a league dedicated to Hockey was created, following the format established by Baseball’s National League. The biggest difference was that the AHAC was purely Amateur.
FanSeeStats classifies the AHAC as an Elite League as some of its clubs attracted the best players of their time and went on to organize another Elite League, the predecessor of the Major Leagues we have today.
The AHAC would last a long while with stable team membership and league championship dominance by two teams. Eventually the AHAC would be faced with pressure to expand its membership and this riff lead to the dissolution of the league, being replaced by a successor league in 1899 (124 years ago), the Canadian Amateur Hockey League (CAHL).
|Year||Champion||# of Teams|
|1888||Montreal Hockey Club||4|
|1889||Montreal Hockey Club||6|
|1890||Montreal Hockey Club||4|
|1891||Montreal Hockey Club||6|
|1892||Montreal Hockey Club||5|
|1893||Montreal Hockey Club||5|
|1894||Montreal Hockey Club||5|
League Championship Summary
# of seasons: 12
List of teams who won championships sorted by number of championships.
|Team||# of League Championships|
|Montreal Hockey Club||7 (1888-1894)|
|Montreal Victorias||4 (1885-1898)|
|Montreal Crystals||1 (1887)|
League Dissolution & Legacy
The Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC) would see Canada’s (and the World’s) elite hockey clubs play for supremacy between 1887 and 1898. The AHAC established Hockey through the following important events:
- The AHAC established the first balanced schedule of play in 1888 and 1890 and onwards. Previously the regular season was series of challenges against the team that held the championship title and any qualified team to issue a challenge. A balanced schedule cemented the importance of all teams being good against one another.
- The Stanley Cup would be introduced in 1893 and would be played initially by the AHAC but then the AHAC Champion would play other Hockey league champions.
- The AHAC would go on to form the CAHL in 1899 and that league would carry on to form a Hockey league lineage that continues to the present day!