How a Team in Seattle, of All Places, Changed Hockey Forever

“It was Seattle’s domination during these years that forced professional hockey to legalize the forward pass in the 1918 season,” Bowlsby said. “Prior to that, everyone except the P.C.H.A. made lateral passes, like rugby.”

Despite the Metropolitans’ nine years of existence, there is not so much as a plaque to commemorate the team and its influence. The N.H.L. also has not acknowledged Seattle’s history in its centennial celebrations, which began Jan. 1.

John Dellapina, the N.H.L.’s vice president for communications, said the league was “focused solely upon players’ accomplishments in N.H.L. games or N.H.L.-organized events and moments that occurred since the founding of the league in November of 1917 and the playing of its first games in December of 1917.”


A scorecard commemorating the team’s 1916-17 season.

David Eskenazi Collection

The anniversary of the first American Stanley Cup would have probably passed unnoticed if not for the efforts of Paul Kim, a Seattleite who approached the sports commission in January with a plea to do something to mark the occasion.

Kim became smitten with the lost franchise after immigrating to Seattle from South Korea as a child.

“I was in the fourth grade and just learning to read English when a teacher gave me a book about this old hockey team,” he said.

Kim, 26, went on to play junior hockey and work at pro shops around the city. The Metropolitans fascination remained. In 2015 he helped talk the Toronto-based Hockey Hall of Fame into bringing the Stanley Cup to Seattle, where it was brought to hockey tournaments and children’s hospitals.

Kim also obtained the trademark for the Metropolitans’ name, logo, and red, white and green barber pole jersey designs.

He has been selling Metropolitans gear to finance awareness of the team, but said he had secured the brand mostly for that fateful day when an N.H.L. team comes to Seattle.


Pete Muldoon, the Metropolitans coach, in the Seattle Ice Arena in an undated photograph.

David Eskenazi Collection

The N.H.L.-to-Seattle talk has escalated, but the N.H.L. has been adamant that the city would need to have a new arena before it could be considered for an expansion team or a relocated one. Two high-powered groups are proposing to develop sites at opposite ends of downtown that could accommodate N.H.L. and N.B.A. teams.

Morton, of the Seattle Sports Commission, is confident an N.H.L. team will arrive within a decade.

“When it does, I can’t wait for the rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks,” he said.

Seattle fans could easily bring the trash talk, having won the Stanley Cup more recently than the rival 140 miles or so up Interstate 5, despite not having a team for the past 90 years.

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