April 5, 1947: L.A. won its first pro hockey title…or did they?

The Monarchs, shown here the season after they won the PCHL Championship

The Pacific Coast Hockey League existed off and on from 1928 to 1952, and the last incarnation — 1944-1952 — featured the Los Angeles Monarchs, Hollywood Wolves, Pasadena Panthers, San Diego Skyhawks, Fresno Falcons, Oakland Oaks and San Francisco Shamrocks, among twenty teams in California, Oregon, Washington and Western Canada (including an incarnation of the Vancouver Canucks).

On April 5, 1947, the Monarchs beat the Portland Eagles to win the PCHL Presidents Cup. I was going to write an article that referred tantalizingly to Los Angeles gearing up for its first pro hockey championship in 65 years…

…except that it turns out the PCHL didn’t turn pro until 1948, a year after L.A. won the championship. Prior to 1948, the NHL wouldn’t recognize the PCHL as a professional league since it viewed the territorial “rights” to be held by Lester Patrick, who — from 1911-1924 — had operated the Pacific Coast Hockey Association.

(According to Wikipedia, we can thank Lester and the PCHA for such innovations as the blue line, the forward pass, numbers on jerseys, the penalty shot, playoffs, and removing the rule that goalies had to stay on their feet.)

In 1948, the NHL finally granted the PCHL professional status.

Which means that the Monarchs were not, contrary to Wikipedia’s claim, the first and only pro hockey team to win a title in Los Angeles. Because the PCHL was not a professional league until two seasons later. (I’m sure there’s more to this story, but I don’t know it. Yet.)

Incidentally, the Monarchs, Hollywood Wolves and Pasadena whatevers all played at the Pan Pacific Auditorium. The Pan Pacific was closed after the — ugh — LA COnvention Center was built, and it remained derelict until it burned down in the 80s. It’s now a bunch of soccer fields and a Post Office opposite The Grove. Elvis played there. There are great pictures of the Monarchs at Pan Pacific to be found in the LAPL photo collection, for which click here: Manchester Monarchs, hockey in Los Angeles (plus some random field hockey pictures I couldn’t get rid of).

And, just for fun, here’s a link to the full page of the Long Beach Independent, page 32, from April 6 1947. Note the article in the leftmost column which decries the out of control salaries in baseball, which threaten the destruction of the sport. Average salaries have skyrocketed to $12,000 per year. Where will it end, they ask.


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