Lichtenhein, Samuel : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Lichtenhein, Samuel

Samuel Edward Lichtenhein

The owner (and president) of the Montreal Wanderers in the 1910s, Lichtenhein was a founding member of the National Hockey League in November, 1917. A remarkable character, Lichtenhein took over the Wanderers in 1911 and was present at an owner's meeting of the National Hockey Association that year. Lichtenhein opposed the suggestion to change the game from a seven-man team to six players, insisting, "We'll offend everybody in Canada...Hockey is a seven-man game, everybody in Canada knows it. We can't buck tradition." Without a complete agreement, the NHA couldn't adopt six-man hockey, but the problem was solved when someone said to Lichtenhein, "Did it ever occur to you, Sam...that with six-man hockey you would have one less salary to pay ?" Lichtenhein responded, "I never thought of that. By George, this is a great idea, this six-man hockey. I'm for it." The six-man limit was established officially in 1913.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Oct. 24, 1870 - d. June 21, 1936

Career Highlights:
Born in Chicago, Lichtenhein moved to Montreal with his family as a child. After attending Loyola College in Montreal, Lichtenhein became a businessman (he was president of Montreal Cotton and Wool Waste, and International Wool Waste in Boston at the time of his death), and eventually owned teams in two sports. In 1910, Lichtenhein took over the Montreal Royals of the Eastern Baseball League (he owned the club for seven years before it disbanded), and a year later bought the Montreal Wanderers of the National Hockey Association (NHA).

The Wanderers had won four Stanley Cups during the previous decade, (including the 1910 championship), and were one of the most successful teams in early hockey history. By the time Lichtenhein took over the club, however, the franchise was in financial trouble. When the NHA folded, the Wanderers became one of the original members of the National Hockey League in November, 1917. Although the Wanderers won the first-ever NHL game over the Toronto Arenas, 10-9, on December 19, 1917, the club was in trouble.

Just prior to the season opener, a lack of players caused by injuries and military service in World War I, prompted Lichtenhein to tell the Toronto Globe, "You may say for me, and make it as emphatic as you can, that unless the Wanderers get some players from some of the other clubs [in the NHL]... the [Wanderers] will not have a team this season." When a fire destroyed Montreal Arena, the building the team shared with the Montreal Canadiens (who moved to a smaller arena), Lichtenhein folded the franchise only six games into the season, and ceased his affiliation with professional hockey. He remained in Montreal for the rest of his life and was an important member of the city's vibrant Jewish community.

Chicago, Illinois

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League, edited by Dan Diamond, James Duplacey, Ralph Dinger, Igor Kuperman, and Eric Zweig (New York: Total Sports, 1998)
Montreal Gazette, June 22, 1936