The 1917-1918 Toronto Arenas Season was the first season for the club in the newly created National Hockey League. The team itself was only meant to be a temporary placeholder for a more permanent Toronto franchise, but eventually finished the season as Stanley Cup champion, the first such championship for a Toronto franchise in the NHL.
The Toronto franchise, Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, and Ottawa Senators were the original four teams of the league. The Wanderers would not finish the season, as the Montreal Arena burned down on January 2, 1918, and the club would cease league operations after just six games.
The Torontos would finish the first half of the season with a 8-6-0 record, finishing second to the Montreal Canadiens. However, Toronto put up a league best 5-3-0 record in the second half of the season, earning a spot in the O'Brien Cup finals against the Canadiens. Overall, the Torontos finished 13-9-0, tied with the Montreal Canadiens with the best record in the NHL. The Torontos were especially strong on home ice, earning a record of 10-1-0 at Arena Gardens.
During a game on January 28, 1918, Alf Skinner of the Torontos and Joe Hall of the Montreal Canadiens were involved in a stick swinging duel. Both players received match penalties, $15 fines, and were arrested by the Toronto Police for disorderly conduct, in which they received suspended sentences.
Reg Noble led the Torontos with 28 goals, which placed him third in the league, while Corbett Denneny had 20 goals, and Harry Cameron scored 17 goals. Alf Skinner, Ken Randall, and Harry Meeking would each scored double-digit goal totals, scoring 13, 12, and 10 respectively. Randall led the club with 55 penalty minutes, while Rusty Crawford earned 51 penalty minutes in only 9 games after being acquired from Ottawa.
In goal, Hap Holmes played the majority of games, earning a club high 10 victories, while backup Arthur Brooks posted a team best 4.00 GAA.
As the top teams from each halves of the season, the Torontos would face the Canadiens for the O'Brien Cup, and the winner would represent the NHL in the Stanley Cup finals in a two game total goal series. In the opening game at Mutual Street Arena, Toronto easily defeated the Canadiens, winning the game by a 7-3 score. The series moved over to Jubilee Arena in Montreal for the second game, and while the Canadiens won the game 4-3, the Torontos outscored Montreal 10-7 in the series, and advanced to the Stanley Cup finals.
Toronto would face the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association to determine the winner of the 1918 Stanley Cup Finals in a best of 5 series, with all games being played at Mutual Street Arena. Toronto won the first game of the series by a 5-3 score. However, the Millionaires tied the series with a 6-4 win in the second game. The teams would again split the next two games, setting up a fifth and final game. The Torontos would hold off the Millionaires for a 2-1 victory, as Corbett Denneny scored the winning goal of the game and the series.
Toronto Arenas 3 - Vancouver Millionaires 2
Games 1, 3, and 5 played with NHL rules, Games 2 and 4 played with PCHA rules.