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Thomas Duggan

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Thomas Joseph Duggan (c.1880 – July 23, 1930) was a sports promoter with interests in horse racing, hockey, dog racing and arena management. He was the co-owner of the Mount Royal Arena and founder of the New York Americans of the National Hockey League (NHL).

In 1919, when Montreal's Jubilee Rink burned to the ground, Duggan joined up with George Kennedy, the owner of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens, the Jubilee's tenants, to build the Mount Royal Arena on the south side of Mont-Royal avenue between Clark and St. Urbain Streets. From there, Duggan and Kennedy promoted boxing, wrestling and hockey events under the banner of the National Sporting Club, and Duggan tried to get a franchise in the NHL for an English Montreal team to complement the Canadiens. When unsuccessful, he turned his sights southwards and obtained options for NHL franchises in the United States (where the league was looking to expand to thwart competition), selling one franchise to Boston grocery magnate Charles F. Adams and keeping another for himself (financed by bootlegger Bill Dwyer) to play in New York's Madison Square Garden.

Despite setbacks in Boston, where he accused Adams of reneging on the deal to give him half the profits, and New York, where an onerous lease arrangement constrained the profitability of the Americans, Duggan continued to be active in the various attempts to expand the NHL into the US northeast in the later part of the 1920s. At this time he also became interested in greyhound racing, running a racetrack in Cincinnati, but failed in his attempt to introduce the sport into Chicago Stadium. On a train on his way to Chicago, he was summoned by a Chicago underworld kingpin and told if he were smart, he would turn around and go home. He heeded the warning. He had shifted his hopes to establish the sport in New York when he died suddenly at his home in Montreal on July 23, 1930.

Although Duggan was an important pioneer in the expansion of professional hockey in the United States, his legacy has often been overlooked in favour of other men like Tommy Gorman, Tex Rickard and Bill Dwyer. As Baz O'Meara wrote in the Montreal Daily Star: "Essentially a pioneer and trustful to an unusual degree, he lost a considerable portion of the fruits of his vision." Duggan had predicted that hockey would be greatest attendance-getter of all sports in America and, while it never rivaled baseball, during the Depression it superseded boxing and other sports and proved the salvation of many arenas, including Madison Square Garden.


  • Wong, John (2005). Lords of the Rink. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 
  • "Thomas J. Duggan, Sports Promoter, Dies Suddenly", Montreal Gazette, July 23, 1930, p. 16. 

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