1910-11 was the last hurrah for the Silver Skates. Here's a photo of their legendary '09 Cup winners: From L-to-R: Vital LeBlanc, Wee Tommy Jenkins, Hump Mayfield, Gevis Murphy, Al Fleming, George Yeadon, Alan Hemmings, Bill Yeadon

All the drama and machinations that took place at the league meetings had resulted in a vastly different North American Hockey Confederation as the first games of the 1910-11 season approached:

  • League President (and Jack Connolly rubber-stamp) Daniel Connolly was gone (he was now managing the Connolly Brothers Mining Company full-time, leaving Jack to devote his attention to his hockey clubs). The new league president, was ironically, the former treasurer-secretary for the Amateur Alliance of Canadian Hockey Clubs, a fellow by the name of Percy Hopkins. He would go on to lead the NAHC for the next decade-plus and turn out to be a fine administrator and someone able to handle a wild and raucous group of club owners. 
  • The NAHC was down from seven clubs to five. Two clubs folded: Latchford and Long Lake. The Cobalt franchise (without equipment or players) was sold and moved. A fourth, Quebec, was technically saved by a last-minute sale, but had no players and was essentially starting over from ground zero.
  • Cobalt's franchise was relocated to Montreal and rechristened the Valiants. Like Quebec, the club had no players and was starting from scratch.
  • The folded and relocated clubs resulted in a lot of old (and some new) faces in new places.
  • Jack Connolly owned New Leiskard (the lone remaining "mining" club), Quebec and the Montreal Valiants, but sold the Quebec Champlains on the eve of the season opener.
  • Defenseman Max Dewar of the Montreal Nationals was heading up efforts to start a player's union - and had been talking about starting a player-owned league. 
  • Connolly used "signing bonuses" to get around the league's $5000 salary cap - much to the ire of his fellow owners (eventually they did the same thing).
  • Toronto hotelier and baseball club owner Albert "Bert" Thomas began constructing a brand-new state-of-the-art arena in downtown Toronto, but had no team to play in it.

The season began with a New Year's Eve tilt between the Ottawa Athletics and the brand-new Montreal Valiants resulted in an exciting 6-4 win for Ottawa, which would go on to have an outstanding season at 14-2, claiming both the Challenge and Connolly Cups in the process.

The New Leiskard club had another solid campaign as well - though again Connolly's high-priced charges felt short of the ultimate goal of a Challenge Cup. The Silver Skates posted an 11-5 mark, good for second best. Connolly's other club - the brand-new Valiants, went 9-7 to finish third while the club Connolly gave little attention to before selling - the Quebec Champlains - finished in the basement at 2-14. The biggest surprise though was the poor showing by the defending Cup champions. The Montreal Nationals stumbled badly (some said due to the disgruntled - and vocal - presence of Max Dewar) and finished 4-12.

The Ottawa club had the league's top two scorers - center Joe Heroux potted 36 goals (and had 5 assists) while his left-winger Frank Rerhard chipped in with 31 goals and 3 assists. Just to round it out, the Athletics had Martin Nolan who had 21 goals and a league-best 9 assists. All that added up to a league-best 119 goals for Ottawa who just flat-out pummeled opponents all season long (no other club scored more than New Leiskard's second-place tally of 77 goals). The Silver Skates' rover, Al Carson, was the only player not on Ottawa to top 20 goals (he finished with 23). The Silver Skates also got a good season out of RW Dolph Vandenburg, who scored 17 goals with three assists.

The Nationals' stars - Francis Craft (14 goals, 7 assists), Tip McLeod (16 g, 3 a) and Simon Lamoureaux (18 g, 2 a) were all far below their 1909-10 totals, as was goalie Didier Godin - whose GAA rose by nearly four full points from 2.17 to 6.16 in a terrible season. Max Dewar, sulking most of the season in Montreal, scored just four goals and two assists in his 11 games (he missed five games due to injury). Connolly had moved Gevis Murphy from Quebec to the Valiants to be the star of his new club and Murphy finished atop the club's scoring charts with 18 goals and six assists. Pete Boutet, who manned the right wing, also scored 18 for the Valiants (and added five assists). Quebec's forward line of Nap Bertrand (12 g, 2 a), Ralph Verville (12,2) and Max Thibodeau (11,2) was joined by young Paddy O'Donoghue (7 goals, 2 assists in 13 games) and would make big noise in the future. 

NAHC STANDINGS 1910-11      W  L  GF GA
Ottawa Athletics 14 2 119 60
New Leiskard Silver Skates 11 5 77 64
Montreal Valiants 9 7 64 66
Montreal Nationals 4 12 74 99
Quebec Champlains 2 14 54 99

As soon as the season ended, the Nationals, Athletics and Champlains' owners immediately began pressing Connolly for an inkling of what he'd do to live up to his promise to sell either New Leiskard or the Valiants. 

Connolly would say nothing until after Challenge Cup series. Ottawa would face challenges from both the MHC champion St. John (who they beat 13-4) and OIL champion Trois-Rivieres (who they beat 7-4). And when he did speak on the matter, all he would say was that he was "working on it." The other owners were, to put it mildly, not pleased by this non-response.

A week after the loss in the Challenge Cup's second game a newspaper article out of Toronto indicated that Connolly had lost a "veritable mint" that season between the high salaries of the Silver Skates and the debut performance of the Valiants who were outdrawn - by a lot - by the Nationals despite being the better club. This left a lingering question as the clubs dispersed that spring: what would be the fate of the Silver Skates? Or the Valiants for that matter?