Bill (L) and Frank (R) Yeadon, started the rival Continental Hockey Association in 1911

As had been the case the year before, the aftermath of the 1910-11 season brought massive changes to the professional hockey landscape. 

In the NAHC, Jack Connolly saw a downturn in profits for his mining interests exacerbate the financial issues caused by running an overpriced team in New Leiskard (where attendance was hard to come by) as well as a brand-new team in Montreal that had yet to find its following. So what to do? Well, as usual Connolly had a plan - he would disband the Silver Skates, but in a move that duplicated his machinations of the year before, he would "retain the franchise rights" and announced his second club would return for the 1912-13 season... in Toronto.

Why the wait? Well, Bert Thomas was busily building a state-of-the-art arena right across Front Street from the Union Station in downtown Toronto. But the arena (and its first-in-the-city ice plant) would not be ready for the 1911-12 season. So Connolly would have to wait. But... there was another issue: Thomas was building the arena to put his own team there. And, mainly out of lingering spite towards Connolly, the NAHC League President and his supporters (Montreal owner Al Trautman and Ottawa owner Martin Delaware) stood ready to approve Thomas' application at the next NAHC League Meetings. Things would certainly be interesting at those meetings and in 1912-13.

So the NAHC would operate as a four-team circuit in 1911-12. The Ottawa Athletics, Montreal Nationals, Montreal Valiants and Quebec Champlains represented the three largest cities in Canada and though some smaller metropolises would enter the league in later years, never again would a "frontier outpost" such as New Leiskard have a top-flight pro hockey team. With four clubs, the league again expanded its schedule - each club would face the other three in six games, for an 18-game schedule.  

As the NAHC owners met at the Global Grand in late October, the main discussion wasn't Connolly's end-around move into Toronto, but rather the new challenger that had arisen on the West Coast. Bill and George Yeadon, the independently-wealthy hockey playing brothers from British Columbia, had departed from the employ of Jack Connolly's New Leiskard club prior to the 1910-11 season and returned to Vancouver where they worked in the family's import/export business. But as both extremely talented hockey players and shrewd businessmen, the Yeadons would not be outside the game for long.

Several interested men approached the brothers about starting a western league. One potential obstacle was removed when their father, Jack Yeadon, agreed to provide his sons with capital if they wished to pursue a western league. Intrigued - and aggravated with the NAHC in general and with Jack Connolly in particular - George Yeadon persuaded his more reluctant brother to take the plunge. Realizing also the risk involved in a brand-new hockey league, the brothers decided that they would each take a financial partner and a minority share of team ownership in return for control of their teams. This allowed them to concentrate on running the club on the ice, signing players, and assuming less financial risk than they might otherwise have faced as controlling partners. It also reduced their potential for profit, but they were already wealthy, so this was (at the time) a secondary consideration.

Thinking big (as usual), the Yeadons dubbed their new circuit the Transcontinental Hockey Association (TCHA) and there would be three clubs for the first season:

  • the Vancouver Pacific Club, an equal partnership between Rawley Cummings as business manager and George Yeadon as GM and player-coach
  • the Victoria Capital Club, an equal partnership between Reginald Weston as business manager and Bill Yeadon as GM and player-coach
  • the Surrey Seals, owned by George Hawkens and operated by Leo Gariepy as GM and coach

The Yeadons went all in on the new league. They built arenas in both Vancouver and Victoria for their teams (Surrey would share the Vancouver arena with the Pacifics). Both arenas would have ice plants, a necessity in the more temperate British Columbia weather, and though the Vancouver arena was much larger (seating 10,000 as compared to Victoria's 4,500) both were fantastic venues. Surrey manager Leo Gariepy had been the Silver Skates coach the previous season and was an experienced and talented coach with a good eye for talent. And the Yeadons had found three aggressive owners - they set out to stock their new club with top-level talent, fully realizing that this tactic had worked extremely well for Jack Connolly and his mining-town clubs, so why not out west as well?

George Yeadon would act as League President - and a good one he would prove to be. Among the things he did was immediately draft rules and procedures that largely mirrored those in place in the NAHC. If it worked in Ontario and Quebec, why wouldn't it work in British Columbia? He also decided that the TCHA would play seven-man hockey - using a rover, which was being phased out of the NAHC. Yeadon felt the extra player made the game more exciting. The brothers also felt that by mirroring the NAHC in most things it would make their case for participating in Challenge Cup tournaments all the more convincing. Now they just had to find some players.

As William Whitney had warned back in 1909, a full-scale war for player talent was on the horizon. The players in the NAHC had already, to some extent, grown accustomed to "chasing the check" thanks to Connolly's aggressive pursuit of top-level talent. The players would go west if the TCHA was willing to pay a premium - and thanks to Jack Yeadon's millions - it was. With the Silver Skates having been disbanded, there was a lot of top talent available and the Yeadons had played with or against many of them. 

At the NAHC meeting in a superb display of a complete lack of self-awareness, Jack Connolly proposed banning any player who signed with the TCHA. Though they were all-too aware of the irony in this, the other NAHC owners agreed. But it didn't matter as a flood of talent left the NAHC for the western circuit, leaving the NAHC to in turn raid the Ontario Industrial League for players.

In an interesting footnote, the 27-year-old star center of the Silver Skates (and one of the best hockey players in the world at the time), Wee Tommy Jenkins, retired rather than go to another team. For one thing, he had married Jack Connolly's daughter and didn't want to leave New Leiskard. So instead of continuing his career, Jenkins hung up his skates and became the postmaster of New Leiskard. Also retiring that season were such standouts as Nap Hebert, Tom DeWitt and goalie Didier Godin. Hebert and Godin went into coaching. DeWitt returned home to Alberta and the family farm. And on a sadder note, the playing career of Martin Nolan (who had scored the first goal in NAHC history) ended when he was hit by a car on Yonge Street in Toronto in the early spring of 1911. Nolan suffered severe injuries that resulted in the amputation of his left arm. Left unable to play, he became a referee in 1911-12 before starting a coaching career the following season.