On December 15, 1925, the New York Americans lose to the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, in the formal opening of New York’s Madison Square Garden, which becomes one of the world’s most famous sporting venues. The game, played before 17,000 fans, is also the first NHL game played at the arena. “Garden Is Opened in a Blaze of Color,” read the headline for a story about the debut in the New York Times.
Madison Square Garden’s owner, Tex Rickard, a boxing promoter, wanted the arena’s first big sports event to be important. He insisted the Americans play host to the Canadiens, the second-best team in the league that season.
For opening night at the new arena, the lower bowl was filled with men in tuxedos and women in furs and evening gowns, according to the NHL website.
“The evening started at 8:30,” wrote the Times in 2015, “with the Canadiens and the Americans skating to center ice, accompanied by the 44-piece Governor General’s Foot Guard regimental band from Ottawa and the 35-piece drum and bugle corps from West Point. They played “God Save the King” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The Americans, who ceased to exist after 1942, were the first NHL team in New York. They were supplanted by the Rangers, who began play in 1926.
Over the years, Madison Square Garden was home of the New York Knicks, Rangers, college basketball, boxing matches, professional wrestling and other sporting events, dogs shows, the circus and more. A new Madison Square Garden opened nearby in 1968. The old structure was demolished.