There are many things that the popular television program The Simpsons is credited for doing first on TV or for correctly predicting. An entire episode of South Park was dedicated to this idea.
There is one thing that the Simpsons did second, and in fact, the NHL did first.
If you watch the episode 'Stoncutters', you'll see an exclusive club allow a member to take over and dictate inane rules until everyone gives up and quits and forms their own club. This isn't a far fetched idea, in fact it's how the NHL was formed.
On December 2nd 1909, the National Hockey Association was formed consisting of the Renfrew Creamery Kings, Montreal Wanderers, Montreal Canadiens, Cobalt Silver Kings, and Haileybury Comets. These teams were top in their respective leagues but wanted a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, having been denied previously by teams in the Canadian Hockey Association - all aside from the Montreal Canadiens, who were founded by the owner of Renfrew to attract francophone fans to the new league. Eventually in 1912, two Toronto teams joined the NHA, and eventually one team, the Toronto Ontarios would be purchased by Eddie Livingstone. Livingstone was a successful manager of amateur hockey, leading the Toronto Rugby and Athletic Association to two J. Ross Robertson cups, awarded to the top amateur ice hockey team in Ontario, in 1913 & 14. Livingstone found he was a natural at running a hockey team, and decided to buy his way into the National Hockey Association.
In the Simpsons episode 2F09 entitled “Homer the Great”, Homer Simpson finds out there’s a club he is not a part of, and after tracking down his friends to its location, he finds a way of becoming a member and forces himself into their group, know as the Stonecutters. Homer would be admitted to the club; however, he would commit multiple faux pas, such as using the Stonecutter constitution as a bib on ribs night.
Livingstone would butt heads with multiple NHA owners. In the 1914-15 season, he would refuse to play a game against the Montreal Wanderers because he could not ice a full team with two players off to be with their dying father. Livingstone wanted the game postponed, but the Wanderers refused and were awarded a victory by forfeit by the league. Apparently Wanderers owner, Sammy Lichtenhein offered to play the game at the end of the season, but reneged on the offer and demanded Livingstone be expelled from the NHA.
After being expelled from the Stonecutters, Homer Simpsons was found to have a birthmark in the shape of the Stonecutter symbol, and Stonecutter lore foretold that ‘The Chosen One’ would appear with this mark and lead the group to greatness. Homer was reinstated as ‘The Chosen One’ and leader of the Stonecutters. He would try to make the group do charity work, and other activities to benefit the great society like running a daycare and painting a children’s hospital.
This upset the Stonecutters who were used to sitting around and drinking beer at meetings.
Ahead of the 1915-16 season Livingstone bought the Toronto Blueshirts franchise so he would own both Toronto teams. The NHA did not approve of this and ordered Livingstone to sell one of the teams. He said he would sell the Shamrocks (the renamed Toronto Ontarios), but before doing so transferred the best players to the Blueshirts to fill holes made after the PCHA wooed away the best players from the Blueshirts.
Rendering the Shamrocks worthless, the NHA seized the franchise from Livingstone, and in 1917 granted the franchise rights to the Canadian Infantry, who formed a team with World War I recruits. Livingstone was again furious at losing more top players such as Harry Cameron, George McNamara, Howard McNamara, and Percy LeSueur, even if it was because they had joined the war effort. When Cy Denneny was moving to Ottawa, Livingstone refused to allow him to play for the Ottawa Senators. Eventually he had come to an agreement with the Wanderers, but backed out of that deal, and in the process of eventually allowing Denneny to play for Ottawa he deepened his feud with the Wanderers and created a new nemesis in the Ottawa team.
Homer’s work was good for the community, and made him a hero to his daughter Lisa. However the rest of the Stonecutters were growing resentful, and were upset at being bound to the rules of the Stoncutters, which meant they could not kick Homer out of the club. At a meeting of the clubs leaders (without Homer present), they suggested options such as: ‘Killing the fool’, as suggested by Mr. T or ‘Doing something to his voice box’ as suggested by former US president George Bush.
In 1917 the NHA team owners (without Livingstone present), met in Montreal to discuss the difficulties of operating the league with Livingstone, but the officially stated reason was to discuss the difficulties of operating the league during conscription, and operating a five team league. They could not simply expel Livingstone from the league.
The Stonecutters eventually realized that they could not be the Stonecutters without Homer Simpson. One week later however, a new organization was founded. “No Homers” was the newest, most popular club in town. They even let in Homer Glumplin, because it’s No Homers, plural, so they were allowed to have one person named Homer in the club. Homer was left alone, just him and the monkeys he gathered to reenact the US Civil War.
On November 26th, 1917 the owners of the Quebec Bulldogs, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, and Montreal Wanderers elected to form a new league, the National Hockey League, with a temporary franchise granted to the Toronto Arena Company, to take the place of the Quebec Bulldogs that opening season.
Eddie Livingstone was left alone in the National Hockey Association, but fought the NHL and Toronto Arena Company in court to be financially compensated for his loss of players. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that no one acted inappropriately, and after a decade in the courts, Livingstone was left with no team and no compensation.
In the end Homer Simpson learned that the best club he could belong to was the Simpson Family. He moved on from the Stonecutters, and forgot about the No Homers, and would move on that year to other adventures, such as becoming a clown, rescuing a stolen lemon tree, and travelling to Australia to settle a debt of five hundred dollary-doos.
The Toronto Arena Company would get to keep their franchise permanently, however the lawsuits from Livingstone would force them to go bankrupt and halt play mid-season in 1918-19. They would re-emerge as a new company, Toronto Arena Hockey Club, and continue playing in the NHL until this day, changing ownership eight more times and the names twice - to the St. Patricks and then to the Maple Leafs, celebrating the 100th anniversary of their first game tomorrow afternoon.