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The Vancouver Millionaires

I love discovering forgotten history - no more so than a slice of hockey history around this time of year.

Photo: BC Sports Hall of Fame & Museum
It's a good bet a number of Vancouverites have heard the story of a team known as "The Millionaires" and that Vancouver actually did once claim hockey's greatest prize.

But I'm Toronto born and bred and yes, a long-suffering Maple Leafs fan, so probably a bit more typical of the average Canadian who, upon hearing the words "hockey" and "millionaires" in one breath, thinks it's a description of every NHL franchise on the continent.

Well yes, I guess it is.

But if you ever get a chance - look closely, look very, very closely at the cup portion of the Stanley Cup, and you will see, etched in silver, the words Vancouver Hockey Club and the year 1915.

The Vancouver Hockey Club had a number of different names in the years after its birth exactly 100 years ago. But in hockey lore, the team is known as The Millionaires, loosely for the bank-rollers and bank-rollees who crossed a nation to bring pro-hockey to Canada's west coast.

The Millionaire's best player was a superstar, some say the first superstar of the game, the Crosby or Gretzky of his day.

Photo: BC Sports Hall of Fame & Museum
Fred "Cyclone" Taylor may have developed his incredible skating speed on a frozen river in Ontario, but it was in Vancouver where he eventually put down roots. Generations of Taylors who came next still call British Columbia home.

Cyclone Taylor Sports is a Vancouver-area institution, where young and old stop by for the latest hockey equipment, or just to get their blades sharpened.

But when I dropped by the other day, it was almost as if the name and the legend are taken a bit for granted.

Not by the gentleman fitting a customer for a new pair of skates.

He's Cyclone Taylor's grandson Mark, and not a bad hockey player himself, having spent six seasons in the NHL during the 1980s.

Cyclone Taylor died a couple of years before his grandson debuted with the pros, and he obviously never saw the Canucks bring back the Stanley Cup to Vancouver either.

But Mark Taylor says his grandfather was a huge fan and used to take him to all the games.

As for this moment, the Canucks on their final-round charge for hockey glory, Mark Taylor says Cyclone will be "looking down and cheering".

A century after Vancouver embraced professional hockey, Cyclone's spirit has a lot of company.

Click here to watch Peter Mansbridge's story about the Vancouver Millionaires and Cyclone Taylor's descendants, produced by Stephanie Jenzer.