The NHL struggled through a difficult season that began with only three teams in the league, the same three that had played most of the league's first season. Twenty games were scheduled, but the Toronto Arenas withdrew because of financial problems after 18 games.
A best-of-seven series was staged between the two remaining teams, Montreal and Ottawa, to determine the league champion. Montreal won it in five games and then headed to Seattle for the Stanley Cup series.
The Seattle Metropolitans, second during the Pacific Coast Hockey Association's regular season, had knocked off first-place Vancouver in that league's championship series.
The PCHA still played seven-man hockey. As had been done the previous year, the teams alternated between NHL and PCHA rules, only this time PCHA rules were used in the first game because Seattle was hosting the series.
After five games, including a tie, the series was called off because several Montreal players had come down with the Spanish flu. One of them, Joe Hall, died in a Vancouver hospital. Seattle could have won the sixth game and the Stanley Cup by forfeit, but refused to do so.