The efforts of New England entrepreneur Charles Adams were crucial to the growth of hockey in the Boston area during the 1920s. His sharp business instincts were rivalled only by his superb public relations skills. Not only did Adams' efforts benefit the sporting public in Boston, his work helped solidify the NHL during a crucial period of its growth.
The native of Newport, Vermont, just south of the Quebec border, landed his first job as a clerk in a local grocery store. Over the next few years he sharpened his vocational talent and utilized his inter-personal skills. In time he became the head of First National Stores, one of the major grocery chains in the United States.
Adams' favourite past time when not seeing to his business was taking in amateur games at the 3,500 seat Boston Arena. In 1924 he journeyed to Montreal where he developed a passion for pro hockey after witnessing the Stanley Cup final series between the Canadiens and Calgary Tigers.
His latest dream soon became the acquisition of a National Hockey League franchise in his home area. Adams' solid reputation and commitment impressed NHL president Frank Calder and the other team owners. He was granted a franchise in the summer of 1924 and a few months later the Boston Bruins hosted the first NHL game ever played in the United States.
The enthusiasm surrounding the Boston club soon dampened as the team struggled to find good players and compete in the league. Adams refused to stand pat and enhanced his squad by purchasing the entire Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) for a then enormous sum of $300,000. This changed the course of the Bruins' history by putting names such as Eddie Shore, Harry Oliver and Duke Keats into the black-and-gold uniforms. The Bruins could only take on a certain number of skaters from the WCHL. Consequently, a talent pool was made available for the new New York Rangers, Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Falcons franchises that transformed the NHL by the late 1920s.
Once the Bruins fortunes on the ice were improved, "C.F." turned his attention to getting the team into a world-class venue. A large indoor arena was needed for the Bruins as well as for the multitude of indoor events that were being scheduled in the fast-growing Boston metropolitan area. Adams was able to acquire the financial backing for the construction of a new arena by boldly guaranteeing a half-million dollars in gate receipts from the first five years of Boston home games. The team played its first home match at the Boston Garden on November 20, 1928 when they lost 1-0 to the Montreal Canadiens.
Under Adams' presidency, the Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 1929. He also played a key role in the growth of the local baseball and horseracing scene, including owning the Boston Braves baseball team. The immense contribution to the game of hockey by Adams and his heirs Weston Adams and Weston Adams Jr. was honoured in 1974 when the NHL named one of its four new divisions after one of hockey's first families.
Adams was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1960.