Blackhawks History Links
Last time on Blackhawks History, the Black Hawks were bounced in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
The road back to the Stanley Cup would not be without even bigger pitfalls. Read on and see…
As in the previous year, there was no real change to the Black Hawks during the offseason — besides James E. Norris becoming the team’s landlord (he had bought Chicago Stadium that year). Clem Loughlin was retained as coach while Johnny Gottselig would remain captain. The team would then go on to have their worst season since 1928-29, with a 14-27-7 record, “good” enough for last place in the American Division. They would miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1932-33 season.
Defenseman Earl Seibert would have a decent year, with 9 goals and 15 points and a spot on the Second All-Star Team at the end of the year. This, however, was overshadowed by a split-second decision that cast a pall over the season and the rest of his career.
On January 28, 1937, the Black Hawks were playing the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal. During the first period, Seibert was chasing down Howie Morenz for the puck when Morenz fell to the ice after losing his balance; his left skate was stuck in the boards. Seibert was unable to stop and slammed into the leg, snapping it with such force that the sound echoed through the arena. Morenz was taken to the hospital and learned that his leg was broken in four places. After almost two months in the hospital, Morenz died from a blood clot that had traveled from his leg to his heart on March 8.
Seibert never forgave himself for the accident, and would say that he was the one who “killed” Morenz.
In early 1937, with attendance falling, the fiercely patriotic Frederic McLaughlin would begin to implement his plan to finally ice an all-American lineup, bringing in five US-born players onto the team to skate in front of Mike Karakas. These five new players — Al Suomi, Ernest “Ike” Klingbeil, Milton Brink, Paul “Butch” Schaefer, and Ben “Bun” LaPrairie — would have to wait until the last five games of the season to make it to the ice, when the Blackhawks were finally out of the playoff race. They combined for a total of one goal and two assists.
None would return to the Black Hawks the next year, but as of this writing, Al Suomi is currently the oldest living former NHL player — all thanks to McLaughlin’s marketing ploy.
During the offseason, there would be yet another head coaching change. Loughlin was replaced with Bill Stewart, who was the first US-born NHL referee before he was tapped to be the Black Hawks’ new coach.
The night before the season began, the NHL held its second All-Star Game, a benefit for the late Howie Morenz’s wife and children. Captain Gottselig and Mush March would represent the Black Hawks as part of the All-Stars, who took on the Montreal Canadiens. Gottselig would score a goal in the 6-5 All-Stars victory.
The Black Hawks would struggle thanks to McLaughlin’s insistence that the team still skate as many American players as possible. They finished under .500 with a 14-25-9 record and a league-worst 97 goals. They would be kept out of the bottom of the American League by none other than the previous year’s Stanley Cup winners, the Detroit Red Wings. Cully Dalhstrom won the Calder Trophy at the end of the regular season, while Paul Thompson would lead the team with 22 goals and 44 points. Thompson was named to the First All-Star Team at the end of the season, while Seibert was named to the Second All-Star Team.
By finishing two points ahead of the Red Wings, they qualified, almost by default, for the playoffs.
The team would first face the Canadiens in a three-game series (the playoff format had changed from a two-game, total goal series the previous year). In game one, the Canadiens would beat the Black Hawks 6-4, with Toe Blake getting the hat trick. In the second game, however, Karakas would shut out the Canadiens as the Black Hawks won 4-0. In game three, Seibert would score late in the game to tie it 2-2, sending it into overtime before the Black Hawks would win it, stunning the Canadiens.
In the semi-finals, the team would take on the New York Americans in a three-game series. After the Americans beat the Black Hawks 3-1 in the first game, it seemed as if the Americans had finally done away with the team in the second game, with Nels Stewart scoring with seconds left. However, it was determined that Eddie Wiseman was in the goal crease, and the goal was disallowed. Dahlstrom scored in overtime, assuring that the Black Hawks would live another day. In game three, Alex Levinsky would score the go-ahead goal… but the goal light didn’t turn on; Americans’ fans were holding the goal judge’s hand to keep from signaling the goal. The Black Hawks would win the game 3-1 and were headed to the Stanley Cup Finals to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in a best of five series.
Just before game one, Karakas suffered a broken toe. This led the Black Hawks to scramble for a replacement goaltender when their regular backup, Paul Goodman, didn’t arrive in Toronto in time. Gottselig was sent to look for a minor-league goalie named Alfie Moore and found him… in a local bar. He had already had a few, but he managed to sober up enough to help win the game 3-1. After the game, league president Frank Calder declared Moore ineligible to play, but allowed victory to stand.
Goodman would substitute for Karakas in game two, but the Maple Leafs would win that game 5-1. Karakas returned in game three wearing a steel-toe boot, and the Black Hawks would win that game 2-1. In game four, Karakas would still wear the boot as the Black Hawks won the game 4-1 to clinch the Stanley Cup, capping the most improbable Stanley Cup run in NHL history.
|1938 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS|
|3||Jack Shill||14||Carl Voss*|
|15||Carol “Cully” Dahlstrom|
|5||Harold “Mush” March||6||Paul Thompson|
|7||Johnny Gottselig (Captain)||12||Ewlyn “Doc” Romnes*|
|16||Louis Trudel||18||Pete Palangio1|
|2||Art Wiebe||8||Alex Levinsky*|
|9||Harold “Hal” Jackson2||14||Bill MacKenzie|
|17||Earl Seibert||18||Virgil Johnson*2|
|1||Mike Karakas*||1||Alfie Moore (substitute)2|
|1||Paul Goodman (substitute)2|
|Frederic McLaughlin* (President/Owner)||Bill Tobin (Vice-President)|
|Thorne Donnelley (Secretary-Treasurer)||Bill Stewart*3 (Manager-Coach)|
|Eddie Froelich2 (Trainer)|
|1 When the cup was redesigned during the 1957–58 season, Pete Palangio’s name was first misspelled as Palago before being corrected.|
|2 These six names were left off the cup, but four were on the original ring: Virgil Johnson, Paul Goodman, Alfie Moore, and Ed Froelich. When the cup was redesigned during the 1958-59 season, these names were left off the new ring.|
|3 Bill Stewart was the first American-born and 5th NHL rookie coach to win the Stanley Cup.|
The Black Hawks set records for the number of Americans on the team (eight), as well as an NHL record for attendance in game four, with 18,497. This would the last time a Chicago team would win a championship in Chicago Stadium until the Bulls won in 1992. This would be the only time a team with a losing regular-season record would go on to win the Stanley Cup.
Before this season began, the Montreal Maroons folded — and so went the American and Canadian Divisions. The NHL would then play in a single league from 1938 until 1967.
The Black Hawks got off to a 8-10-3 start, so Bill Stewart was removed as coach; he returned to refereeing. He was replaced by Paul Thompson as player-coach. The Blackhawks would sputter to a 4-18-5 record under Thompson and ended dead last in the NHL. becoming the only team to miss the playoffs a year after their Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup. The team would put up a league-low 91 goals. Despite this, Gottselig and Seibert would end up on the Second All-Star Team.
That’s about as much as I can say about this garbage season. Let’s move on.
After the end of the previous season, Thompson would retire from playing. He would be retained as the full-time head coach of the team, and the team responded favorably to this. They ended the season with a 23-19-6 record, putting them over .500 for the first time since the 1935-36 season. They also improved 20 points to 52, their best point total since the 1934-34 season and putting them in fourth in the NHL.
The team would start the year with Karakas in goal, but after a 7-9-1 record and a 3.31 GAA, he would be loaned to the Canadiens. (This could also have something to do with the fact that he had asked for a $500 pay raise after helping the team win the Stanley Cup. The team refused to pay.) The Black Hawks would then recall Paul Goodman, who posted a 16-10-5 record.
Thompson was named to the First All-Star Team as coach this year, while Seibert was named to the Second All-Star Team.
The team would return to the playoffs and faced the Toronto Maple Leafs in a best of three series. Toronto would win the first game 3-2 in overtime before winning the second game 2-1 to eliminate the Black Hawks from playoff contention.
Gottselig would only play in five games for the Black Hawks this year, so Seibert was named the new captain of the team.
The Black Hawks would retain Thompson as head coach; however, the team would struggle to a 16-25-7 record and 39 points. They would struggle yet again to score goals, only managing to get 112, second-fewest in the league.
Goodman would start the season in goal, but after a 7-10-4 start, he would be replaced by Sam LoPresti. He would post a 9-15-3 record in goal. His main claim to fame is when he faced 83 shots on goal on March 4, 1941 in a game against the Boston Bruins. The Black Hawks would lose the game 3-2. For those who are too lazy to do the math, that means LoPresti turned away 80 shots on goal — still an NHL record.
The Black Hawks would end the regular season in fifth place and would face the Montreal Canadiens in the first round in a best of three series. The Black Hawks won the first game 2-1 before the Canadiens came back to win the second game 4-3. In the third game, the Black Hawks managed to pull out another one-goal win, 3-2.
In the next round, the Black Hawks faced the Detroit Red Wings in a best of three series. The Red Wings dispatched the Black Hawks in two games, 3-1 and 2-1, on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Thus ended the Black Hawks’ season.
The United States would head into World War II next season… so come back on Wednesday and see how the team (and the NHL in general) would be affected by this.