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Hawks hope 11th Final trip ends title drought

by John McGourty / Chicago Blackhawks
The 1961 Blackhawks were the last to hoist the Stanley Cup.

This is the 11th time the Chicago Blackhawks have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. They have won only three -- and none since 1961, the longest drought for an Original Six team.

The Blackhawks also won the Stanley Cup in 1934 and 1938.

First, the victories:

1961: Defeated Red Wings, 4-2

Youngsters Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Bill Hay, Murray Balfour and Ab McDonald joined veteran forwards Ken Wharram, captain Eddie Litzenberger, Eric Nesterenko, and Tod Sloan, goalie Glenn Hall and an outstanding defense of Pierre Pilote, Elmer Vasko, Jack Evans, Dollard St. Laurent, Reggie Fleming and Al Arbour.

The team had a roller-coaster season with a hot start, a long slump, a seven-game winning streak and an 11-10-9 finish, ending up third behind the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. Hay led the team with 48 assists, while Hull was tops with 31 goals. Mikita had 19 goals and Balfour had 21, as did veteran Ron Murphy.

The Blackhawks met the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs for the third-straight year but this time ended the Canadiens' run of five Stanley Cup championships, winning in six games as Hall posted a 3-0 shutout in the finale.

The Blackhawks then met the fourth-place Detroit Red Wings, upset winners over the Maple Leafs in the first round. The series moved game-to-game between the cities with the home team winning the first five -- before the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings 5-1 in Game 6 at the Olympia, allowing Hall to gain revenge on his former team.

Pilote led the Hawks during playoffs with 15 points and Hull had 14. Hall posted a 2.02 goals-against average.

1938: Defeated Maple Leafs, 3-1

The 1938 Black Hawks (that's how they spelled it before the early '80s) may have been the worst Stanley Cup-winning team of all time. They finished in third place in the American Division with a 14-25-9 record, while scoring the fewest goals and gave up the second-highest number of goals. They had been worse the previous season, causing their owner, Major Frederic McLaughlin, to demand that the team include more Americans, including coach Bill Stewart and goalie Mike Karakas. Stewart, the grandfather of former NHL referee Paul Stewart, was the first American coach to win the Stanley Cup.

Paul Thompson led the Blackhawks with 22 goals and 44 points and Doc Romnes tied him with 22 assists. Johnny Gottselig's 32 points tied Romnes for second on the team. Defenseman Earl Siebert had 8 goals and 21 points.

The Blackhawks eliminated the Canadiens and New York Americans to advance to the Stanley Cup Final against the Maple Leafs, but Karakas suffered a broken toe and couldn't play in Game 1. Team officials found career minor-league goalie Alfie Moore in a Toronto bar and talked him into replacing Karakas. Moore won but NHL President Frank Calder ruled him ineligible thereafter. An even more obscure minor-league goaltender, Paul Goodman, replaced Moore in Game 2 and lost.

Karakas returned and won the next two games, allowing only two goals. Gottselig and Siebert led the Blackhawks with 5 goals in the playoffs and Thompson had 4.

1934: Defeated Red Wings, 3-1

The Blackhawks were led by goalie "Bonnie Prince Charlie" Gardiner, defenseman Lionel Conacher, and forwards Gottselig, Tom Cook and Harold "Mush" March, whose overtime goal in Game 4 gave the Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup.

Leading scorer Paul Thompson finished 10th in the NHL with 20 goals and 36 points during the regular season to help the Blackhawks finish second in the American Division, seven points behind Detroit. The Blackhawks downed the Canadiens and Montreal Maroons to advance to the Final.

Gardiner limited the Red Wings to two goals in the three Chicago victories. Gottselig and Thompson both scored four times to lead the Blackhawks in the Final, and Romnes had a pair of goals and seven assists. Romnes won the Game 4 double-overtime faceoff back to March for the series-winning goal.

Gardiner, who felt queasy before overtime in Game 4, died of a brain hemorrhage two months after the season ended. He is the only goalie to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup as a captain. Hockey Hall of Famer Clarence "Taffy" Abel retired after the playoffs.

Now, the defeats:

1992: Lost to Penguins, 4-0

On the eve of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, older Blackhawks fans are undoubtedly debating whether this defeat was worse than the one in 1971. Both have merit. The Blackhawks finished second in the Norris Division, led by Jeremy Roenick's 53 goals and 103 points. Defenseman Chris Chelios had 47 assists and 56 points while Ed Belfour was the regular-season's second-best goalie.

After losing Games 2 and 3 in the first round to the Blues, the Blackhawks won 11 games in a row, sweeping Detroit and Edmonton to advance to the Final against Mario Lemieux and the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks took 3-0 and 4-1 leads in Game 1 but Rick Tocchet, Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr scored to tie it up and Lemieux scored on a rebound of Larry Murphy's shot to give the Penguins a 5-4 victory.

The Penguins won Game 2 at the Igloo, 3-1. The Blackhawks were valiant in a 1-0 Game 3 loss but they couldn't get the puck past Tom Barrasso. Game 4 was a wild 11-goal affair with the Penguins winning 6-5 to retain the Cup.

1973: Lost to Canadiens, 4-2

This was the first season of the World Hockey Association, and Bobby Hull was the new league's top signee, moving to the Winnipeg Jets for $1 million. This was also the season that followed the dramatic 1972 Summit Series. Jim Pappin led the Blackhawks with 41 goals and 92 points. Dennis Hull and Pit Martin tied with 90 points and Mikita had 83. Esposito and Gary "Suitcase" Smith split goaltending duties but Esposito played 15 of the 16 playoff games.

The Blackhawks eliminated both the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers in five games to advance to the Final, where they lost to the Canadiens in six games. Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman won his first Stanley Cup, and Henri Richard won his 11th in a series that mixed tight defensive games with ones that looked like pond hockey.

The Canadiens won 8-3 and 4-1 at the Forum to take a 2-0 series lead. The Hawks won 7-4 at Chicago Stadium, but were shut out 4-0 in Game 4. Chicago spoiled the party for the sellout crowd at the Forum by winning 8-7 in Game 5, but the Canadiens won the Cup with a 6-4 victory in Game 6 at Chicago Stadium.  

1971: Lost to Canadiens, 4-3

There have been few defeats harder to take than this one. The Blackhawks moved to the West Division as the expansion Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks were placed in the East. The Blackhawks won the West by 20 points, swept the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round and defeated the Rangers in seven games to advance to the Final.

The Canadiens had downed the defending champion Boston Bruins in the first round behind the marvelous goaltending of rookie Ken Dryden and then beaten the Minnesota North Stars. The Blackhawks won the first two games in Chicago and Montreal won Games 3 and 4 at home. The Blackhawks returned home to win Game 5, 2-0, and the Canadiens edged them, 4-3, in Game 6 at the Forum.

With the Chicago Stadium crowd roaring them on, the Hawks took a 2-0 lead in Game 7 and could have gone up 3-0 when Dennis Hull's shot beat Dryden -- but it hit the crossbar. With Mikita in the penalty box, Jacques Lemaire fired a shot from center ice late in the second period that dipped under Tony Esposito, who was known for having trouble with long shots. Henri Richard scored two goals and Dryden held the Blackhawks scoreless from the rest of the game.

1965: Lost to Canadiens, 4-3

The Blackhawks rallied for third place after a slow start as Mikita won his second-straight Art Ross Trophy with 28 goals and 87 points. Hull had 25 goals in the first 26 games, then got hurt and finished with 39 goals and 71 points, winning the Hart Trophy. Pilote won his third-straight Norris Trophy. Denis DeJordy and Hall split time in net although Hall played in 13 of the Blackhawks' 14 playoff games.

The Blackhawks defeated the Red Wings in seven games to advance to the Final, in which all seven games were won by the home team for the first time since 1955 (it didn't happen again until 2003). Charlie Hodge and Gump Worsley were among the stars of the series, posting three home shutouts, including Worsley's second playoff shutout in Game 7 -- a 4-0 victory. Montreal captain Jean Beliveau won the first Conn Smythe Trophy with 8 goals and 16 points in 13 games.

1962: Lost to Maple Leafs, 4-2

Coming off their first Stanley Cup in 23 years, the Hawks stumbled out of the gate with a 1-5-5 record but played strongly thereafter to finish third during the regular season. They dropped the first two games of the semifinal series to the first-place Canadiens but then won four in a row to meet the Maple Leafs in the Final.

The Blackhawks again lost the first two games and won Games 3 and 4. The Maple Leafs held serve in Maple Leaf Gardens in Game 5 and then ended the Hawks' five-game home playoff winning streak with a 2-1 victory in Chicago to wrap up the series.

Hull led the Chicago with 50 goals and 84 points while Hay and Mikita tied with 52 assists.

1944: Lost to Canadiens, 4-0

The Canadiens were managed by Tommy Gorman, who had led the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup in 1934, and coached by Dick Irvin, who led the Blackhawks to their first Final in 1931. This was the season Irvin put together the "Punch Line" of Rocket Richard, Elmer Lach and Toe Blake. Goalie Bill Durnan was the best in the game and the Canadiens swept the Blackhawks for their first Stanley Cup since they beat the 'Hawks in 1931.

The Blackhawks retained Gottselig, March, Siebert and Karakas from their 1938 championship team and were led by Doug Bentley, Clint Smith and Bill Mosienko. Defenseman Virgil Johnson returned to the NHL after a six-year stretch in the top Minnesota hockey league. Karakas was brought back at midseason from a five-year exile in the minors.

The Blackhawks had finished only fourth during the regular season, but Bentley led the NHL with 38 goals, a club record, as was his 78 points. Smith won the Lady Byng Trophy after leading the NHL with 49 assists. Mosienko had 32 goals.

1931: Lost to Canadiens, 3-2

Led by Gardiner, defenseman Abel and forwards Gottselig, Cook and Frank Ingram, the Blackhawks finished second in the American Division and knocked off the Maple Leafs and Rangers to qualify for the Stanley Cup Final against the Canadiens, who were led by Aurel Joliat, Howie Morenz, Sylvio Mantha and goalie George Hainsworth.

The Blackhawks lost the opener but then won the next two games, both in multiple overtimes. Game 3 took 113:50 of extra time, the fourth-longest Stanley Cup Playoff game in history. But the Canadiens won the final two games at home, with Johnny Gagnon and Morenz scoring in the 2-0 shutout in Game 5.

Author: John McGourty | Staff Writer

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