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Etched in History

Etched in History

Black Hawks ended 22-season drought with Cup win in 1960-61

Hall-led Chicago team featured in series about champions being removed from trophy

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / NHL.com Columnist

Every 13 years when the bottom band of the Stanley Cup is filled with names of champions, the top band is removed and retired to be displayed in the vault of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The current top band, featuring NHL championship teams from 1953-54 to 1964-65, is coming off, and four bands below it are sliding up one place to make room for a fresh fifth band at the bottom that will begin with the 2017-18 Washington Capitals. Each day through Oct. 2, NHL.com will look at one of the 12 Cup-winning teams leaving hockey's most coveted trophy.

 

1960-61 CHICAGO BLACK HAWKS

Regular-season record: 29-24-17 (75 points), third in NHL
Coach: Rudy Pilous
Captain: Ed Litzenberger
Names on the Cup: 30
Players on the Cup: 23
Future Hall of Fame players on the Cup: Glenn Hall, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Pierre Pilote

 

Stanley Cup engraving anomalies: Silversmith Carl Petersen decided for the first time to put a team's nickname in quotation marks, hence CHICAGO "BLACK HAWKS" 1960-61. The name was two words from the team's 1926 birth until being changed to Blackhawks in 1986. The stamp of PETERSEN HANDMADE STERLING appears in the lower right corner for the first of two times on the band; the other is with the 1963-64 Toronto Maple Leafs.

A name on the Cup: The Montreal Canadiens traded defenseman Dollard St. Laurent to the Black Hawks on June 3, 1958. The four-time Stanley Cup winner in Montreal drove a wedge into Chicago cliques, brought his new team together in the dressing room and played a huge role in the Black Hawks' stunning championship. When he was traded to Quebec of the American Hockey League for cash Sept. 6, 1962, his name going on the Stanley Cup for the fifth and final time, St. Laurent joked to Chicago forward Bobby Hull, "Now that you've got rid of me, you'll never win another one!" Everyone laughed about the "Dolly Curse," at least for a while -- it took the Black Hawks until 2010 to go all the way again, with St. Laurent cheering them on that year in the Final against the Philadelphia Flyers.

 

How they made history

The Black Hawks did not draw much attention during their pedestrian regular season, with all eyes seemingly on the Montreal Canadiens (first place) and Toronto Maple Leafs (second) slugging it out.

But the Stanley Cup Playoffs are a different animal, and the Black Hawks stunned the Canadiens in six games in the NHL Semifinals, ending Montreal's run of five consecutive Stanley Cup titles and advancing to face the Detroit Red Wings in the first Final with two American teams since 1950 (Detroit's seven-game victory against the New York Rangers).

Chicago won its third championship and first since 1938. Black Hawks players each pocketed a $1,750 bonus, $1,000 per man more than what the Red Wings earned.

NHL President Clarence Campbell presents miniature Stanley Cup trophies to members of the Black Hawks prior to the 1961-62 season. From left: Ron Murphy, Kenny Wharram, Bobby Hull, Campbell, Pierre Pilote, Jack Evans and Glenn Hall.

 

It was a bittersweet victory for Chicago forward Ed Litzenberger, who had recovered to play following a January car accident that killed his wife and left him with cracked ribs, bruises of the liver and a concussion.

The Black Hawks' championship ended the six-team NHL's longest title drought at 22 seasons and marked the glorious cap of a rebuild by general manager Tommy Ivan, hired in 1954 from Detroit. With the 1955 purchase of Buffalo of the AHL, the Black Hawks had an instant farm club to develop talent. Defensemen Pierre Pilote and Moose Vasko, and forwards Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Kenny Wharram, graduated to the NHL from Buffalo and/or St. Catharines of the major junior Ontario Hockey Association.

Acrobatic Glenn Hall pioneered the butterfly style of goaltending, demonstrated at right in a 1960s NHL All-Star Game publicity photo. His NHL record of 502 consecutive games played is unlikely to be broken.

 

Goaltender Glenn Hall, who had been traded to Chicago from Detroit on July 23, 1957, was deep into his NHL-record streak of 502 consecutive complete games played, which ended Nov. 7, 1962. The Stanley Cup was the crowning achievement for a pioneer who revolutionized goaltending with the butterfly style that would be adopted by generations to come.

Hall, more than any other player, helped the Black Hawks win the Cup, getting shutouts in Games 5 and 6 of the Semifinals against Montreal. After the Black Hawks became champions with a 5-1 victory against the Red Wings in Game 6 of the Final, he sat in the victors' dressing room, almost too exhausted to celebrate.

Stan Mikita, a beloved, productive center who played his entire career with Chicago, pulls around goalie Glenn Hall with defenseman Al Arbour in the background.

 

"Only one of us had won a Cup before," Hall said of forward Ab McDonald, who won his third and final title after coming over from Montreal in a nine-player trade June 7, 1960. "The rest of us really didn't know how to celebrate. So we looked at Ab and he was just sitting there smiling, happy to be a part of it. … It's been a long, rough season and I'm worn out."

Hull, who turned 22 that season, praised Hall's brilliance against the seemingly unbeatable Canadiens.

"Montreal never got shut out, going something like [88] straight games scoring at least a goal," Hull told The Hockey News of the streak that began March 8, 1960, and ended in Game 5. "Well, Glenn shuts them out 3-0 in Montreal, then wins the series in Chicago with another 3-0 win. That tells you all you need to know."

The Black Hawks toasted their championship with a few beers; owner James Norris had not ordered champagne for the Detroit Olympia that night, lest he be a jinx. A snowstorm in Chicago stranded the winners overnight, but they chartered home the next morning to a raucous celebration with a police and fire department escort from the airport to City Hall.

A group of Black Hawks players' wives has a close look at the Stanley Cup.

 

"Our victory party has to be one of the longest on record," Mikita wrote in "I Play to Win: My Own Story," his 1969 autobiography. "Somebody grabbed (president Arthur) Wirtz's hat and we started drinking champagne out of it. … I'm not much of a champagne drinker, preferring beer, but I would have enjoyed a few more victory parties like that one."

Mayor Richard Daley called the Black Hawks "the greatest hockey team ever put together any place in this world."

No matter the immodesty of that claim, Chicago had earned the right to celebrate after 23 long years. Who knew that it would take the Black Hawks 49 years to win the Cup again?

"I was very young and didn't really appreciate what we'd done," said Hull, who said he never drank from the Stanley Cup that night. "I thought that was just going to be one of many Stanley Cups we were going to win."

The battered faces of victory. From left, Black Hawks players Bill Hay, Eric Nesterenko and Bobby Hull.

 

[Read all Etched in History stories: 1953-54 Red Wings | 1954-55 Red Wings | 1955-56 Canadiens |

1956-57 Canadiens | 1957-58 Canadiens | 1958-59 Canadiens | 1959-60 Canadiens |

 1961-62 Maple Leafs | 1962-63 Maple Leafs | 1963-64 Maple Leafs | 1964-65 Canadiens]

 

Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Won Semifinal 4-2 vs. Montreal Canadiens

Won Stanley Cup Final 4-2 vs. Detroit Red Wings

Game 1: April 6 at Chicago: Black Hawks 3, Red Wings 2
Game 2: April 8 at Detroit: Red Wings 3, Black Hawks 1
Game 3: April 10 at Chicago: Black Hawks 3, Red Wings 1
Game 4: April 12 at Detroit: Red Wings 2, Black Hawks 1
Game 5: April 14 at Chicago: Black Hawks 6, Red Wings 3
Game 6: April 16 at Detroit: Black Hawks 5, Red Wings 1

Stanley Cup-winning goal: Ab McDonald, Game 6, 18:49 of the second period

Black Hawks' leading scorer in Final: Pierre Pilote (eight points; two goals, six assists)

Winning goalie: Glenn Hall (4-2, 359 minutes played, 11 goals against, 1.84 goals-against average)

 

Regular-season trophy winners

None

Pierre Pilote was named Black Hawks captain in 1961-62; the NHL's official scoresheet from Game 6 of the Final.

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