full steam ahead

A birthday today for Clem Loughlin, born on a Tuesday of this date 130 years ago in Carroll, Manitoba. Seen here on the right in December of 1934, he was 42, in his debut season as coach of the Chicago Black Hawks, who would go on to finish the year in second place in the nine-team NHL’s American Division. The Black Hawks were the defending Stanley Cup champions that year, but they fell in the first round of the ’35 playoffs to the Montreal Maroons, the eventual winners. Loughlin would coach the Hawks through three seasons in all before Chicago’s fickle owner Major Frederic McLaughlin replaced him in 1937 with a referee and baseball umpire, Bill Stewart.

That’s 34-year-old Taffy Abel percolating in the steambath, veteran defenceman, who spent the fall of ’34 withholding his services in a contract dispute over a $500 raise Major McLaughlin didn’t want to grant him. Abel blinked in December, returning to Chicago from his home in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to stretch and steam himself into playing shape. It didn’t work out, but by January of ’35, Abel had come to an agreement with Conn Smythe of the Toronto Maple Leafs for a mid-season tryout. Abel soon changed his mind, though, deciding to hang up his skates for good and return home to Michigan. He and Loughlin would both get into the hotel business, incidentally, Abel with Taffy’s Lodge in Sault Ste. Marie and Loughlin with the Viking Hotel, in Alberta’s Sutter country.


(Image: SDN-076819, Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection, Chicago History Museum)

One thought on “full steam ahead

  1. The author forgets that this was the depression and Taffy’s desired raise was $2500 and not $500 as stated here. He deserved that raise because Taffy had just helped the Chicago Blackhawks win a 1934 Stanley Cup. Major McLaughlin was a mean cheap SOB,

    At the time the photo was taken Taffy was 34 and not age 35 as stated in the story. I actually have the negatives from the gym where this photo and many others were taken.

    Stange the author did not mention that 11-16-2022 was the 96th anniversary of when Taffy Abel became the FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN IN THE NHL on November 16 1926 with the New York Rangers.

    He also BROKE THE NHL COLOR BARRIER that night in 1926. Willie O’Ree did not not break the NHL Color Barrier in 1958 as many have proclaimed! Like Jackie Robinson in 1947, only one person takes FIRST in breaking a Color Barrier … there’s no 2nd or 3rd or 4th place honors.

    Yes, Taffy Abel helped beat the Canadian team that night.

    His motto: “I’m in the business of Winning”

    PS: I stayed in Taffy’s Lodge and drank with him. Hiram Walker’s whiskey.

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