Baz O’Meara from the Montreal Star was on location at the Chicago Stadium on that Tuesday night in late March of 1961 when the Montreal Canadiens barged in on the Chicago Black Hawks for the fourth game of their Stanley Cup semi-final. “The crowd tossed a lot of paper cups on the ice,” he wrote, “and they littered the surface with paper darts and pieces of torn programs. They love rough hockey and they reveled in the fight featuring Bonin and Vasko, but there were no fights in the stand as last year when it took four or five policemen and ushers to quell tow quarrelsome customers.”
That’s the scene here, viewed from on high: somewhere beneath that knot of irked players is the first-period fracas between Montreal winger Marcel Bonin and Chicago defenceman Moose Vasko. Identifiable Canadiens are (#14) Claude Provost and (#3) J.C. Tremblay and for Chicago (#10) Ron Murphy and, viewing from afar, goaltender (#1) Glenn Hall. Jacques Plante is another distant spectator.
After much punching, grappling, and (as the Star’s Red Fisher wrote) “some expert shoving,” referee Eddie Powers sanctioned Bonin with a five-minute fighting major and two 10-minute misconducts. Vasko got five for his fighting and just a single misconduct. Bonin’s additional misconduct was for grabbing Powers’ shirt. Each of the misconducts came with a $25 fine.
Montreal won the night, going on to a 5-2 win that tied the series at two games apiece. It was Chicago, though, who won the next two games to take the semi-final, and the Black Hawks would continue on to beat the Detroit Red Wings to take the Stanley Cup that year.
(Image: © Chicago Sun-Times Media, ST-17500275-E1, Chicago Sun-Times collection, Chicago History Museum)
cooking with hockey players: roast beast is a feast
hockey players at home: we’re guys from saskatoon, not what you’d call super mod
When last we saw them, it was 1970 and Keith Magnuson and Cliff Koroll were just a couple of Black Hawk bachelors living the high life in Schiller Park, northwest of downtown Chicago, out by the airport at O’Hare. They seem to have migrated north after that: a 1971 dispatch has our heroes situated in “the upper-class Chicago suburb of Park Ridge.”
“A long hike,” Magnuson confided to a reporter at the time, “but it’s only three blocks from where all the airline stewardesses live.”
Cheaper, too. Whereas Koroll and Magnuson had been shelling out $375 a month in the first place, and the rent now was $325, Magnuson explained that they were paying just $290, because the owner was a hockey fan.
Various descriptions of the players’ home décor survive. A 1970 description of their set-up:
In the Koroll-Magnuson living room there’s a black-and-white houndstooth couch; three contour chairs and a coffee table set in a sociable semi-circle in the bulge of a bay window; an off-white wall-to-wall carpet and a stereo unit mounted on flat, black walls. The halls are very white, and in Keith’s bedroom — among the “now” hints of flared, belled pants, blazer suits, buckle shoes and Wellington boots, as a traditional Swedish instinct for personal tidiness — is a large print of a leopard hanging above a leopard-patterned bedspread. (In Cliff Koroll’s room, it’s all zebra, more hi-fi and the apartment’s large TV set.)
It’s hard to tell whether this is the old place or the new. Could be, too, that they stayed put, and the newspapers reporting their locations were confused, so all these historical descriptions are of the same apartment at different stages of its evolution. Maybe? Possibly so.
Either way, designer Irv Caplan seems to have been responsible for the touches of tragical hipness and safari wildlife. He’d done Bobby Hull’s house in Glen Ellyn previously. He quoted Koroll and Magnuson a cut-rate price of $5,000 to re-imagine their place, and they’d agreed. “But when we saw all the stuff coming in,” Magnuson later recounted, “we really flipped. We’re guys from Saskatoon. We’re not what you’d call super mod.”
A 1971 feature described “a living room filled with plastic see-through chairs and three bare white tree branches stuck in huge white flowerpots, a dining room papered in black-and-white stripes like a referee’s shirt, and a burnt orange bedroom with a fake leopard bedspread. There were also one black-and-white and three colour TV sets and three stereo sets in the apartment.”
From a 1973 account we get the scoop that the scene we’re seeing in the top photo involves “Naughahyde masquerading as zebra, plastic ibex horns, and contrasts in black and white with red carpeting.”
Magnuson’s bedroom featured the mounted bill of a 150-pound marlin he’d caught while fishing off Jamaica, along with a blow-up of a grinning Magnuson that had featured on a 1970 cover of Sports Illustrated. Also on display, as noted by a visiting reporter, Paul King:
On a dresser sat a gold-plated hockey puck that Bobby Hull gave Magnuson when he scored his first NHL goal, and on top of it Hull had added a gold-plated tooth — the first that Keith had knocked out of another NHL player’s head: Earl Heiskala, Nov. 11, 1970.
I guess I’m not surprised to learn that Magnuson had a bar in his bedroom, which is to say (as King does) “a bar-cum-bookshelf.” This was home to several trophies and “an impressive five rows of hardcover books (from Nabokov to Joseph Heller).”
Those all belonged to Koroll, Magnuson confessed. “I only read when I have to know something,” he said. King pursued this:
He has read two of Dale Carnegie’s books, Lloyd Percival’s Hockey Handbook (“It was my bible as a kid”) and [Jim Bouton’s] Ball Four. He remembers reading Steinbeck’s The Pearl once, and a few other novels. But he forgets what they were.
hockey players at home: an ultramod pad on the outskirts of the city
Keith Magnuson made his debut as an NHL defenceman in 1969 for a Chicago Black Hawks team that lined up Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, Pat Stapleton, Pit Martin, and Tony Esposito.
On the domestic side, the 22-year-old Magnuson found an apartment with fellow rookies Jim Wiste (a left winger) and Cliff Koroll (he played the right), both 23. All of them were Saskatchewan-born — Magnuson was from Saskatoon, Koroll from Canora, and Wiste from Moose Jaw — and they’d all played together, too, at the University of Denver.
Domiciling in the NHL, they found a place in Schiller Park, 24 kilometres from downtown Chicago, in what a visiting Saskatoon reporter classified as “a development for single people.”
On the ice, Wiste got into 26 games and notched eight assists. Koroll collected 18 goals and 37 points, while Magnuson had 24 assists (no goals) to go along with his NHL-leading 213 penalty minutes.
Vancouver claimed Wiste in the NHL’s expansion the following summer, so he moved out: as the new season rolled around, Chicago reporters noted that the apartment previously known as Bachelors III was now Bachelors II.
Or — sorry, apartment doesn’t do the place justice. The proper terminology is contained in a Hawks’ profile that Robert H. Bradford wrote for The Chicago Tribune in December of 1970: Magnuson, Wiste, and Koroll were roosting in an “ultramod pad on the outskirts of the city.”
Koroll described the set-up: “We’re six minutes from the airport and there is limousine service right at our door. We have three bedrooms downstairs and three upstairs. We also have a den and a coloured television. It costs us $375 per month.”
The question is, in years ensuing, did Magnuson and Koroll make a move or did they just redecorate? Stay tuned: more to come on this.
The Montreal Canadiens were never going to trade their superstar Howie Morenz … until, this week in 1934, they did just that, sending their 32-year-old centreman, along with goaltender Lorne Chabot and defenceman Marty Burke, to the Chicago Black Hawks in exchange for winger Leroy Goldsworthy and defencemen Lionel Conacher and Roger Jenkins.
Morenz’s former Montreal teammates bade him farewell the following week with a banquet at Café Martin, Leo Dandurand’s restaurant at 2175 rue de la Montagne. Dandurand himself played toastmaster that evening; Tommy Gorman, Aurèle Joliat, and Montreal mayor Camilien Houde all addressed the gathering of 200 guests.
Four days later, Morenz was in Chicago to sign a contract with the Black Hawks, before joining his new teammates in Champaign, Illinois, for the team’s pre-season training camp. That may be where this October photograph was taken; that Chicago coach Clem Loughlin standing in as umpire here, with winger Johnny Gottselig playing the catcher’s part. On the ice, Loughlin initially tried Morenz in a couple of combinations, skating him between Mush March and Norman Locking to start camp, then lining him up with Gottselig and Lolo Couture. It was with the latter duo that Morenz made his Chicago debut when the Black Hawks opened their season on November 8, hitting the road to beat the St. Louis Eagles 3-1. That night, Morenz assisted on the goal Gottselig put past Bill Beveridge to open the scoring.
(Image: SDN-076744, Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection, Chicago History Museum)
strolling lord stanley
The clock was showing 9.45 p.m. on this night, 84 years ago, when veteran Chicago centreman Carl Voss took a second-period pass from Johnny Gottselig and batted the puck past Toronto goaltender Turk Broda. Though there remained half a game still to play, Voss’ goal would prove the winner as the Black Hawks went on to a 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs on that April night in 1938 to claim the team’s second Stanley Cup with a 3-1 series win.
The throng at Chicago Stadium was 17,204 strong that night. But for all the happy hullabaloo that enveloped the ice, Chicago didn’t actually take possession of the storied Cup that night: as we’ve told it here before, the silverware was languishing back in Toronto, and only arrived in Illinois two days after Carl Voss sealed the deal for the Black Hawks.
The Black Hawks did get in a parade, of sorts, midday on the Wednesday, April 13. Back in 1934, Hawks’ defenceman Roger Jenkins had promised goaltender Charlie Gardiner that if Chicago won the Cup that year, he’d trundle Gardiner around the city’s downtown Loop in a wheelbarrow. He was — as seen below — as good as his word.
As he was, again, in 1938, treating goaltender Mike Karakas to a ride, this time. Reports from this follow-up foray vary: did they go for five blocks or just the one? It was one o’clock in the busy afternoon, and the hockey players, it was widely reported, tied up traffic on State Street for several minutes.
The Black Hawks got to visit with the Stanley Cup again in the fall of 1938, October, just before the team departed Chicago for a training camp at the University of Illinois at Champaign. That’s when the photograph that tops this post was taken: after the team lunched, the players went walkabout, trophy and (for some) luggage in hand.
Coach Bill Stewart wasn’t there: he was back home in Dorchester, Massachusetts, recovering from a bout of appendicitis, and would join the team later. The new season brought new faces to Chicago’s line-up, and some of them are seen here on the stroll, too: Baldy Northcott, Joffre Desilets, Ab DeMarco, and Russ Blinco hadn’t been with the Black Hawks when the won the Cup the previous April.
Carl Voss and Roger Jenkins are, notably, on hand. Also of interest is the storefront the players are passing here: McLaughlin’s Manor House Coffee was, of course, the business concern of Black Hawks’ founder Major Frederic McLaughlin.
chicago proud: dead fish from the gallery
“Oh, boy, I am glad I haven’t got a weak heart,” Major Frederic McLaughlin is supposed to have cried at the first hockey game he attended in person, a mere month before the Chicago Black Hawks, the team he launched into the NHL as owner and martinet-in-chief, made their debut in the winter of 1926. Scion of a coffee baron, McLaughlin was a crack polo player who was the second most famous member of his own (second) marriage, which was to Irene Castle, the ballroom dancer and movie star who was often revered in the early decades of the 20th century as America’s best-dressed woman. The Black Hawks won a pair of Stanley Cup championships during McLaughlin’s tempestuous reign, which ended on a Sunday of this date in 1944, when he died at the age of 67. You can read more about him and his eccentric ways here, if you’re interested.
In February of 1935, when Black Hawks goaltender Lorne Chabot became the first hockey player to adorn the cover of Time magazine, the owner and his wife featured in the article accompanying inside.
A year after Chicago’s first Cup win, Time reported, fans in the Windy City were restive. “Chicago hockey crowds, impatient because the team has done most of its winning away from its home arena, have lately taken to tossing dead fish down from the gallery. Gestures of this sort and the fact that attendance is not so far ahead of last year’s as it should be in view of the team’s prowess, irritate its owner, Chicago’s Major Frederic McLaughlin, who attends Black Hawks’ games with his famed wife, Irene Castle McLaughlin.”
Time noted that on Lorne Chabot — “disdainful, lazy, and alert” — the flying fish had no effect. Chabot was only bothered by pucks passing him by, the magazine reported, though he could get very bothered indeed. “Last fortnight he clubbed a goal judge for daring to assert that his opponents had contrived to score a goal. He was amused by news that the goal judge was suing him for $10,000.”
tale of the tape
Images of Tony Esposito’s hands as he readies them for a night’s work in February of 1981 at Chicago’s Stadium. By the time Esposito turned 38 on this date in April of that year, the Blackhawks were already into their off-season, having been eliminated from the playoffs by the Calgary Flames in a three-game first-round sweep.
what a shame to see a great morale-building game like hockey go into the discard
With the NHL preparing for the mid-January launch of a second COVID-era season, I’ve been reporting for The New York Times on how hockey fared in some past times of crisis and contingency. That’s on the page in today’s paper, as well as online over this way.
This part didn’t make it into the Times piece, but as I was charting back through the challenges the NHL faced during the Second World War, I was reminded of another echo of former times that 2020’s fraught hockey season awakened.
Back in far-off February of last year, the NHL got a first inkling of the disruptions that were to follow when two major suppliers of hockey sticks, Bauer and CCM, shut down manufacturing operations in China as the coronavirus continued its insidious spread. Equipment managers fretted, along with some prominent players. None of them, of course, imagined at the time that the entire league would be summarily shuttered — along with everything else — just a month later.
The Second World War tested hockey’s supply chains, too. It was a lack of manpower at North American sawmills and lumberyards that raised the spectre of a scarcity of sticks in 1946, not a global pandemic. “We’re still making a few,” a Spalding spokesman warned early that year, “but we have no reserve stocks of lumber on hand. When these are finished, there won’t be any more this year.”
CCM faced a similar predicament. Disaster seems to have been averted — hockey carried on — but several minor leagues did wonder whether they’d be able to play, and those with sticks in hand were advised to wield them with caution, to preserve what they had.
Wartime shook hockey to its core — specifically, the small, black one at the centre of every game. In 1941, with war in the Pacific limiting the supply of raw rubber even as military demand was increasing, news of North American shortages began to spread.
In December of the year, just a few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Canada’s minister of Munitions and Supply, C.D. Howe, announced a ban on the sale of all rubber tires save those new vehicles. Two months later, one of Howe’s deputies, Alan Williamson, warned that Canadians didn’t understand just how dire the rubber situation was: it was “the gravest problem confronting” Canada and the Allies, he told the Canadian Hardware Convention and Exposition that February.
In another address, he upped the ante even higher, saying that he did not consider it “an exaggeration to say that anyone who uses rubber for any unnecessary purpose is committing an act of treason.”
For effect, Williamson enumerated some of the things for which rubber was no long being made available: “rubber soles, rubber heels, rubber bands, rubber bathing suits, garters, suspenders, foundation garments, tennis balls, flooring, rubber mats, shower curtains, tires for passenger cars, bathing caps.”
In January, the Canadian Press quoted Williamson as saying that while his department did not propose “to tell manufacturers of hockey pucks, tennis balls, and golf balls to stop making them, it would be ‘nothing short of a miracle’ if they were to get the rubber to do so in 1942.”
“New Composition Expected For Hockey Pucks,” an Ottawa Journal headline announced that winter, without offering any specifics: “the future of this staple article in Canada’s winter sports calendar is still obscure” was as far as the accompanying article was willing to go.
NHL teams were already doing their best to maintain their strategic puck reserves. The Chicago Black Hawks posted signs at the Stadium asking fans to return any puck that found a way into the crowd because, well, the very future of the league depended on it.
“This is a great national emergency,” a team spokesman reasoned. “Everything must be saved. Rubber is in great demand and we must conserve it. Pucks are made of rubber and we must conserve them, too. It would be a great shame to see a great sport and morale-building game like hockey go into the discard because of a shortage of pucks. That’s why we call upon our fans to throw back our pucks in the interest of sport and conservation of valuable defense material.”
Earnest as it was, this appeal didn’t convince everyone. When the Black Hawks hosted the Boston Bruins on Sunday, December 14, 1941, the only puck to leave the rink during the teams’ 3-3 tie was not returned, proving (as Edward Burns wrote in the Tribune) “a souvenir bug will cling to almost anything.”
Efforts were made at other rinks, too. Madison Square Garden was still home in 1941-42 to two NHL teams, the Rangers and the Brooklyn Americans. Games there began with advisories over the public address system emphasizing that that repatriating pucks that strayed was the “patriotic” thing to do.
Those who tossed them back, it was duly noted, were cheered lustily. Louis Schneider, a syndicated financial columnist, reported on the fate of the bold soul who tried to hang on to a puck in New York. “The hockey fan that grabs one and refuses to throw it back is all but mobbed by soldiers and sailors in addition to being booed by the crowd.”
working for the honour, on and off the ice
Born in Winnipeg on a Wednesday of this date in 1927, Jim Thomson was starting his 12thseason working the Toronto Maple Leafs blueline when he was named captain of the team in the fall of 1956. At 30, he was a four-time Stanley Cup-winner by then, and twice he’d been named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team. Coach Howie Meeker recommended his promotion to the captaincy ahead of the new season, succeeding Sid Smith. “This being a young team,” Meeker wrote to Leafs’ supremo Conn Smythe, “I think more than ever we should have a captain who can set an example on and off the ice for the kids.” Thomson had proved himself to be the Leafs’ best defenceman at training camp, the coach continued. And: “He is the only one of the possible captain candidates working for the honour on and off the ice.”
And so it was that Thomson, pictured here with his wife, June, proudly showing off his C’d sweater, took up as the Leafs’ on-ice leader. The season, unfortunately, didn’t go so well: the team stumbled from the start, and ended up out of the playoffs. By time it was all over, Smythe had accepted responsibility for what he called “a year of failure” — while summarily axing Meeker and long-serving GM Hap Day. As for Thomson, he signed on during the season as secretary for and Leafs’ representative to Ted Lindsay’s fledgling players’ association. When the players went public in February of 1957, Thomson soon found out what his boss thought of the whole business. Benched and stripped of his captaincy, Thomson was soon sold into exile, joining Lindsay and others on the NHL’s island of Broken Toys, a.k.a. the Chicago Black Hawks. “I find it very difficult to imagine,” Smythe railed, “that the captain of my club should find time during the hockey season to influence young hockey players to join an association that has no specific plans to benefit or improve hockey.”
Thomson played a year for the Black Hawks for he hung up his skates in 1958. He died in 1991 at the age of 64.