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Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the original six NHL teams and were formed in September of 1926. A coffee millionaire by the name of Major Frederic McLaughlin invested $200,000 to purchase the Portland Rosebuds of the Western Hockey League. The WHL teams were unable to compete with the higher paid NHL and so Major McLaughlin picked up the team in a firesale and moved it to Chicago. The Major had served with the United States Army's 333rd Machine Gun battalion in World War I and belonged to the 85th Blackhawk division. He liked the name and also knew that a 'Chief Black Hawk' roamed the midwest, so the nickname seemed like a natural. The Black hawks lost out in the quarter-finals in their first year and finished out of playoff contention in their second season. In 1928 the Blackhawks moved from the Coliseum to the newly built 18,000 seat Chicago Statdium - the biggest NHL areana at that time. The Blackhawks followed the move to their new home with frequent playoff appearences, though they were unable to reach their ultimate goal of a Stanley Cup championship.

The Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley cup in 1933-34 by defeating the Detroit Redwings in four games. The Chicagoans soon became a fixture in the NHL playoffs and would win their second Cup in 1937-38, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs. After that second Cup victory the Blackhawks would to through an extended drought. The problems were compunded as the club would find itself in continued financial difficulties throughout the 1950s. In 1952 a group comprising of Jim Norris Sr. and Jr, along with Arthur Wirtz joined together to bring much needed financial stability. In 1954, Bill Wirtz joined in with his father and brother. The mid-1950s saw the continuation of mediocre teams in Chicago and later on in that decade, the Blackhawks started to build around a core of promising young players. The Blackhawks broke through in 1961 with the likes of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and goalie Glen Hall to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in a six game series to win their first Stanley Cup in over twenty years. They continued to look like champions in the 1962-63 season but fell off in the stretch run. Through the rest of the 1960s the Blackhawks played a competitive brand of hockey, but missed out on potential success in a trade that sent amongst others Ken Hodge and Phil Esposito to the Boston Bruins.

As the Blackhawks continued to chug along they soon faced one of the most turbulent times in franchise history when one of their superstars was up against the Wirtz family in a salary dispute. Bobby Hull could not agree on a salary and leaft the Blackhawks and the NHL for the newly organized World Hockey Association (WHA). Throughout the 1970s and into the eighties the Blackhawks continued to play competitive hockey, known for their physical style of play. They brought about some great players in the 1980s; including Denis Savard, Chris Chelios, Steve Larmer, Jeremy Roenick and Eddie Belfour. Up until 1986, the team's name had always been written as two words 'Black Hawks'. That year, owner Bill Wirtz officially changed the spelling to conform to Chicago's original charter of 1926. It wasn't until the 1991-92 season after almost twenty years, that the Blackhawks made it back to the Stanley Cup finals under the guidance of coach Mike Keenan. Despite superb play by Ed Belfour, Steve Larmer, Chris Chelios, and Jeremy Roenick, the Blackhawks were swept in four games by the Pittsburg Penguins. The loss also spelled the end for a four year run of coach Mike Keenan, to be replaced by Darryl Sutter.

The first year with Darryl Sutter as coach saw the Chicago Blackhawks surge to the top of the Norris division, only to lose in the semi-finals. The team continued with its up an down play, having moderate success in the playoffs. In 1995, the Blackhawks put to behind them one of the most historic aspects of their team. They moved out of the 65 year old Chicago Stadium, moving on to the brand new United Center. The years also saw changes in the front office, with Craig Hartsburg replacing Sutter as coach. The 1997-98 season proved to be a low point in their history, as the Hawks missed the playoffs for the first time since 1968. Harsburg was soon out and replaced by former Blackhawk player Dirk Graham. But the coaching situation in Chicago was far from settled as Graham was gone after 59 games with Lorne Molleken and Alpo Suhonen trying their hand at the job.

Stability was once again restored when Brian Sutter was hired as coach in 2000 and the team took up a more defensive and hard working style of play. After losing star players like Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte to free agency, the Blackhawks under the guidance of general manager Mike Smith continued to build around a young team. Smith's regin in Chicago did not last through the 2003-04 season as he was replaced by Bob Pulford. The young team struggled through the season finishing near the bottom of the NHL standing with only 59 points and creating an apathetic environment in Chicago. The post lockout era began in Chicago with the big signing of Stanely Cup champion goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. He though would be a disappointment through out the year, being plagued with injuries and playing nowhere close to his capabilities. They finished out of the playoffs and in the off season, GM Dale Tallon made another questionable move acquiring winger Martin Havlat in a three way trade that included the Blackhawks, Sharks and Senators and then went on to sign Havlat to a huge 3 year, $18 million contract.

Chicago Blackhawks Overview:
Team name: Chicago Blackhawks
Founded: 1926
Arena: United Center
Stanley Cups won: 3 (1934, 1938, 1961)

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