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Throwback Thursdays – A Pint and a Cup

I was tempted to say good evening, but by the time you read this who knows what time it will be in whatever part of the world you happen to be in. So in lieu of good evening, let me just say welcome and enjoy!

Anyways, after taking a look back at the inaugural St. Louis Blues season the day after their Stanley Cup Championship. This week I’m going to take you through the story of the 1937-38 Chicago Black Hawks (they didn’t become the Blackhawks until the 80s) and how they picked up a goalie from a bar and won a Stanley Cup – but didn’t get the Stanley Cup when they won.

If this is how you get through the day, the 1938 Black Hawks would love to talk to you about an opportunity!

So to lay out the situation for you, the Black Hawks of the 1930s weren’t very good. During the 1937-38 season in question – a season that saw that introduction of the icing rule – they finished with a terrible 14-25-9 record and their Cup odds were a league-low 100-1 against. They finished third in the American division, in a time where there were two divisions (Canadian and American) and each division had four teams. To put it into better perspective, they finished the regular season as the third worst team in the league.

Despite the dismal record, the NHL had three of the four teams in each division make the playoffs, allowing the Black Hawks the chance to continue their season against a much-favoured Montreal Canadiens team.

The Habs would take game one of the best-of-three 6-4 on the back of a Toe Blake hat trick and seemed to be sending the Black Hawks home early, where many felt they deserved to be. However the Hawks scored four times in a shutout victory by veteran goalie Mike Karakas in game two, and won the deciding game three in overtime on a goal by Paul Thompson that had hit him on the way in on a shot by Lou Trudel.

The New York Americans came next for the Black Hawks. The Hawks again got off to a slow start in the first game, losing 3-1 to the higher-ranked Americans. It seemed likely the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Americans were set to face off for the Stanley Cup.

Leafs goalie Turk Broda and then-Americans goalie Alfie Moore take a photo together before the 1937-38 season. Moore would spend most of the season in the AHL before his brief call-up for the Cup Finals.

The Hawks again pulled out a dramatic series comeback, winning a 1-0 double overtime game in game two, before thrilling the crowd in the Finals-clincher with 3-2 win over the Amerks.

Chicago was headed to the Cup finals against the Leafs despite a regular season losing record.

Of course the Leafs were favoured going into the series, with legendary players such as league-leading scorer Gordie Drillon, Syl Apps, captain Charlie Conacher, Busher Jackson, Red Horner, and the aforementioned Broda.

The odds were made that much worse for the Hawks when their hero goalie, Karakas, broke his toe in the semis and was not fit to play at the beginning of the Finals.

This is were the photo above and headline come into play. On the day of the first game, with Conn Smythe of the Leafs refusing the Hawks request to use the New York Rangers goalie, the Leafs stumbled upon Amerks farmhand Alfie Moore in a pub in Toronto. It being only hours before the game and Moore being several drinks in, the Hawks quickly signed him to a short contract and had him appear in game one for them.

Moore in one of his only known photographs of game with the Black Hawks.

The game didn’t start so well for Moore and the Hawks, with Moore surrendering the first shot on goal. Having been in a bar and a few drinks deep just hours earlier, many would have been right to think the rest of the game and series would have went like this:


However, Moore settled down after the first shot, and the Hawks would go on to score three straight goals for a 3-1 win in the first game.

The Hawks tried another minor-leaguer with Paul Goodman in game two, but he couldn’t live up to Moore’s drunken heroics in game one and the Hawks lost 5-1.

Sensing the need for their star regular season goalie to return, Chicago’s trainer made a special boot to protect Karaka’s  broken toe. This allowed him to come back for incredible game three and four wins, 2-1 and 4-1 one, respectively. With those wins, the Black Hawks won their second ever Stanley Cup, and one of (if not the only) Cup wins to feature a drunken, minor-league goalie singed hours before the first game providing an incredible win.

In a weird bit of hockey trivia, NHL President Frank Calder though the Leafs were so ridiculously favoured to win the Cup that he actually had it shipped to Toronto during the Finals. This meant when the Hawks won the Cup in Chicago, they couldn’t celebrate with the Cup at home.

The Chicago Black Hawks celebrate their Stanley Cup win, minus the Stanley Cup.
Steve Auld

Steve Auld

My name is Steve and I am from the very noble Auld clan of Niagara, where we respect our elders and follow the golden rules: elbows up, and keep your stick on the ice. When not tearing up beer league or ball hockey, I enjoy the occasional downtime I have with my girlfriend and son. Love me some music too, all kinds. If you feel I did a good job or you want to argue, feel free to leave a comment!
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