Chicago Blackhawks - Greatest Sports Franchises

Chicago Blackhawks - Greatest Sports Franchises

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
The Chicago Blackhawks were one of the Original Six teams in the National Hockey League. Though they struggled in their early seasons, Chicago became the only team in the Original Six era outside of Montreal, Toronto and Detroit to win a Stanley Cup. By 1961, the Blackhawks won three championships, and the team featured a bevy of talented players like Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Pierre Pilote. However, it wasn't until 2010 that the team was able to notch another Cup win, with help from such young players as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. In this video, continues our series on the Greatest Sports Franchises of All Time with a look at the Chicago Blackhawks.

The History of the Chicago Blackhawks

This team broke their Stanley Cup drought after 49 years. Welcome to, and today we’ll be continuing our series of the most successful sports franchises with a look at the Chicago Blackhawks.

Early Years

The Blackhawks entered the NHL in 1926 as one of the Original Six teams. Prior to the club’s establishment, coffee magnate Frederic McLaughlin and businessman James E. Norris had a bidding war for ownership of the franchise.

First All-American Lineup

McLaughlin became the first team owner, and he recruited such American hockey players Doc Romnes, Taffy Abel, Alex Levinsky, Mike Karakas and Cully Dahlstrom. In fact, the Hawks became the first team to boast an all-American lineup.

First Trip to the Cup Finals

After struggling through a few seasons, Chicago made it to their first Stanley Cup Final in 1931 led by Johnny Gottselig and Charlie Gardiner. Unfortunately, they lost to the Montreal Canadiens.

First Stanley Cups

The Blackhawks took home their first Cup in 1934 on the strength of Gardiner’s goaltending. By 1938, the team barely made the playoffs with a paltry 14-25 record, but they still managed to win the Cup. They remain the team with the worst regular-season record of any NHL champion.

Business Dealings

Team founder McLaughlin died in 1944, and longtime president Bill Tobin took over. However, he worked closely with James E. Norris who was owner of the rival Red Wings and was landlord of Chicago Stadium. As expected, every trade between Detroit and Chicago heavily favored the Wings.

James D. Norris

The team fizzled from 1945 to 1958. James D. Norris took over after his father died, and with help from Arthur Wirtz he brought on former Detroit coach Tommy Ivan as GM.

Hull, Mikita, Pilote, Hall, Lindsay, etc

The Blackhawks’ fortunes changed in the late 1950s when future Hall of Fame forwards Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, defenseman Pierre Pilote and goaltender Glenn Hall came to the team. They also grabbed veteran Ted Lindsay from Detroit.

Another Cup Win

The Hawks notched their third Cup win in 1961, and this was the only time during the Original Six era that a team other than Montreal, Toronto or Detroit won the championship.

Cup Drought Begins

With three Cup wins in 39 years, Chicago was beating the famous Curse of Muldoon. They continued their domination in the 1960s: Hull notched four 50-goal seasons, Mikita won back-to-back scoring titles and MVP honors, Pilote won three consecutive Norris Trophies, and Hall was stellar. Despite this, they failed to win another Cup.

Terrible Trade

1967 was the last year of six-team hockey. The Hawks broke the fabricated curse that season by finishing first.

Departure of Bobby Hull

Things worsened in 1972-73 when the World Hockey Association launched. That league’s Winnipeg Jets lured Bobby Hull with a million-dollar contract.

Improvements, But Still No Cup

Unremarkable decades followed. Things improved in 1992 when the team was led by forwards Jeremy Roenick and Steve Larmer, defenseman Chris Chelios and Eddie Belfour in nets: the Hawks reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 19 years. However, the powerful Pittsburgh Penguins and their star Mario Lemieux won 11 consecutive playoff games that year to defend their status as Stanley Cup champions.

New Young Players

After the 2004–05 lockout, new GM Dale Tallon set his sights on winning. In 2006, the Hawks drafted Jonathan Toews from the University of North Dakota third overall. The next year they grabbed Patrick Kane first overall from the Ontario Hockey League.

End of Cup Drought

Rocky Wirtz took over in 2007 after his father’s death. His new management style paid off in 2010 when the Hawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games for their first Stanley Cup since 1961. This ended the second-longest Cup drought in NHL history at 49 years, just behind the Rangers’ 54-year drought that broke in 1994.


Like many teams, the Hawks have some longstanding rituals. Home games at the United Center see loyal Blackhawk fans controversially cheer loudly during the U.S. anthem. Because of their great customs and successes, the Chicago Blackhawks are one of the greatest franchises in history.