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01-24-2013, 07:19 PM
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1960s Blackhawks 1 of 3

The 1960s Blackhawks are an enigma - 4 players drafted in the top 42, yet only 1 Stanley Cup in a 6 team league. The following post isn't specifically about why they didn't win as much as should be expected, although it will touch on that. These posts are about the style that team played and how it should perhaps affect our perceptions of their star players.

I started to suspect that the Blackhawks might have been a very favorable environment for their stars to put up points when I was searching for information on their coaches and found that Mikita and Hull's complaints were part of the reason that Rudy Pilous was fired in 1963, not long after coaching the team to their only Cup in forever.

I'm going to focus on passages that address the style of the team, rather than on the personalities of the coaches:

No team in the NHL has more individual stars or more temperamental individualists than Chicago. Bobby Hull, year by year, is skating his way into history as one of the game's alltime superstars. Outspoken Stan Mikita, who likes to describe himself as a dirty player, is one of the game's top hustlers. Glenn Hall won the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goalie last year, and Captain Pierre Pilote won a similar award as the top defenseman. Five of the stars chosen by a panel of hockey writers and sportscasters to play in the season-opening all-star game were Black Hawks.

Molding that kind of talent and temperament into a smoothly working unit is not easy, but Reay does it with an easy touch. "He treats us," says Mikita, "like men."

One of the complaints that both Hull and Mikita had last year was that Pilous did not give them enough ice time, a deprivation that cut down their opportunity to score. One of Reay's first changes was to put these high shooters on a schedule that has them skating for 40 minutes of every game. Both of them are now serving not only in their regular lines but as penalty killers and key men. Chicago's players are known for being among the roughest and toughest in the league, but under Reay they seem suddenly to have become also the happiest.
The Rich Bounty Of Mutiny, Sports Illustrated, Dec 2, 1963

Note the implication that Chicago has a group of "temperamental individualists." But to me, the most interesting part is what it says about ice time. I think the 40 minutes per game is probably an exaggeration, but I don't doubt that after Reay took over prior to the 1963-1964 season that he gave Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita significantly more ice time than stars on deeper teams like Montreal or Toronto. We know for a fact that Beliveau, H Richard, and Backstrom were rarely on the ice at the same time, so they almost certainly were getting significantly less ice time than Hull and Mikita.

Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 01-24-2013 at 08:21 PM.
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