May 272010

Let’s Try to Score at Least One Goal

Can you imagine playing with a team and no one on your team can score a goal for  eight games?  Can you imagine being their coach?  Or worse, their fans?

Well, the players, coach and fans of the pioneer edition of the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t have to imagine, they lived it.

One of the great original six teams went eight games straight without scoring a single goal.  Not even by accident. And I wish I could report that it was just a very bad streak but unfortunately for everyone (but their opposition, they were just that bad.

In fact, they no doubt have they honor of being the worst NHL team in history.  They showed us  it is truly possible to be a professional and still not know what you are doing

It was their third NHL season and the Blackhawks won a mere seven games in a 44-game schedule. And yes, during one eight game stretch they were shutout eight straight times.But that’s not all, there were plenty more shutouts to come.   Over the course of the season the Hawks were blanked 21 times or almost fifty per cent of the time. Opposing goalies couldn’t wait to face them.

During the 1928-29 season, the Blackhawks set records for futility that have lasted for over 70 years.  Their  “top scorers” certainly must have felt embarrassed becasue they managed only 33 goals for the entire season… combined.  Less than one per game.

Forward Vic Ripley was  the Hawks lead goal winner with a whopping 11 goals and 2 assists for 13 points for the entire season.   That would barely get him an invitation to a friendly game of shinny  after the bars are closed on a Tuesday night–even if he pitched in to pay for the rink fees!

The Leafs’ Darryl Sittler almost equalled Ripley’s entire yearly production in one game in 1976, when he scored a record ten points against Boston.

The Hawks second leading scorer was Johnny Gottselig who tallied five goals and three assists for eight points in a year.

Fortunately, in 1928-29, the Hawks had Charlie Gardiner in goal or their record would have been even more notorious. They might not have won a single game. Gardiner happened to be among the league’s best netminders, posting five shutouts and a 1.93 goals against average in 44 games.

Gardiner deserved a trophy for sportsmanlike conduct.  Apparently he never blamed his mates for their shortcomings and his restraint would have taken a super human dose of professionalism.

It’s easy to laugh but in the end, it’s those Blackhawk players with the last laugh.   At least they played professional NHL hockey while most of the rest of us only played it in our dreams.

I don’t know this book but a quick glance at Amazon popped up this short 52 page book about Goalie Captains and it includes Charlie Gardiner, Roberto Luongo, Roy Worters, Alec Connell, George Hainsworth, Bill Durnan: 
In Canada:NHL Goaltender Captains
In the States:Nhl Goaltender Captains

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