When you talk about great Chicago Blackhawks goalies the list always starts with Tony Esposito and Glenn Hall with Ed Belfour and now Corey Crawford thrown in, but the first great Blackhawks goalie wasn’t any of those legends.
Charlie Gardiner joined the Chicago Blackhawks in 1927 at the age of 23, and he was greeted by the very infant NHL not very friendly like. In his rookie year he went 6-32 and the next season he improved a touch to 7-29. If he played in this era of the NHL that would have sealed the deal on his career.
The Chicago Black Hawks (as it was spelled then) at that time were a new franchise, and Gardiner was their workhorse and as the Blackhawks got more and more talent on the ice, Gardiner started winning a lot more games.
In 1932, Gardiner went 18-19-11 and won the Vezina trophy with a 1.85 Goals Against Average, and they said advanced stats was a recent thing.
Gardiner would win his second Vezina trophy in 1934 with a 20-17-11 record with an even more impressive GAA of 1.63.
Not only was Gardiner the star of the team, but he also was the Captain of the franchise, and his leadership is really the reason why the Chicago Blackhawks were able to win their first Stanley Cup in 1934.
The Hawks led the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 and in before Game #4 he told the team if they got him one goal that he would make sure they would win the series.
Well it took double overtime, but Mush March scored the game winner, and Gardiner held up his end of the bargain by shutting out the Red Wings for the franchises first ever Stanley Cup!
Who knows what might have happened if Gardiner hadn’t become sick during the Cup Final. 2 months after the playoffs ended Gardiner had to have emergency brain surgery but passed away a few days later.
Gardiner played in over 300 games, and he really was the first big star of the Chicago Blackhawks, and he delivered a Cup to the City. Sadly, his story ended too soon.
Only 42 more days until the Chicago Blackhawks lace them up for the 2017-2018 season!