Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Chicago Black Hawks (NHL, 1976-77)

1976-77 Regular Season
Black Hawks vs. Colorado Rockies
     Despite the picture on the front cover, this is actually a Chicago Black Hawks program from 1976-77. Many teams used Goal Magazine as the team's official program during this time. Tommy Ivan continued his storied career as Hawks GM, dating back to 1954 after coaching in Detroit. The Hawks were part of the Smythe Division in the Campbell Conference, along with the Colorado Rockies, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Minnesota North Stars. Not the strangest division setup in the league that year, but still rather spread out. By the way, "Black Hawks" was the proper way to write the team's nickname back then. It wasn't until the late 1980s that the Hawks dropped the space in their nickname.
     Chicago had a miserable season in 1976-77, with a 26-43-11 record. However, this would still give them a third place finish in the mediocre Smythe Division, ahead of Vancouver and Colorado. In fact, no team in this division would finish above .500.  After stumbling to a 10-19-5 start, Ivan dropped Head Coach Billy Reay in favor of Bill White.
     Ivan Boldirev lead the Hawks on offense that year, scoring 24 goals and 62 points in 80 games. Dick Redmond and Darcy Rota were the only other 20-goal scorers in Chicago, though veterans Stan Mikita (19) and Pit Martin (17) came close. As a team, Chicago scored 240 goals, sixth-lowest in the league.
     The defense struggled to keep the Hawks afloat that year, surrendering 298 goals, the sixth-most in the NHL. Veteran Tony Esposito did the best he could in front of a porous defense, going 25-36-8 with a 3.45 GAA and 2 shutouts. "Tony O" had a revolving door of backups that year, including former Ranger Gilles Villemeure, Michel Dumas and Mike Veisor. Naturally, Esposito got the nod for the playoffs.
     Despite the lousy record, the Black Hawks qualified for the 1977 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their preliminary round opponent was the New York Islanders, who finished second in the much stronger Patrick Division with a 47-21-12 record. Not surprisingly, the Hawks were broomed in two straight games (best-of-three).
     This program is typical of Goal magazines: part of it is a 41-page Black Hawks program, while the rest is Goal magazine. Overall, it's about 101 pages, many of which are in color. There's an interview with Billy Cunningham, who just recently retired with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. Turns out that Cunningham was a big hockey fan, who admitted to following the Rangers as a kid in Brooklyn. He talked about the similarities between the two sports, what he likes the most about hockey and what players excite him the most. One article is about Sabres goalie Gerry Desjardins, while another is about how hockey teams utilized CB radios, which were all the rage back then. In the Black Hawks section, you have photos of several Hawks and their families, a yearly Hawks regular season record list and both lineups.
     That night's opponent was the Colorado Rockies, who were the Kansas City Scouts the previous season, and would eventually become the New Jersey Devils in 1982. No idea what date this program is from, though. Legendary defenseman Bobby Orr was with the Hawks by now, but was on the downside of his brilliant career, thanks to constant knee problems and would only play in 20 games. Plenty of advertisements as usual, including Hanley Dawson Cadillac, Kosher Zion Beef Franks, First National Bank of Chicago and Mennen Skin Bracer. Car ads include the Jeep Pickup, the 1977 Buick Riviera Coupe and the 1977 Dodge Colt.

Chicago Black Hawks Statistics: 1976-77 (from

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