Defining Chicago Black Hawk History: Charlie Gardiner

Kyle WahlgrenCorrespondent IJune 23, 2010

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1945, Chuck Gardiner played with the Black Hawks from 1927 to 1934.  He served as the team captain for the first ever Stanley Cup Championship in team history, but a story is never without twists and turns.

Gardiner came to the NHL in the 1927-28 season and started for the Black Hawks right out of the gate. While starting in 84 of the 88 games through his first two seasons he only managed 13 wins and 10 ties.

While still managing to compile eight shutouts and a goals against average of 2.36, the negativity feedback surrounded Gardiner and almost led to a premature departure of the young professional’s career. 

How did Gardiner respond?

He would eventually start every game over the next four years (186 games). 

In that same time span he would lead the Black Hawks to the Stanley Cup Finals once, losing to the Montreal Canadiens. He would also lead the Hawks into the playoffs two other years, unfortunately making early exits.

At the beginning of the 1933-34 season, Gardiner would be named team captain—previously held by Helge Bostrom. 

Throughout the season, Gardiner continued to suffer from an illness that would later be determined as a tonsillar infection. This would cause him severe fatigue that promptly would lead to Gardiner slouching over the pipes during breaks in the action.

However, this would not stop Gardiner from leading his team.

After compiling 20 wins and 11 ties, the Black Hawks moved into the playoffs. 

Gardiner would post a record of 6-1-1 in the playoffs. This would include three shutouts and a 1.33 goals against average. Most of all he would lead the Black Hawks to their first ever Stanley Cup Championship.

Aside from being the only goalie to captain a Stanley Cup Champion, he assumed many accolades over his short lived career. 

He was awarded the Vezina Trophy twice and was elected to the All-Star team on four separate occasions. 

In a span of 316 career games, he accumulated 42 shutouts and a 2.02 goals against average. 

Besides having a win percentage below .500, he flourished in the playoffs. 

In 21 games, Gardiner accumulated 12 wins, 5 shutouts, and a 1.43 goals against average.

The career of Charlie Gardiner was unexpectedly cut short following the championship title in 1934. 

In the off-season, Gardiner slipped into a life-ending coma and never returned from it. 

While leaving his life on the ice, he brought happiness to thousands amongst hard times in Chicago.  Chuck Gardiner will always serve as an immortal piece of Blackhawks’ history.