Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 26
The Stanley Cup Journal


The Chicago Black Hawks stunned the hockey world by winning the Stanley Cup in 1961. The victory snapped Montreal's five-year domination of the trophy and was the first Cup win for the Black Hawks since 1938. (Dave Sandford/HHOF)
The Montreal Canadiens appeared unstoppable as the 1960-61 season opened. The Habs had won five Stanley Cup championships in a row with a team that included future Hall of Famers Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dickie Moore, Jacques Plante and Henri Richard. By the final buzzer of the regular season, the Canadiens had finished first with 92 points followed by Toronto with 90, Chicago with 75 and the Red Wings with 66.

Montreal faced Chicago in the semi-final. But shock of shocks, when the dust had settled, the upstart Black Hawks had eliminated the reigning champions, collecting four wins in six games. Bobby Hull had 2 goals and 5 assists against Montreal. Pierre Pilote had 6 assists. Stan Mikita tabulated 3 goals and an assist. Both Bill Hay and Ed Litzenberger contributed a goal and 2 assists.

A four-time Stanley Cup champion, Ed Litzenberger scored 178 goals and 238 assists for 416 points in 618 regular season NHL games. He finished in the NHL's top 10 scorers on three occasions. (O-Pee-Chee/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup final pitted the Black Hawks against the Red Wings. In the opening game of the series, Bobby Hull's 2 goals led the Hawks to a 3-2 win. Terry Sawchuk was injured mid-way through the first period and replaced by Hank Bassen. Ed Litzenberger, suffering a bad case of the flu, didn't dress in either Game 1 or Game 2, a 3-1 Detroit win. Pierre Pilote scored an unassisted goal in the second game which accounted for Chicago's only tally.

In Game 3, much of the excitement resulted after Alex Delvecchio's goal tied the game at 1 mid-way through the second. A hamster was tossed onto the ice at Detroit's Olympia and as it scurried across the frozen surface, Gordie Howe rescued it by picking it up and carrying it to safety. Detroit scored in the third to win the game by a score of 2-1.

Chicago's firepower ramped up for Game 4, a 6-3 Hawk win. Stan Mikita collected 2 goals and an assist while Pierre Pilote had a goal and 2 assists to fuel the Black Hawks cause. The juggernaut continued into Game 5 with Chicago spanking Detroit 5-1. The Chicago Black Hawks had won the Stanley Cup! It had been a long, woeful wait since 1938 when the Black Hawks last won the Stanley Cup. In fact, during the Original 6 era (1942-1967), Chicago's Stanley Cup victory of 1961 was the only time a team other than Montreal, Detroit or Toronto had won Lord Stanley's Cup!

Captain Ed Litzenberger accepted the Stanley Cup on behalf of his teammates from NHL president Clarence Campbell. It was an exciting time for the Hawks. With a nucleus of players like Hull, Mikita, Hay, Hall, Pilote and Litzenberger, it appeared as though the franchise was perched to win several more championships. To this day, they have yet to win again.

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Ed Litzenberger took the Stanley Cup to Innerkip, Ontario to meet fans and to help raise money for a prosthetic leg for local resident Florence Bosher.
(Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Ed Litzenberger selected Saturday, August 27 as his day with the Stanley Cup. He decided to help a Woodstock, Ontario woman in need of a new prosthetic leg. With the help of associates, Litzenberger booked the Innerkip Community Centre, just outside Woodstock, and hoped that donations made to get his autograph or a photo of the Stanley Cup would help raise money for this most thoughtful cause.

At noon, Ed Litzenberger arrived in Innerkip from his Toronto home and a crowd had already gathered. For over four hours, Eddie posed for photographs and happily signed autographs and, when all was said and done, Florence Bosher had close to $500 to be put towards her new leg.

When Litzenberger was asked about the best player he had ever seen, he remarked, "A lot of players had one or two areas that they excelled in. For example, Camille Henry of the Rangers had an extremely accurate shot. But when it cam to best all-around player, I'd definitely have to say Gordie Howe."

Ed Litzenberger debuted with Montreal in 1954-55 and was selected the NHL's rookie of the year. After being sold to Chicago in 1954, Litzenberger was a 30-goal scorer for the Black Hawks three years in a row in the late 1950's; a time when few players scored 30 or more goals in a season and an era when his team was consistently missing the playoffs. In 1956-57, Eddie finished fifth in league scoring. The next season, he finished sixth. In 1958-59, he finished fifth again.

After captaining the Black Hawks to a Stanley Cup win in 1961, Litzenberger was traded to Detroit. Don't feel sorry for 'Litz' — just before New Year's Eve 1961, the Toronto Maple Leafs claimed him on waivers and he won the Stanley Cup for a second straight season, except wearing a different sweater from the previous spring. In fact, Toronto was in the midst of a mini-dynasty and celebrated three Cup wins in a row. Eddie Litzenberger was a key component in those wins, giving the Neudorf, Saskatchewan native the distinction of winning the Stanley Cup in four consecutive seasons.

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An 8-time All-Star and 3-time Norris recipient, Pierre Pilote collected 498 points (80 goals and 418 assists) in 890 NHL contests. The defenseman was added to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975.
(Frank Prazak/HHOF)
After Ed Litzenberger's move to Detroit during the summer of 1961, Chicago chose their All-Star defenseman, Pierre Pilote, to captain the team. After succeeding Ed Litzenberger as captain of the Black Hawks, Pilote succeeded his former teammate with his day celebrating with the Stanley Cup.

Pierre took the Cup to Wyevale, Ontario on Sunday, August 28. A small community southwest of Midland, Wyevale is the current home of Pierre and his wife Anne. Their four children, Pierre, Denise, Renee and David joined them for the celebration.

Lord Stanley's trophy was taken to the North Simcoe Anglers and Hunters Club at 1:00 that afternoon. Pierre's kids had made displays chronicling their Dad's remarkable career — newspaper clippings, photos, artifacts. One letter provided much amusement to readers. It was an invitation for Pierre, along with Cup-winning teammates Bobby Hull and Glenn Hall, to attend the 1961 groundbreaking ceremony of the original Hockey Hall of Fame on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. "I never dreamed at the time that I'd ever be in the Hall of Fame myself," Pierre smiled. His daughter noted that her Dad's induction had taken place August 28, 1975 — exactly 30 years to the day from their celebration that day. The Hockey Hall of Fame stayed in that location until 1993 when it moved to its present location at the corner of Yonge and Front Streets in Toronto.

Anne and Pierre Pilote spent 13 seasons in Chicago, including 1961's Stanley Cup win, then finished with a season as a Toronto Maple Leaf in 1968-69. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Pierre's celebration with the Stanly Cup was open to the public, and the club was littered with family, friends, neighbours, media and hockey fans. At 4:30 that afternoon, a portrait photographer shot the Pilote family beside the Stanley Cup. Then, at six, the Cup was carried back into the hall where a catered dinner of roast beef, chicken, salad and vegetables was being served. Later, a lemon meringue pie and a specially-baked cake were served as Pierre and his family said a few words. "We hope that the heritage of the Stanley Cup has made your day as special as it has been for our family," started Pierre.

The Hall of Famer then commented on today's hockey activities. "I see the players are now going to go back to work. As far as I'm concerned, the players make way too much money. I'm not mad at them — no sir. In fact, I'm mad at my mother. She should have had me later in life. Then, maybe I could've earned that same kind of money. Man, would we have a party then!"

Pierre, Anne, their children and their children's children all posed around the trophy won by Pierre in 1961 during a celebration in Wyevale, Ontario. (Walt Neubrand/HHOF)
Pierre thanked his wonderful family and dear wife Anne for support through the years, concluding by saying, "If it weren't for Annie, I'd've gone through life thinking I had no faults!" The crowd roared with laughter.

Each of the Pilote children then spoke emotionally about their Dad and his impact on their lives. By the end of the evening, there wasn't a dry eye in Wyevale.

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On Friday, the Stanley Cup Journal visits Montreal and best friends Dollard St. Laurent and Phil Goyette. We look forward to your return visit!

Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Manager of Publishing and Editorial Services.
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