Curse of Muldoon
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The Curse of Muldoon was an alleged curse that supposedly prevented the Chicago Black Hawks (the team's name at the time) of the National Hockey League from finishing in first place, either in their division or, from 1938 to 1967, in the single-division NHL. It may have been the first public example of the mainstream media publicizing a "curse" on a major-league sports franchise.
The Hawks' first season, 1926–27, was a moderate success, with the forward line of Mickey MacKay, Babe Dye, and Dick Irvin each finishing near the top of the league's scoring race. The Hawks lost their 1927 first-round playoff series to the Boston Bruins. Following this series, team owner Frederic McLaughlin fired head coach Pete Muldoon.
Jim Coleman, a sportswriter for the Toronto Globe and Mail wrote in 1943 that the reason for Muldoon's firing boiled down to a heated end-of-season argument with McLaughlin. As the story goes, McLaughlin felt that the Black Hawks were good enough to finish first in the American Division. Muldoon disagreed, and McLaughlin fired him. Muldoon supposedly responded, "Fire me, Major, and you'll never finish first. I'll put a curse on this team that will hoodoo it until the end of time."
At the time, finishing in first place was considered to be as much of an achievement as winning the Stanley Cup. While the team would win the Stanley Cup in 1934 (defeating the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals), 1938 (defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs) and 1961 (again defeating the Red Wings), they would do so without having finished in first place either in a multi-division or a single-league format.
Effectiveness of curse
In 1967, the last season of the six-team NHL, the Hawks finished first, breaking the supposed Curse of Muldoon, 23 years after the death of McLaughlin. However, they lost the Stanley Cup Semifinals to the Maple Leafs. Afterward, sportswriter Jim Coleman, who first printed the story of the curse in 1943, admitted that he made the story up to break a writer's block he had as a column deadline approached.
The Blackhawks were not completely shut out during the post-1961 period. Since their 1961 Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks finished first in their Division (single-Division NHL 1942–67, Western Division 1968–74, Norris Division 1975–93, Central Division since 1994) 14 times: 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1993, 2010 and 2013. The team played in the Stanley Cup Finals seven times, in 1962, 1965, 1971, 1973, 1992, 2010 and 2013.
Nevertheless, the team did not win the Cup from 1961 until 2010—when they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers—which was the second longest drought of any current NHL team. The longest is 54 years (1940-1994) by the New York Rangers. The 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the first time since 1996 that the Blackhawks had advanced beyond the first round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when they defeated the Calgary Flames in the opening round and the Vancouver Canucks in the Conference Semi-Finals before falling to the Detroit Red Wings, in the Conference Finals. Moreover, until the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks had not appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1992, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However in both of their most recent championships (2010 versus the Flyers and 2013 versus the Boston Bruins) they finished first both times (2013 saw them clinch their second President's Trophy).
- Mooshill, Joe (13 March 1967). "Black Hawks bury 'Curse of Muldoon'". The Free-Lance Star (via Google News). Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- Mention of the Curse on the Blackhawks' website
- Holzman, Morey. "Blackhawks: Cursed, or Concoction?" The New York Times, Sunday, May 30, 2010.