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Hawks' early training: Cigarettes and sitting around

Oh, Hawks, how far you’ve come.

In a simpler time, when sports chatter was confined to radio waves and ink on dead trees, the Blackhawks kissed their first Stanley Cup. The year was 1934, and hockey still was a novelty from up north, at least according to the pages of the recently digitally archived magazine called Chicagoan.

The University of Chicago Library was recently part of an effort to digitize the Jazz-age magazine, which mirrored the style of the New Yorker. Published from 1926 to 1935, the publication ran the gamut on covering the Chicago scene, sports most certainly included.

As the Hawks look to add another set of names to the fabled Cup this, the pages of the Chicagoan reveal some interesting -- and bizarre -- tales of the first championship team. Here are some highlights and a throwback-style guide to Chicago’s (really) early hockey days.

>> The Chicagoan has plenty of bits about the Hawks, but you’ve got to know how to look. The mag referred to the team as both Blackhawks and Black Hawks, so search both for the full reading list

>> Patrick Kane solidified the final goal to win the Cup in 2010. The guy who slapped the final puck in the net in 1934? The extremely intimidating sounding Mush March.

>> Hawks then-General Manager Major Frederic McLaughlin literally was a target for Hawks players. McLaughlin apparently stood scowling behind the enemy goal each game, causing one anonymous Hawks player to be quoted saying “Every time I go down to shoot, I see that horse face behind the goal and I want to shoot the puck right at it."

>> This era's morning skates and Jonny’s Ice House were unheard of for the Blackhawks of old. An article credits McLaughlin for the novel idea of hiring trainers for the players. Before that, the article notes players’ off season training consisted of “smoking cigarettes and finding places to park their feet." It was so bad, the article says one of McLaughlin’s managers advised against both running and walking, as it “would bring kinks to their leg muscles."

>> One journalist for the Chicagoan had to humble himself after the Hawks took the Cup for the first time. “Wronger than hell” was the way writer Kenneth D. Fry described his predictions. He thought the Hawks would break even at best on the season.

Want more? The Chicagoan has plenty more bits about the Hawks and other early Chicago sports teams here.

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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