Frederic McLaughlin

Maj. Frederic McLaughlin (27 June 1877 – 17 December 1944) was an American businessman and soldier. He was the first owner of the Chicago Black Hawks National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey team.

Frederic McLaughlin
Born(1877-06-28)28 June 1877
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died17 December 1944(1944-12-17) (aged 67)
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
RankUS-O4 insignia.svg Major

Born in Chicago, Illinois, McLaughlin inherited the successful "McLaughlin's Manor House"[1] coffee business from his father, who died in 1905. McLaughlin was a graduate of Harvard University and served in the United States Army during World War I. McLaughlin achieved the rank of Major and was often referred to as Major McLaughlin for the rest of his life.

Chicago BlackhawksEdit

In May 1926, the NHL had granted an expansion franchise to former football star Huntington Hardwick and his syndicate of investors.[2] On 1 June, McLaughlin, who had no experience in the ice hockey business, purchased the Chicago expansion franchise from Hardwick.[3] He named the team the Black Hawks after the nickname of his army unit, the 86th Infantry "Blackhawk" Division, where he had served in the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion. Most of the Hawks players were from the Portland Rosebuds of the Western Hockey League purchased from WHL owner Frank Patrick for $100,000. During his 18 years as owner, McLaughlin would lead the franchise to two Stanley Cup wins, in 1934 and 1938.

At the time McLaughlin acquired the Black Hawks, he was married to Irene Castle, a famous dancer and film actress. She is credited with creating the "Indian head" design of the first Black Hawks sweater.[4] McLaughlin was a "hands on" owner and he made 13 coaching changes in 18 years. One Hawk coach was Godfrey Matheson, who got the job when he met McLaughlin on the train and impressed McLaughlin with his hockey knowledge. Matheson lost the job after two games.[5]

McLaughlin was fiercely patriotic, and at various times during his ownership would try to fill his roster with as many Americans as possible, during a time when very few American-born players played in the NHL. The 1938 Stanley Cup win was done with eight Americans on the roster and Bostonian Bill Stewart was coach. Stewart was fired early the next season.[6]

As an owner, McLaughlin also feuded with other owners. James Norris, the Detroit owner, set up a competing Chicago team in the American Association, locking the Hawks out of the Chicago Stadium. The Norris family would eventually purchase the Hawks after McLaughlin's death. Conn Smythe, manager of Toronto supplies the following quote on McLaughlin:

"Where hockey was concerned, Major McLaughlin was the strangest bird and, yes, perhaps the biggest nut I met in my entire life."[6]

McLaughlin died of heart disease at age 67. In 1963, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder.


  • Faber, Brandon; Kempenaar, Adam; Rogowin, Adam; Sandberg, John; Tillotson, Rob, eds. (2013). 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks Media Guide (PDF). p. 274.
  • Goyens, Chrys; Orr, Frank; Turowetz, Allan; Duguay, Jean-Luc (2000). Blades on ice : a century of professional hockey. TPE Publishing. ISBN 0968622003.
  • Jenish, D'Arcy (2013). The NHL: 100 Years of On-Ice Action and Boardroom Battles. Random House LLC. ISBN 9780385671477.
  • McFarlane, Brian (2000). The Blackhawks. Toronto, Ontario: Stoddart Publishing. ISBN 0773732527.
  • Skog, Jason (2008). The Story of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Creative Company. ISBN 9781583416150.
  • Wong, John Chi-Kit (2005). Lords of the Rinks: The Emergence of the National Hockey League, 1875–1936. University of Toronto Press.
  1. ^ McFarlane 2000, p. 3.
  2. ^ Jenish 2013, pp. 46–47.
  3. ^ Jenish 2013, p. 52.
  4. ^ Skog 2008.
  5. ^ Faber 2013, p. 274.
  6. ^ a b Goyens 2000, p. 56.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
General Manager of the Chicago Black Hawks
Succeeded by
Bill Tobin