Mush March

Harold "Mush" March was a fiery little right wing who played his entire career of 17 years with the Chicago Blackhawks. Dit Clapper is the only player of this early era who exceeded March's record of service with one club.

March was born in Silton, Sask. October 18th, 1908, March was an excellent amateur player, capturing the Memorial Cup with the Regina Monarchs in 1928. Later that autumn he turned pro with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Hawks were one of the worst teams in the NHL at that stage, but thanks to some timely scoring by March, they soon became a Stanley Cup contender. March was at his best on a line with Vic Ripley and Art Somers when they eliminated Toronto but lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals in 1931.

He was not the greatest scorer of his time, but he had a penchant for scoring famous goals. It was Mush March who scored the very first goal ever scored in Maple Leaf Gardens when the Leafs and Hawks played the very first game there in 1931-32, as Chicago won the game and sent fans home disappointed that the Leafs lost the first ever game played in that famous stadium.

March reached his peak in 1933-34 when teamed with Doc Romnes and Paul Thompson. He scored the winning goal to oust the Canadiens in the first round and was the man who won the Blackhawks very first Stanley Cup with his goal at 10:05 of the second overtime period - the only goal of the game - that clinched the Stanley Cup against Detroit.

March, nicknamed "Mush" after a diminutive cartoon character of the day, described his goal in John Devaney and Bert Goldblatt's book "The Stanley Cup:"

"Well on that goal that won the series, they had a face-off. I shot it and it went through Cude's legs (Wilf Cude, the Detroit goaler who later starred with the Montreal Canadiens) and into the net. I didn't realize it at the second, you know, that we'd won the Stanley Cup, but it was great. I rushed in and got the puck and then the fellows grabbed me and wheeled me on their shoulders all the way around the rink. It was nice to see my name on it for the first time. It's always nice to be a champion."

The Romnes-Thompson-March line played together another four years following that Stanley Cup win, quietly being one of the most feared units in hockey. The line was driven by the diminutive March. Just 5'5" and 155lbs, the spunky right winger mixed it up with the roughest players in the league, as his penalty records attest. His timely scoring and abrasive approach made him very popular with the Chicago fans and became the standard of comparison for all right wing candidates for the team.

Although Chicago finished third in the American Division in 1937-38, led by March, Romnes and Thompson, the Blackhawks provided one of the biggest upsets in NHL history when they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3 games to 1 to win the Stanley Cup. March suffered a groin injury in game one of the finals and he was missed as Toronto won game two. But March came back for game three and four and Chicago won the Cup.

There were changes in the Chicago lineup for 1938-39. Romnes and Thompson were replaced by Johnny Gottselig and Cully Dahlstrom, but the mighty mite March carried on at right wing and continued his unselfish play. A couple of years later he was teamed together with the magical Bentley brothers, Max and Doug, and the veteran could still skate with the young fellows.

The first serious threat to March's job came when Bill Mosienko was signed for 1941-42. Mush worked on second line with George Allen and Dahlstrom for 1943-44. He had a good season but hurt his knee badly in the playoffs against Detroit which completely slowed him down. Unable to get untracked in the 1944-45 season, March decided the time had come to retire. He would stay in the NHL for 11 years, skating as a linesman.

After retirement on the ice he worked his way up to a vice president position and part owner of a bearings company and lived in North Riverside, Illinois. When Maple Leaf Gardens was closed in 1999, he and Red Horner dropped the final ceremonial first puck of the final Leaf game played in Maple Leaf Gardens. Horner, 89, and March, 90, were the two remaining survivors of the very first game played there that November night in 1931.

March passed away on January 9th, 2002, at the age of 93. Then living in Paxton, Illinois, he was said to have died peacefully in his sleep while battling pneumonia in a nursing home.


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