Last modified on 18 June 2013, at 06:18

History of the National Hockey League/1942–1967/Norris House League

During the 1960s, it was often joked that "NHL" stood for "Norris House League" as the Norris family held interests in several of the league's teams, interests inherited from the patriarch, James E. Norris. James E. Norris had once played ice hockey for the Montreal Hockey Club, and fashioned the Red Wings logo to resemble the Montreal team's logo. When he died in 1952, he passed his interests along to his sons Bruce and James D. James D. Norris was a co-owner of the Black Hawks along with Arthur Wirtz, while his brother Bruce inherited ownership of the Red Wings. James D. Norris was also the largest shareholder in Madison Square Garden, giving him control over the Rangers.

The Black Hawks qualified for the playoffs only once between 1949 and 1957. The team's fortunes turned in 1958–59, following the acquisition of Ted Lindsay and Glenn Hall from Detroit. The Black Hawks made the playoffs, losing to Montreal in the semi-finals in 1959 and 1960 before capturing their first championship in 23 years in the 1961 Stanley Cup Finals. It was to remain Chicago's last title until 2010, the longest active streak in the NHL.

The Hawks' resurgence in the 1960s led Norris and Wirtz to take advantage of their customers. Dubbed the "Chicken Wings" by fans, the Hawks were famous for fleecing their fans. Ticket sellers were arrested for scalping from the box office, while the team charged $9 for playoff tickets in 1965, $3 more than Detroit, Toronto or Montreal. The Hawks also refused to broadcast road playoff games in Chicago, preferring to charge fans to watch the games via closed-circuit television at Chicago Stadium. Fans responded to the announcements by littering the ice and passing out leaflets urging a boycott of the team during Chicago's last regular season game in 1964–65.