Gradiner receiving the 1934 Vezina Trophy.

Charles "Chuck" Gardiner (December 31, 1904 – June 13, 1934) was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender who played for the Black Hawks. Born in Edinburg, Scotland, Gardiner moved with his family to Canada as a child. Playing all of his junior hockey in or around Winnipeg, Manitoba, Gardiner joined the Black Hawks in the 1927–28 season. He played seven seasons with Chicago, winning two Vezina trophies, earning three berths to the First All-Star Team, and a berth to the Second All-Star team. In 1934, Gardiner became the only NHL goaltender to captain his team to a Stanley Cup win. A few months after winning the Cup, Gardiner died from a brain hemorrhage brought on by a tonsillar infection, at the age of 29. He became posthumously a charter member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945.

Personal lifeEdit

Gardiner was born in Edinburg, Scotland, the third son and fourth child of John and Janet Gardiner. Along with his parents, older brothers John and Alexander, older sister Edith and younger sister Christina, he emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba at age seven in 1911. The family initially lived in a house on William Avenue before relocating to Alexander Street; both streets were south of the railways, and were full of Scottish-Irish working class families.[1] John took a job as a rail car repairer, and Gardiner took an early interest in the trains, often waiting up late at night to watch them arrive into the city. He was enrolled at the Albert School, and befriended Wilf Cude, an immigrant child from Wales who would also go on to be a National Hockey League (NHL) goaltender.[2]

When the First World War began in 1914, both of Gardiner's brothers enlisted in the military and were sent overseas. Gardiner's father John also enlisted, but he died May 30, 1916 before he was sent overseas. Both his brothers returned home after the war ended; while Alex was unharmed, John had been involved in a poison gas attack, and was seriously ill.[3] To help provide for the family Gardiner began working for the J.H. Ashdown Hardware Company at the age of twelve.[4] In December 1928 John began to develop an illness as a result of his poison gas attack in the war, and died December 13. Edith had planned to get married on December 31, but wanted to delay the marriage because of John's death, though her family convinced her to continue with the original plan.[5]

Gardiner married Myrtle Brooks August 6, 1927 at Grace United Church in Winnipeg.[6] Their first son, Robert Roy, was born May 20, 1929.[7] They also had a girl on May 7, 1931, but she died the same day.[8]

While working at the hardware store, Gardiner first played organised sports as a member of the store's baseball team.[4] Gardiner quickly started playing ice hockey, with the same passion as the children who were born in Canada. A poor skater, he played goaltender as a child. Playing on Winnipeg's frozen ponds, Gardiner employed an acrobatic style, instead of the nearly-universal stand-up style played in that era, to avoid having his hands and feet frostbitten.[9] By the age of 14, Gardiner made the intermediate team of the Selkirk Fishermen.[10]

Played in the 13th Grey Cup with the Winnipeg Tammany Tigers, who lost to the Ottawa Senators 24–1.[11]

Gardiner attended church services at Grace United Church in Winnipeg, the same place where he was married.[12] He was also a Freemason, and joined the St. John's Lodge in Winnipeg on April 21, 1926.[13] During the summer of 1933 he was selected as a Shriner at the Lodge; at the age of 29 he was the youngest Shriner in the city.[14]

Outside of hockey Gardiner enjoyed several different hobbies. During one off-season from the Black Hawks, Gardiner began taking flying lessons from his former teammate Konrad Johannesson. He quickly learned how to fly solo and would buy shares in the Winnipeg Flying Club, which Johannesson had founded.[15] He also enjoyed shooting rifles; in the summer of 1931 he would be recognised for this when he was elected Field Secretary of the Winnipeg Gun Club.[16] The following summer Gardiner earned a certificate in business administration and sales from the International Correspondence Schools.[17] He then became a partner in a sporting goods business and travelled across Western Canada in the summer to sell products to sports teams.[18]

Pre-NHL careerEdit

Gardiner played junior ice hockey with the Winnipeg Tigers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) for three seasons, from 1921 to 1924.[19][20] He joined the Selkirk Fishermensenior team for the 1924–25 season. The Fishermen played in the highest amateur league in Manitoba and were finalists for the championship the year before.[21] Gardiner appeared in 18 games for Selkirk, posting two shutouts and a 1.83 goals against average. They again reached the finals but lost to the Port Arthur Bearcats. The loss made Gardiner feel dejected and ashamed, though people assured him he had played well and had several offers for different teams. He decided to join the profesisonal Winnipeg Maroons of the Central Hockey League (CHL).[22] As he would be a professional, Gardiner was forced to give up his baseball career, which he was reluctant to do; he finished with a career batting average of .300.[22]Playing two seasons in Winnipeg, Gardiner appeared in 74 games, posting 12 shutouts, and 2.14 and 2.16 goals-against average in the two seasons, respectively.[19]

Chicago Black HawksEdit

[1][2]Gardiner (far bottom right) at the Ace Bailey Benefit All-Star GameGardiner joined the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1927–28 season. In his first season with the Black Hawks, Gardiner played in 40 out of 44 of Chicago's games. Posting a 2.83 goals average, Gardiner won or tied only eight games, with three of those games being shutouts. The following season, Gardiner appeared in all of 44 of Chicago's games.[19] Known as the NHL's "goalless wonders",[23] Chicago scored only 33 goals the entire season, finishing with a 7–29–8 record.[24] Gardiner posted five shutouts and a 1.85 goals against average that season.[19] During a game against the New York Rangers on February 3, 1929 WJ Holmes, manager of the Maroons came to Chicago to watch Gardiner play. The Rangers won the game 3–2 though Gardiner played well. Even so Frederic McLaughlin, owner of the Hawks, offered to sell him back to Winnipeg for $3500. Only after Barney Stanley and Hugh Lehman talked to McLaughlin did he back down on the deal.[25] After being booed by the Chicago fans, Gardiner nearly retired, before being talked out of it by Duke Keats.[23]

After the NHL changed its rules to allow forward passing in the offensive zone in the 1929–30 season, goal scoring increased league-wide. While Chicago increased its goals scored to 117,[24] Gardiner's goals against average rose by only 0.57, to 2.42.[19] Gardiner's total number of shutouts fell by two, from five to three.[19] Chicago improved its regular season record to 21–18–15,[24] placing second in the American Division,[26] and making the playoffs. In the playoffs, the Black Hawks lost to the Montreal Canadiens 3–2 in a two-game, total-goal series, losing and tying one game.[27] In the 1930–31 season, Chicago placed, once more, second in the American Division,[26] with a 24–17–3 record.[24] Gardiner recorded one of his best statistical years, recording 12 shutouts to go with a 1.73 goals against average.[19] Late in December 1930 the New York Americans offered $10,000 to the Hawks in exchange for Gardiner, double his salary; McLaughlin refused the offer.[28] He was also named, for the first time, to the First All-Star team.[29] In the playoffs, Chicago advanced to the Stanley Cup final, losing once more to the Montreal Canadiens, three games to two.[30] Posting a 5–3–2 record in the playoffs, Gardiner had another two shutouts and a 1.32 goals against average.[19]

In the 1931–32 season, Chicago posted a 18–19–11 regular season record.[24] Gardiner posted four shutouts and a 1.85 goals against average.[19] Gardiner was named to the First All-Star Team, and won the Vezina Trophy for his first time.[29] Placing second in the American Division for the third season in a row,[26] the Black Hawks lost a two-game, total-goal series 6–2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.[31] Gardiner posted a 1–1 playoff record, with one shutout and a 3.00 goals against average.[19] In the 1932–33 season, Chicago missed the playoffs, with a 16-20-12 record,[24] placing fourth in the American Division.[26] Gardiner recorded five shutouts, with a 2.01 goals against average.[19] He was named, for his only time, to the Second All-Star team.[29]

Before the beginning of the 1933–34 season, Gardiner's teammates unanimously elected him captain.[32] During the regular season, Chicago posted a 20–17–11 record.[24] Gardiner had 10 shutouts, and a 1.63 goals against average.[19] He was named for the third time to the First All-Star team, and won the Vezina Trophy for the second time.[29] On February 14, 1934, he was a participant of the Ace Bailey Benefit Game, playing goaltender for the All-Stars, who played against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the playoffs, Gardiner had a 6–1–1 record, with two shutouts and a 1.33 goals against average, as Chicago won its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.[19] During the Stanley Cup parade, Chicago defenseman Roger Jenkins carted Gardiner in a wheelbarrow around Chicago's business district after a pre-playoff bet.[33]

Illness and deathEdit

During the 1932–33 season Gardiner began to develop a tonsil infection that drained his strength. While he initially kept the infection private, Gardiner made his condition public on December 23, 1932.[34] Even though he was ill, Gardiner played the next night in Toronto. Though his fifty-five saves were the deciding factor in the Black Hawks win and his performance was so good that both league President Frank Calder and Maple Leafs star forward Charlie Conacher praised him, he was so sick he would collapse on the dressing room floor in between periods with a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit; after the game Gardiner was rushed to a local hospital.[35] This was the first notable symptom of Gardiner's health issues.[34]

In January 1934 the Black Hawks were on a train back to Chicago when Gardiner felt an intense pain in his throat that spread to the rest of his body, notably his kidneys. When questioned by Tommy Gorman about his issue, Gardiner lied to Gorman and insisted it was only a minor headache. However when Gardiner woke up on the train in the morning, he had trouble seeing, as black spots obscured his vision. This was Gardiner's first uremic convulsion.[36]

Gardiner health continued to be an issue throughout the 1934 NHL playoffs. On March 29, 1934 in a playoff game against the Montreal Maroons Gardiner had a shutout as the Black Hawks won 3–0; though he was named first star as the best player of the game, Gardiner was in extreme pain during the entire game with a fever of 102 Fahrenheit and was attended to by a doctor in the dressing room during intermissions.[37]

Playing with a tonsillar infection for most of the season, Gardiner was often slumped over his crossbar during breaks in games, nearly blacking out. After leaving for a singing lesson in June 1934, Gardiner, a baritone, collapsed. He went into a coma, from which he never woke. Gardiner died at age 29, on June 13, 1934, from a brain hemorrhage brought on by the infection.[33]


Gardiner was the first goaltender who caught with his right hand to win the Vezina Trophy.[38] He is the only NHL goaltender to captain his team to a Stanley Cup victory.[38][39] In 1945, Gardiner became a charter member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1998, he was ranked number 76 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. Gardiner is an Honored Member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame,[40] Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum,[10] and the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.[20] Overall, he played 316 NHL games, winning 122, with a goals against average of 2.02 goals, and 42 shutouts. In the playoffs, Gardiner appeared in 21 games, with a 1.43 goals against average and five shutouts.[40][41]

Career statisticsEdit

[edit]Regular season and playoffsEdit

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP W L T Min GA SO GAA GP W L T Min GA SO GAA
1921–22 Winnipeg Tigers MJHL 1 0 1 0 60 6 0 6.00
1922–23 Winnipeg Tigers MJHL 6 370 19 0 3.08
1923–24 Winnipeg Tigers MJHL 1 1 0 0 60 0 1 0.00
1924–25 Selkirk Fishermen MHL 18 1080 33 2 1,83 2 0 2 0 120 6 0 3.00
1925–26 Winnipeg Maroons CHL 38 2280 82 6 2.16 5 300 10 1 2.00
1926–27 Winnipeg Maroons AHA 36 17 14 5 2203 77 6 2.14 3 0 3 0 180 8 0 2.67
1927–28 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 40 6 32 2 2420 114 3 2.83
1928–29 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 44 7 29 8 2758 85 5 1.85
1929–30 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 44 21 18 5 2750 111 3 2.42 2 0 1 1 172 3 0 1.05
1930–31 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 44 24 17 3 2710 78 12 1.73 9 5 3 1 638 14 2 1.32
1931–32 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 48 18 19 11 2989 92 4 1.85 2 1 1 0 120 6 1 3.00
1932–33 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 48 16 20 12 3010 101 5 2.01
1933–34 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 48 20 17 11 3050 83 10 1.63 8 6 1 1 542 12 2 1.33
NHL totals 316 112 152 52 19687 664 42 2.02 21 12 6 3 1472 35 5 1.43
  • NHL statistics are from[42]



Award Year(s)
Vezina Trophy 1932, 1934
First All-Star Team Goaltender 1931, 1932, 1934
Second All-Star Team Goaltender 1933
Stanley Cup 1934