Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One-Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we take a look at the Chicago Blackhawks One-Hit Wonders.
Chicago Blackhawks One-Hit Wonders
Prior to his NHL debut, Mike Karakas had played four years in the American Hockey Association. His first two he played for the Chicago Shamrocks, during the 1930-31 season as their back up and the next as the starting goaltender. He was named the AHA’s most valuable goalie that season as well. The next season he tried out for the Detroit Red Wings, but was sent to play for the Tulsa Oilers and the St. Louis Eagles.
Karakas made his NHL debut during the 1935-36 season. He started in all 48 games that season as a rookie, putting up an impressive 1.85 goals-against-average. To add to this success he put up nine shutouts and capped the year off by being awarded the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie.
After the Wonder
Despite Karakas’ leading the team to a post-season appearance, he proceeded to lay an egg. In two playoff games, he allowed seven goals on 30 shots. The following season his numbers dropped. He won seven fewer games on the season, and put up a 2.64 goals-against-average with five shutouts. Still impressive, but not the elite level he had the previous season. The season after that he put up a similar win-loss record and a slightly higher goals-against-average. Karakas helped the team win a Stanley Cup that season, despite having the worst record of playoff teams.
After the Black Hawks cup in the 1937-38 season, Karakas never reached the level of play he had achieved in his rookie season. After a handful of years playing in the AHL, and another short stint in the NHL with Chicago, he retired a member of the AHL’s Providence club.
From 1963 to 1968, Jim Pappin spent his NHL career as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his 223 games played in Toronto, he only had one 20-goal season. He did help the team win two Stanley Cups, including the cup-winning goal in 1967. He notched eight goals and seven assists for 15 points in 23 playoff appearances.
A 29-year-old Pappin had joined the Chicago Black Hawks organization coming off of his second-best season over his five seasons in the league. During the 1967-68 season, Pappin put up 28 points, scoring 13 goals. His first season in Chicago was a breakout year for the forward, scoring 30 goals and hitting the 70-point mark for the first time in his career. This season would foreshadow Pappin’s future in Chicago.
Pappin went into the 1972-73 season coming off of an underwhelming 48-point year. He had shown flashes of his breakout season in the preceding seasons, but only hit the 50-point mark once during the 1969-70 campaign. The 1972-73 season was different, however. In 76 games played, Pappin put up a career-high 41 goals and 51 assists for a total of 92 points. He added to his regular-season success by putting up 15 points in that season Stanley Cup run.
After the Wonder
The next two seasons in Chicago were successful ones for the forward, but he never reached that level of offensive production again. He put up 73 and 63 points, respectively, to close out his career in Chicago. The 36-year-old then looked west and played 32 games for the California Golden Seals and scoring 19 points. He followed the club to Cleveland and closed his playing career with 10 points in 24 games played during the 1976-77 season. After retiring he served as the Blackhawks Director of U.S. Scouting, and is currently a scout for the Anaheim Ducks.
Pappin’s name resurfaced in the news in 2007 when his lost 1967 Stanley Cup ring was found in the Gulf of Mexico by a treasure hunter.
A Calgary, Alberta native, Troy Murray played much of his career for the Chicago in the 1980s. His first four seasons saw him play in 196 games and put up 112 points during the regular season, and 21 points in 29 playoff appearances. He was a defensive-minded player, receiving votes for the Selke Trophy during the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons.
Murray’s offensive production had been increasing each season, and was coming off of a 66-point performance going into the 1985-86 season. When it was all said and done, the 23-year-old centre put up 45 goals and 54 assists for 99 points. He played minutes on the power play that season too, putting up 23 points on the man advantage. To cap off the career-best season, Murray won the Selke as the league’s best defensive forward and was a member of that season’s All-Star team alongside teammate and member of the Hall of Fame, Denis Savard.
After the Wonder
Murray never passed the 30-goal mark again in his career and only scored 71 points the following season in Chicago. He bounced around teams the next couple of seasons, playing for the Winnipeg Jets from 1991 to 1993 before being traded back to Chicago. The following season he played 27 games between Chicago and the Ottawa Senators putting up six points in the process. He spent the 1994-95 season between the Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He ended his NHL career as a member of the 1995-96 Stanley Cup winning Colorado Avalanche.
Murray finished his playing career as a member of the IHL’s Chicago Wolves, putting up 50 points. After retiring, Murray joined the Blackhawks TV analysis team, and is now currently the colour commentator for the team’s radio broadcasts on WGN-AM.