|Born||28 June 1877|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Lake Forest, Illinois
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Army|
Born in Chicago, Illinois, McLaughlin inherited the successful "McLaughlin's Manor House" 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.
In May 1926, the NHL had granted an expansion franchise to former football star Huntington Hardwick and his syndicate of investors. On 1 June, McLaughlin, who had no experience in the ice hockey business, purchased the Chicago expansion franchise from Hardwick. 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. 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.
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.
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.