What do the Chicago Cardinals/ Americans, Chicago Shamrocks and Chicago Cougars all have in common? Once upon a time in history, they had the task of representing Chicago in semi-professional hockey leagues: the American Hockey Association (once the United States Amateur Hockey Association) and World Hockey Association. Driven into what is now a mere memory due to competition with the still-standing Blackhawks who were and still are part of the powerful National Hockey League, these teams have long been forgotten when referring to hockey in the Chicago area. But what once was still had an influence on the game of hockey and deserves to be remembered when reflecting upon the history of the fine city.
The Chicago Cardinals had a short lived life of one regulation season from 1926-7. Interestingly enough, in their short period of triumph, the team name changed from the Cardinals to the Americans in March of 1927. Eddie Livingstone not only owned but coached the team, leading them to a record of 11-24-2. Livingstone had previously owned the Toronto Blueshirts in the National Hockey Association. According to Wikia.com, Livingstone had constant conflict with the NHL which eventually led to the boot of not only Livingstone, but the team and AHA league in its entirety out of Chicago to make room for the Chicago Blackhawks as part of the NHL.
The Chicago Shamrocks had a similar fate as the Cardinals/Americans. They lasted a little longer than the previous team, but not by much. The Shamrocks played two seasons: 1930-1 and 1931-2. Owned by James Norris, the Shamrocks faced the same battle of trying to compete with the NHL and Blackhawks. Seemingly another fly buzzing in the ear of the Blackhawks and NHL league, the Shamrocks tried to join forces with the NHL but were shut down. For the combined two seasons, the team record was 54-34-7. Eventually, the American Hockey League became a minor league, but not before players of the Shamrocks and Cardinals were picked to play for various teams in the NHL.
Coincidentally, the Chicago Cardinals, Shamrocks and Blackhawks did have more than the simple game of hockey in common: they all considered the Chicago Coliseum their home rink for their respected periods in history. Eventually the Blackhawks left the Coliseum to play at the Chicago Stadium.
The Chicago Cougars did not appear in the history of hockey until much later. The team originated in 1972 and wrapped up in 1975, apparently following the short-lived fate of the other previous Chicago teams. The World Hockey Association consisted of a Western and Eastern division. Keeping with the pattern of unrest, the Cougars began playing in the Western division from 1972-3 and shifted to the Eastern to finish out its life as a Chicago hockey team.
Various reactions can occur upon reflection of hockey in Chicago. One can determine that the Blackhawks are really just that powerful, metaphorically knocking teams out of its way like a defender clears a winger out of the high slot. Another can ascertain that the leagues competing with the NHL were not as organized, well thought out and too small to compete with such a strong and ever-growing league as the NHL. Others can go with the old faithful assumption that fan support means everything. (Realistically, when it comes to sports, it sort of does.) On a personal level, the combination of all these conclusions seems to be the most probable of theses. What is inarguable and concrete is that while Chicago has seen its fair share of teams, it still has the Blackhawks and even additional teams to satisfy the appetite of hockey fans in the area. For more information on the teams, visit
http://encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/591.html, http://icehockey.wikia.com/wiki/Chicago_Cardinals, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Shamrocks, http://www.hockeydb.com/stte/chicago-shamrocks-5231.html and http://www.chicagocougars.net/.