78 years later, Blackhawks forward John Harms finally gets his rookie card as part of campaign to honor Indigenous players
CHICAGO — John Harms seemed to fade from Chicago Blackhawks lore just as quickly as he arrived.
Harms, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound right wing for the Hawks from 1943-45, is best known for being the first player to score his first three goals in a Stanley Cup Final — before he ever scored in a regular-season game.
But he found himself out of the picture in Chicago.
Now he’ll be remembered through a trading-card series by Upper Deck commemorating eight Indigenous players, called the First Peoples Rookie Cards.
Artist Jacob Alexis, who hails from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, designed the cards. The narratives on the backs were written by collector Naim Cardinal, who is a Cree and member of Tallcree First Nation, according to a release from Upper Deck.
Paul Nguyen, a senior marketing manager for Upper Deck, told The Associated Press that Cardinal first suggested the cards at a trade show a few years ago.
“We thought that was an interesting concept,” Nguyen said. “So we asked other people within the hockey community to see if there was an appetite for a set like this, and we heard yes.”
The other players honored with cards are Dan Frawley (Pittsburgh Penguins), Danny Hodgson (Toronto Maple Leafs), Victor Mercredi (Atlanta Flames), Rocky Trottier (New Jersey Devils), William LeCaine (Pittsburgh Penguins), Ted Nolan (Detroit Red Wings) and Jason Simon (Phoenix Coyotes).
William Douglas of the NHL’s The Color of Hockey blog first reported the set’s release.
Harms was born April 29, 1925, in Battleford, Saskatchewan, “to John Laird and Helen Haubeck, a woman of Cree descent,” according to a 2003 obituary in the Vernon, British Columbia, Morning Star and corroborated by the Society for International Hockey Research.
“John was adopted and raised by Helen and John Harms Sr., Dutch Mennonite migrant farmers,” according to the report.
Harms played for the minor league affiliate Hershey Bears in 1943-44 before making his NHL debut against the Bruins on March 14, 1944, at Boston Garden. He wouldn’t make another appearance until the ‘44 Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens in April. A Chicago Tribune article on April 3, 1944, foretold his big opportunity.
“Johnny Harms, a 19 year old from Saskatoon, Sask., and hockey being what it is, Johnny could be a personage before the seven game series runs its course,” Edward Prell wrote.
On April 4, Harms made his playoff debut in Game 1. He scored a goal in each of the next three games, but the Habs swept the series in four games in Montreal.
The following season, he scored 5 minutes, 15 seconds into the season opener against the Maple Leafs on Oct. 29, 1944. The Hawks went on to lose, 11-5, at Chicago Stadium, and Harms would score only four more goals and add five assists in 43 games that season.
After its conclusion, he never played in another NHL game.
Harms went on to play for the USHL’s Kansas City Pla-Mors and Kansas City Mohawks, the Western International Hockey League’s Nelson Maple Leafs, the Western Canada Senior Hockey League’s Regina Capitals and the Okanagan Senior Amateur Hockey League’s Kelowna Packers and Vernon Canadians, with whom he finished his career in 1961.
Harms was inducted into the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002 as a member of the semipro Canadians, with whom he won the 1956 Allan Cup.
He died Jan. 5, 2003, at 77.