Litzenberger broke in with Montreal, appearing in two games in 1952-53 and three games in 1953-54 while waiting his turn to crack the Canadiens’ talent-rich lineup. He became a regular in 1954-55, then was sold to Chicago in midseason as part of the NHL’s “Help the Hawks Plan,” a deliberate attempt by the league to prop up the floundering franchise.
“I cried real tears,” Litzenberger said of the trade to Chicago—which he didn’t realize would turn his career around. He scored 40 points in 44 games to earn the Calder Trophy, and remained a prolific scorer for the next several years. Litzenberger was also Bobby Hull’s first center when the Golden Jet joined the Hawks in 1957.
In 1959, the Litzenbergers’ car struck a viaduct on an icy Chicago road. Litzenberger suffered cracked ribs, a contusion of the liver, and a severe concussion; his wife was killed. Litzenberger was not the same player after the accident. He never again was much of a scoring threat, but he remained a workmanlike role player who could work all forward positions and kill penalties.
Litzenberger served as captain of the Blackhawks club that won the 1961 Stanley Cup. He was traded to Detroit in the off-season, then dispatched to Toronto in time to win three more Stanley Cups in 1962, 1963, and 1964. He is the only player in NHL annals to win four consecutive titles while playing with different teams.
“Success followed Eddie around like a hungry pup,” said Pierre Pilote, the Hall of Fame defenseman who succeeded Litzenberger as Hawks’ captain. “In his own quiet way, he was a top-notch leader, on the ice and off. He knew the total game, always thinking of defense as much as scoring goals. Off the ice, few players ever were better dressers or conducted themselves as gentlemanly. He was just one great guy.”