Marcel Pronovost holds the unique distinction of being part of two different dynasties. From 1950-51 until 1964-65, Marcel was a crucial part of the Detroit Red Wings blueline. Proving his worth, Pronovost was named to the NHL's First All-Star Team in 1960 and 1961, and was a Second Team All-Star in 1958 and 1959. Yet, the defender born in Lac-a-la-Tortue, Quebec played in ten All-Star contests while toiling for the Red Wings. While with Detroit, the team finished first seven times and won the Stanley Cup in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955. After joining the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the 1965-66 season, Pronovost contributed to another Stanley Cup championship in 1967, the fourth that decade for his Maple Leaf teammates. Marcel also played in the 1968 All-Star Game as a Leaf, his eleventh and final All-Star appearance.
A Francophone playing in the all-Anglo Red Wings organization could have proven challenging for a lesser man, but Marcel Pronovost found no such impediment. "You don't differentiate between French or English. It doesn't make any difference what you speak or what colour you are. It's like being at war. Regardless of what side you're on, when the war is over, the war is over."
Of all the many accolades heaped on the broad shoulders of Marcel Pronovost, it is induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame that elicits the most pride for Pronovost. "I was fortunate that my mother and Dad were there," he explained, referring to the 1978 ceremony. "That was the crowning achievement to my career. The year that I got inducted, I was inducted with Jacques Plante, who I played with on a midget club in 1944, and with Andy Bathgate. Not too shabby! It was a memorable day." At that time, Marcel had been retired for eight seasons and had embarked on a coaching career. "I was coaching in Buffalo at that time."
Marcel's abundant skills were marveled at by his teammates, but appreciated far and wide around the NHL. "When I was elected to the Hall of Fame, Toe Blake and Frank Selke Sr. came personally to congratulate me and praised me for being voted in. All these little things make the difference," he proudly stated. "I was given a night in Montreal. I think I was the only one that played for another club that had a night in Montreal. They put it on TV. That was in 1960. They went to Frank Selke and said, 'This might run over time. You might want to cut it off.' He said, 'No way! Put it on. This should go on!' And it did."
Marcel Pronovost, an outstanding defenceman who played the game hard yet well, and a proud member of hockey's Hall of Fame.
Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and On-Line Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.