He was best known as 'The Big M.' Exploding down the left wing, Frank Mahovlich would strike fear in the souls of goalies, from the moment he made his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1956-57 until the day he last untied his skates as a member of the WHA's Birmingham Bulls following the 1977-78 season.
|Through 1,181 NHL games, Frank Mahovlich scored 533 goals and assisted on 570 more for 1,103 points. The Big M added another 89 goals and 143 assists for 232 points in 237 WHA games. (Dave Sandford/HHOF)
By the time the 1972-73 season began, Frank had played on five Stanley Cup championships, had been named to the NHL's All-Star Team eight times and had already played 15 sterling seasons of professional hockey 1 with Toronto, 3½ with Detroit and a season-and-a-half with the Canadiens. Something else had also transpired a victorious but unsettling tournament known as the Summit Series. Although Mahovlich played in six games, scoring a goal and an assist, he had been ill before traveling to the Soviet Union. "I developed a bad allergy that forced me to seek medical treatment," Frank admitted. "I stayed back in Canada for a couple of days before rejoining the team. This allergy hit me hard and both my eyes were swollen shut. It wasn't until two or three years later that I found out that the enemy was ragweed."
Frank returned from the USSR and went straight to the training camp of the Montreal Canadiens. It was a very good season for Frank and an even better campaign for the Canadiens. Frank scored 38 goals and 55 assists gave him 93 points; good for ninth place in the NHL scoring race. His Canadiens lost just 10 times all season and finished the 1972-73 season in first place with an eye-popping 120 points, finishing first in the league and 13 points better than second-place Boston.
Montreal disposed of Buffalo with relative ease in the quarter-finals, taking the best-of-five series in four games. Frank Mahovlich contributed 2 goals and 2 matching assists. They then out-worked the Philadelphia Flyers in the semi-final, taking the best-of-seven in five games. The Big M picked up 2 goals and 4 assists against the Broad Street Bullies.
The Stanley Cup final match-up saw Montreal facing the Chicago Black Hawks. The Canadiens pounced on the Hawks in Game 1, strapping Chicago 8-3 with Mahovlich contributing an assist. Frank scored an empty net goal and picked up an assist in Montreal's 4-1 victory in Game 2. Not to be swept, Chicago fought back and pummeled Montreal 7-4 in Game 3, although Frank added a goal and an assist to his mounting point total. Montreal then blanked Chicago 4-0 in the fourth game of the final.
Two future Hall of Famers surely felt like targets in a shooting gallery during Game 5. The 8-7 Chicago win didn't look particularly good on either the Hawks' Tony Esposito or Montreal's Ken Dryden. The Big M scored a goal and contributed 2 assists to his team's efforts.
Mahovlich collected a goal and an assist as the Montreal Canadiens earned the Stanley Cup championship in Game 6, winning 6-4 against the Black Hawks. For the Montreal Canadiens, it was the 17th Stanley Cup victory for the franchise. For Frank Mahovlich, it was Stanley Cup number 6. He had contributed significantly, too, collecting 23 points in 17 playoff contests.
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In 1998, Frank became a Senator in Ottawa. No, he was not coming out of retirement to skate with Yashin and Alfredsson; he was appointed to the Canadian Senate where he sits to this day.
|Frank Mahovlich returned with the Stanley Cup to his birthplace and was paraded through the city in a yellow Mustang convertible.
Frank Mahovlich is the last of the Stanley Cup champions to enjoy a day with the Stanley Cup this summer, and he decided to do something extra special. Returning to his hometown of Timmins, Ontario, Senator Mahovlich was accompanied by another famous former resident of Timmins world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Frank Gehry was born in Toronto in 1929, but moved with his family to Timmins in the early 1940's. By 1946, Gehry had moved to Los Angeles where he would later graduate from the University of Southern California's School of Architecture. Among his most prized creations are the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California. For hockey enthusiasts, Gehry created the World Cup of Hockey, first awarded in September 2004.
The two famous Franks visited Timmins together on Saturday, September 16. Each brought his most famous hockey trophy Frank Gehry the World Cup and Frank Mahovlich, the Stanley Cup.
The plane arrived in Timmins just past noon, and Mayor Vic Power, a delightful man and great advocate of his city, was there to meet the flight. Frank and his wife Marie took the Stanley Cup to the nearby Golden Manor retirement home and the residents were absolutely thrilled.
|Three greats lined up to recount tales of Timmins on Saturday, September 17. On the left, Senator Frank Mahovlich, famous in both political and hockey arenas; in the centre, world famous architect, World Cup of Hockey creator and former Timmins resident Frank Gehry and right, hardrock NHL All-Star defenseman, Gus Mortson. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
A parade then led the celebrities through the city and ended at legendary McIntyre Arena. Frank Mahovlich rode with the Stanley Cup in a yellow Mustang convertible while Frank Gehry was driven in a Lincoln sedan with the World Cup of Hockey at his side.
J.P. Bickell, the chairman of McIntyre-Porcupine Mines in Schumacher, Ontario, conceived the idea for the McIntyre Arena. In 1931, Bickell had been instrumental in getting Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens built and was named the first president of the Gardens. In 1938, the McIntyre Arena was built specifically for workers at Bickell's mine but, more generally, for the entire area. It was built in Schumacher, just outside Timmins, because the McIntyre-Porcupine Mine was located there.
The arena, built in the image of Maple Leaf Gardens, was one of only three arenas in Ontario that boasted of artificial ice when it was built. Only Maple Leaf Gardens and an arena in St. Catharines could state the same claim. A combination of this wonderful facility and a motherlode of talent sent a parade of players to the NHL, including Pete Babando, Bill Barilko, Real Chevrefils, Les and Murray Costello, Bep Guidolin, three Hannigan brothers, Bob Nevin, Allan Stanley and brothers Peter and Frank Mahovlich.
A private reception was held upstairs in the banquet room above the ice surface at the arena. Both the Stanley Cup and the World Cup were on display and both Frank Gehry and Frank Mahovlich were feted by the City of Timmins. At 2:00, a long line of anxious fans got the opportunity to get their pictures taken with the Stanley Cup and to meet NHL stars Gus Mortson, who enjoyed an All-Star career with Toronto, Chicago and Detroit through the forties and fifties, and Jim Mair, who played with the Flyers, Islanders and Canucks in the 1970's.
A gala reception was held at 6:30 that evening in the banquet room of the McIntyre. More than 200 invitees captains of industry, hockey elite and political figures included -- joined the celebration to honour Senator Mahovlich and Frank Gehry. Cocktails were served until 7:30 when the head table was piped in by the Timmins Police Pipes and Drums. Chantal Delorme sang 'O Canada', then Father Pat Lafleur offered the blessing. Spread between courses of a meal that included soup, salad and prime rib, speeches addressing the honoured guests were made. Charlie Angus, the Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay and an excellent hockey author and musician, spoke first, followed by salutations from Member of Provincial Parliament Gilles Bisson. Unfortunately, Frank Gehry was called away early so was unable to attend this part of the celebration but Senator Mahovlich was at the head table and spoke to the assembled about his love of the Timmins area and his pride in being able to return home with the Stanley Cup. The evening ended at 11:30.
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The Stanley Cup reception in Timmins was an elegant way to end the Stanley Cup's Summer of 2005 tour, visiting some of the elder statesmen of champions. Crisscrossing the continent, the historic hockey trophy was the guest of honour at small, intimate gatherings and at much larger, ornate affairs. It drew both smiles and tears expressions of happiness and appreciation in both instances. The Cup touched thousands in its wake there are people in New Orleans recovering from Hurricane Katrina that will never know that Johnny Wilson's day with the Stanley Cup assisted in their recovery. The Cup visited hospitals and residences for seniors, giving them reason to rejoice in their personal memories. Lord Stanley's Cup had its picture taken more often than Angelina Jolie, Eva Longoria and Britney Spears could ever dream, and the photographs will adorn walls, mantles and scrapbooks for much longer.
You see, the Stanley Cup is special. It's the people's Cup. It can be seen, touched and caressed, unlike the championship trophies of its peers. The drive to one day, some day, win the Stanley Cup is ingrained into everyone who has ever laced up a pair of skates. Daydreams that one day, we might be able to lift that trophy over our heads in a right reserved solely for champions; that we might have our names inscribed on the Stanley Cup for generations of fans to examine and discuss.
Passion: stronger than any other emotion, and embodied in the 35¼" tall legacy to Lord Stanley that we lovingly know as the Stanley Cup.
Kevin Shea is the Manager of Publishing and Editorial Services at the Hockey Hall of Fame.