Frank Mahovlich

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Frank Mahovlich
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1981
Frank Maholvich Ralston Purina card.JPG
Born(1938-01-10) January 10, 1938 (age 76)
Timmins, ON, CAN
Height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
PositionLeft Wing
Played forToronto Maple Leafs
Detroit Red Wings
Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Toros
Birmingham Bulls
National team Canada
Playing career1957–1979
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Frank Mahovlich
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1981
Frank Maholvich Ralston Purina card.JPG
Born(1938-01-10) January 10, 1938 (age 76)
Timmins, ON, CAN
Height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
PositionLeft Wing
Played forToronto Maple Leafs
Detroit Red Wings
Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Toros
Birmingham Bulls
National team Canada
Playing career1957–1979
The Honourable
Frank W. Mahovlich
Senator for Toronto, Ontario
In office
June 11, 1998 – January 10, 2013
Appointed byJean Chrétien
Personal details
Born(1938-01-10) January 10, 1938 (age 76)
Timmins, Ontario
Political partyLiberal
Occupationhockey player

Francis William "The Big M" Mahovlich, CM (born January 10, 1938) is a former Liberal Senator in the Canadian Senate, and a retired NHL ice hockey player, nicknamed the "Big M." He played on six Stanley Cup-winning teams and is an inductee of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Mahovlich was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.[1] His brother Peter also played professional ice hockey in the NHL.

Playing career[edit]

The son of immigrants from Croatia, Mahovlich was scouted by several National Hockey League teams while playing for the Schumacher Lions of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association. He signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who sent him to one of their Ontario Hockey Association affiliates, the Toronto St. Michael's Majors. Mahovlich played there while attending St. Michael's College School from 1954 to 1957. While at St. Michael's, he received instruction from Joe Primeau, who Mahovlich would later call the best coach he ever had. Mahovlich received the Red Tilson Trophy as the top player in the OHA for the 1956–57 season, in which he scored 52 goals in 49 games.

He joined the Leafs in 1957 and was a 20-goal scorer in his first season, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in what was otherwise a rough season with the last-place Leafs. During the off-season, he took courses at Assumption University in Windsor, Ontario. At the same time, Punch Imlach was hired to run the Leafs and soon became head coach and general manager.

In the 1960–61 season, Imlach put Mahovlich on a line with Red Kelly and Bob Nevin. The three immediately clicked and were the team's top three scorers that year, led by Mahovlich's 48 goals—a Leaf record that would stand for 21 years. The following season, the Leafs won the Stanley Cup, and repeated as champions in 1963 and 1964. Mahovlich led the team in goals scored in all three seasons.

Initially, Mahovlich and Imlach got along well, but their relationship deteriorated after a few seasons, particularly when Mahovlich's contract was up for renewal in 1962. He felt the Leafs gave him a low-ball offer and walked out on the team during training camp in September. Red Burnett at the Toronto Star described the situation as a "cold war" between Imlach and Mahovlich.

At that time, the National Hockey League All-Star Game was played at the beginning of the season, and during a reception in Toronto attended by team executives in the days before the game, Chicago Black Hawks owner James D. Norris offered the Leafs $1 million for Mahovlich. He believed he had an agreement with Leafs co-owner Harold Ballard and paid $1,000 as a deposit with the balance to be delivered by cheque the next morning. The next day, the Leafs gave Mahovlich the money he had been asking for, and told the Black Hawks that their apparent agreement the night before had been a misunderstanding. The Leafs returned the $1,000 deposit. The Black Hawks accused the Leafs of reneging on a deal. Conn Smythe, at this point a minority shareholder in the Leafs, was adamant that the deal should be rejected.

Mahovlich also had a rocky relationship with fans at Maple Leaf Gardens and was often booed at home games. Imlach—who mispronounced Mahovlich's name for years—became a constant critic and, under pressure from fans and management, Mahovlich was admitted to Toronto General Hospital in November 1964, suffering from what was publicly described as "constant fatigue" but diagnosed as acute depression. Mahovlich was flooded with well-wishes from fans during his time off. He returned to the lineup a month later and was still able to lead the Leafs in scoring in the 1964–65 season, despite missing 11 games. Mahovlich led the Leafs in scoring again in the 1965–66 season.

The Leafs won the Stanley Cup in the 1966–67 season, with Mahovlich having his lowest-scoring year in seven seasons. Early into the next season, Mahovlich was again admitted to hospital, although this time it was acknowledged publicly as depression and tension. "Mahovlich is a sensitive, easily-bruised individual," wrote Milt Dunnell in a page-one story in the Toronto Star. On March 3, 1968, in a blockbuster trade, Mahovlich was sent to the Detroit Red Wings with Pete Stemkowski, Garry Unger and the rights to Carl Brewer for Norm Ullman, Paul Henderson, Floyd Smith and Doug Barrie.

Mahovlich had a strong finish to the season with the Red Wings, and the following year put up his best point totals in eight seasons, playing on a line with Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio, and setting his personal record for goals in a season with 49. Initially, one of his teammates on the Red Wings was his younger brother, Peter Mahovlich, who split his time between the Wings and their minor league affiliate.

In 1970–71, Red Wings general manager Sid Abel wanted to get rid of coach Ned Harkness and was overruled by team owner Bruce Norris. Once Harkness took over as general manager, he got rid of players he deemed a threat to him. On January 13, 1971, Mahovlich was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Mickey Redmond, Guy Charron and Bill Collins. He was reunited with his brother, who had become a star player himself with the Canadiens. Mahovlich spent three-and-a-half seasons in Montreal, playing on the Stanley Cup-winning teams of 1971 and 1973. During the 1971–72 season, Mahovlich scored a career-high 96 points, which he nearly matched the following season with 93 points.

He also was a member of Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. In 1974, he left the NHL for the World Hockey Association, and represented Canada again at the 1974 Summit Series. In the WHA, he played for the Toronto Toros and the Birmingham Bulls until his retirement in 1978 at the age of 40. While with the Bulls, Mahovlich was placed on an unproductive line with enforcers Frank Beaton and Dave Hanson, one of the Hanson Brothers who had been in the movie Slap Shot. According to John Brophy, when a reporter asked Mahovlich what was wrong, he replied, “I don’t know, but I seem to play a lot better with Howe and Delvecchio.”[2]

He attempted an NHL comeback with the Detroit Red Wings in 1979, but it was unsuccessful, and he formally retired on October 7, 1979.

Awards and achievements[edit]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
1953–54St. Michael's MajorsOHA-Jr.10112
1954–55St. Michael's MajorsOHA-Jr.2512112318
1955–56St. Michael's MajorsOHA-Jr.30242650558551024
1956–57St. Michael's MajorsOHA-Jr.49523688122427914
1956–57Toronto Maple LeafsNHL31012
1957–58Toronto Maple LeafsNHL6720163667
1958–59Toronto Maple LeafsNHL632227499412651118
1959–60Toronto Maple LeafsNHL70182139611031427
1960–61Toronto Maple LeafsNHL7048368413151126
1961–62*Toronto Maple LeafsNHL703338718712661229
1962–63*Toronto Maple LeafsNHL673637735690228
1963–64*Toronto Maple LeafsNHL7026295566144111520
1964–65Toronto Maple LeafsNHL592328517660339
1965–66Toronto Maple LeafsNHL6832245668410110
1966–67*Toronto Maple LeafsNHL63182846441237108
1967–68Toronto Maple LeafsNHL5019173630
1967–68Detroit Red WingsNHL1379162
1968–69Detroit Red WingsNHL7649297838
1969–70Detroit Red WingsNHL743832705940002
1970–71Detroit Red WingsNHL3514183230
1970–71*Montreal CanadiensNHL38172441112014132718
1971–72Montreal CanadiensNHL764353963663252
1972–73*Montreal CanadiensNHL783855935117914236
1973–74Montreal CanadiensNHL713149804761230
1974–75Toronto TorosWHA733844822763032
1975–76Toronto TorosWHA7534558914
1976–77Birmingham BullsWHA173202312
1977–78Birmingham BullsWHA721424382231120
OHA totals1058874162197127121938
WHA totals237891432327594152
NHL totals1181533570110310561375167118163


YearTeamEvent GPGAPPIM
Senior int'l totals122246

Post-playing career[edit]

Mahovlich was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981 and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1994, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

In 1998, Mahovlich was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and in the same year, he was ranked number 27 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, the highest-ranking player who had spent at least a majority of his career with the Maple Leafs. Coincidentally, his ranking of 27 matched the uniform number he wore throughout his NHL career.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frank Mahovlich". Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Bill Boyd, All Roads Lead to Hockey: Reports from Northern Canada to the Mexican Border, Key Porter Books, 2004, p.105.
  3. ^ WHA Hall of Fame Members

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Larry Regan
Winner of the Calder Trophy
Succeeded by
Ralph Backstrom