Category Archives: Frank Selke

More Of The Book

From time to time lately I’ve been showing pages from my old Habs scrapbook. Here’s more.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record MP3, just click on the photos to make ‘em bigger.

The Writers Get Paid

From my collection, this original accounts payable sheet is from Frank J. Selke, signed at the bottom, to various writers who had contributed stories to the Maple Leafs Gardens program in 1938.

Frank Selke, before he became the iconic GM of the Montreal Canadiens from 1946 to 1964, was an assistant and right-hand man to Conn Smythe in Toronto, from 1929 until ’46, when he moved to Montreal.

The names on this sheet are extraordinary, and when you see a payment of $40 for example, according to the Consumer Price Index, $40 in 1938 is equivalent to $642.23 today. And $25 equals $457.42.

Here they are:

Bobby Hewitson, an NHL referee from 1920 to 1934, was the very first curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and was sports editor of the now-defunct Toronto Telegram, a newspaper I delivered when I was 11 or 12. I had the final edition copy for years until my ex-wife threw it out.

Bill Grimes, legendary Boston sportswriter.

Elmer Ferguson, legendary sportswriter for the Montreal Herald and Montreal Star, which spanned 39 years. Elmer was also a radio commentator for the Montreal Maroons (1933-38) and the Canadiens (1938-67). He remains one of the greatest hockey writers of all time.

Tommy Munns, assistant sports editor of the Globe and Mail.

Victor O. Jones, sportswriter for the Boston Globe.

Ted Reeves, a true legend. Played on two Grey Cup Argos teams, and became a beloved sports writer with the Toronto Telegram and Toronto Sun. There’s even an arena named after him in Toronto. He used to write these rambling sports poems, one of which I have in an old program, and his nickname was “The Moaner.”

Fred Jackson, succeed Lou Marsh as sports editor of the Toronto Star.

Hal Straight, sports editor of the Toronto Sun, a man who taught Pierre Berton the ins-and-outs of the newpaper business.

Marc McNeil, sportswriter for the Montreal Gazette.

Bill Roche, sportswriter in Sarnia and Toronto, and hockey author.

Jim Hurley, sportswriter for the New York Daily Mirror.

Harry Scott, sports editor of the Calgary Albertan, who played two seasons for the Montreal Canadiens (1913-14, 1914-15), with Georges Vezina and Newsy Lalonde as teammates.

Please note: I couldn’t find any information about Boaxil O’Meara and John Buss. If anyone can fill me in I would appreciate it very much.

Surprising Turn Of Habs Jacket Events

I find it hard to believe what happened yesterday.

But I think I need to start from the beginning.

A long time ago, when I was about 13, I saw a man coming out of church wearing a black sports jacket with a blue, white, and red crest on the breast that said “CHC” which stood for Club de Hockey Canadien, or Canadiens Hockey Club. I knew what it was right away because I had a picture of Maurice Richard wearing one.

I asked this man, whose name was Roy Faubert, why he had this jacket, and told me he did some scouting for the Canadiens. I thought that was excellent, that a Habs scout was in my midst, and not long after he took my buddy Ron Clarke and I to a game in Huntsville where he was looking at a few players.

I wrote about this a few years ago, how I had a picture of Maurice Richard wearing his jacket, how I’d written the Canadiens asking if I could have a crest like that, and that Frank Selke Jr. had written back saying no. And how Roy Faubert came to church wearing the same jacket as the Rocket.

Now here’s the part that’s left me speechless. I work at Classic Auctions, and yesterday I had a good look at a jacket that came in, a black sports jacket from the early-1960s, with a crest that reads “CHC”. It was like the one Rocket had, and like Roy Faubert’s from fifty years ago at church.

As I was checking the jacket out, I looked in the inside pocket, and the name and date were there. It read “Roy Faubert 1963″.

Fifty years later, Roy Faubert’s jacket has come back into my life.

Here it is below. And below it is the letter from Frank Selke saying I couldn’t have the crest. Under that is Rocket wearing his.

Roy's jacket

The Habs Let Orr Slip Away

Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, and Guy Lapointe were the Canadiens’ Big Three defencemen in the 1970s. Three of the best, all on one team.

Then imagine having Bobby Orr in the mix. The Big Four.

With those four taking care of the blueline, with Ken Dryden in goal, and with Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Steve Shutt, Bob Gainey, Yvan Cournoyer and the gang up front, it just wouldn’t have been fair.

Orr as part of the powerhouse Habs of the ’70s. It boggles the mind. And it could have happened.

Stephen Brunt, in his 2006 book “Searching for Bobby Orr” writes about that historic first sighting of Orr, when Wren Blair and other Bruins brain trust went to a bantam tournament in Gananoque, Ontario in 1961 to have a look at a couple of players, and soon forgot about the two they’d come to see because a little 12-year old blond-haired kid from Parry Sound was skating rings around everybody.

It’s magical hockey lore, one of the game’s great stories, forever to be told. Until global warming melts the rinks permanently.

But Blair and his gang weren’t the only NHL people in the Gananoque rink that day. Scotty Bowman, the Montreal Canadiens young head scout for eastern North America, was sent by Sam Pollock to Gananoque to have a look at not only the two players everyone else was watching, Doug Higgins and Rick Eaton, but to also check out a kid named Orr that the Canadiens had gotten wind of through an old friend of Frank J. Selke.

Bowman watched the little kid, wearing number 2 for Parry Sound, and was impressed. “He was dominating,” Bowman says in Brunt’s book. “But he was very small – much smaller than all of the other guys. He could really skate and fly around. I’d never seen a guy that good at that young age.”

Soon after, Bowman visited the Orr home in Parry Sound, but it was mostly just a social call. The Habs had nothing to offer, they weren’t in the practice of handing out signing bonuses then, and they wouldn’t commit to a kid still in grade school. And as soon as Scotty learned that Doug and Arva Orr had no intentions of Bobby leaving home, Scotty left it at that.

When Bobby got a little older and was more prepared to join the Junior Canadiens in Montreal, then maybe they could continue their chat. Just not at that time. He was too young.

Wren Blair of the Bruins didn’t give up, though. He diligently courted the Orr’s and finally got the papers signed. Orr joined the Oshawa Generals and not the Junior Canadiens, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Just think how it might have turned out. He might not have damaged his knees. Put him in a Canadiens uniform, and Montreal certainly wouldn’t have missed the playoffs in ’69-’70, which they did because although they were tied with New York for the fourth and final playoff spot, they had scored two less goals.

With Orr wearing the CH they would’ve been off to the races and might not have stopped until the 1980s were in full swing. But he wouldn’t have worn number 4. A big fellow named Beliveau owned it when Orr was breaking in.

Is it crazy to think that maybe it could’ve been ten straight Stanley Cups for the Habs in the 1970s with a healthy Bobby Orr in the lineup? Maybe it’s not so farfetched. But instead, those bastard Bruins got him and that was that. And anyway, the last thing I want to do is sound greedy.

But if only Scotty Bowman had made more trips to Parry Sound. Like Wren Blair did.

And thanks to Don in Texas for sending me Stephen Brunt’s book as a gift. It was a great read for sure.

Bobby Orr

 

 

 

 

Binder Power

Baseball has its dog days of summer, but so does hockey. The Canadiens haven’t played a game since losing 6-1 to the Ottawa Senators on May 9 in the opening round of the playoffs, bowing out four games to one in the process.  If my math is right, that’s 64 days ago.

It’s been a long time, and it’ll be a while yet before the puck is dropped for real again. And I’ve never come to grips with losing the Expos. It still hurts, and I’ve tried to revert to my childhood team, the L.A. Dodgers, but without Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, it just hasn’t been the same.

So I go to my binders and start pulling stuff out.

My brother used to be the bass player in country singer Michelle Wright’s band. He and Michelle ended up living together and had a place in Nashville, although things, as they tend to do, came to an abrupt end and my brother now has a wife and daughter and moved on a long time ago from those days.

Michelle would sometimes send me things, and today I found this as I was going through old binders.

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001

 

 

An Old Molson Photo Shows Up

It’s the beauty of the internet.

I think about a year ago, Don, a fellow I knew back in Orillia when I was young, found me through my blog and we’ve had some nice chats. He lives in Houston, Texas now, and over the past several weeks has sent me several hockey books, including a couple about Bobby Orr, and two dealing with Alan Eagleson.

Today the mail arrived, and along with the normal bills was an envelope from Don which had one of those great old Molson team pictures in it.

The Canadiens used to send these 7 x 10 photos out to fans who wrote, and I have two in my scrapbook, from the 1961-62 season and 1959-60. Don’s, as you can see, is from the ’62-’63 campaign, and you can see how the back looked, which is impossible with the ones in my scrapbook because they’re glued in.

These are nice things to have. Big and beautiful glossy team pictures from Molson. Nowadays, the team sends out photos about half this size. The more money they make, the smaller things get. Like programs. And team pictures.

Thanks a lot, Don. It’s coming to a loving home.

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These are the two I have in my scrapbook.

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Dick And Gomez

Long before he was a legendary coach of the Canadiens, Leafs, and Blackhawks, and long before he got frisky with the missus and made little Dick Jr., Dick Irvin Sr. was one of the world’s greatest players, which you can read all about right here – Dick’s Biography, and which also includes how he became coach of the Habs.

But enough about that. I want to mention one particular event.

While playing for Regina in the Western Canada Hockey League, Dick was deliberately hooked under his chin by a fellow with the great name of Spunk Sparrow. (In my next life, I want to be called Spunk Sparrow). And because Dick had a habit of playing with his tongue between his teeth, Sparrow’s stick caused Dick to bite right through this crucial part of the mouth which helped him eat, talk, and whistle.

Dick refused to have doctors look after him, stayed on the ice, won the faceoff, skated past the penalty box where Sparrow was serving his time, and belted Sparrow so hard that Sparrow needed sixteen stitches to fix the wound. It was only after that that Dick would let doctors sew up his tongue, which was hanging out of his mouth.

You see, this is what we need from Scott Gomez. If he’s not going to help his team by getting points, at least he can smack a guy sitting in the penalty box, or whack a guy over the head with his stick from time to time. If only to show he means business.

Is it too much to ask? We’d just really appreciate the intensity.

One small footnote about Dick’s biography link above. It fails to mention that Dick had a falling out with Montreal GM Frank Selke about the way he was handling Maurice Richard. Selke felt that Dick was encouraging the Rocket to display, far too often, his sometimes over-the-top fiery bad temper, and Selke replaced Dick with Toe Blake. (Rocket punched out and whacked a few people over the head with his stick too).

 

 

 

They’d Pay Back The Leafs That April

It was the 59th game in a 70-game schedule, and on this night, February 24th, 1960, the Toronto Maple Leafs would beat the Canadiens 3-1. But Montreal would eventually get the last laugh in April, winning their 5th straight Stanley Cup by sweeping these same Leafs in four games.

The Rocket would retire after this 1959-60 season and Doug Harvey would take over as captain. But because Harvey was heavily involved in creating a players association, and who also marched to the beat of his own drum, both of which didn’t exactly thrill Frank Selke and the rest of management, he would be dealt to the New York Rangers a year later (1961-62). Jean Beliveau would captain the team for the next ten years after Harvey moved on.

It was also only a few months before this 25 cent program went on sale that Jacques Plante would don his mask for the first time, on November 1, 1959, and he would go on to win the Vezina at the end of the season.

What a year. What a program.