Category Archives: Frank Selke

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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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.

 

Selke Pays The Program Writers

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.

Whistle While You Work

Doug Harvey, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Jacques Plante, and Bernie Geoffrion looking like they’re on the set of “Mad Men.”

They’re all smiles, which could mean a variety of things. They’ve just destroyed the Toronto Maple Leafs, or they’re rolling along in first place, or Toe or Mr. Selke told them how much they were appreciated, or they just got paid.

Maybe they just finished off a few pops in the dressing room!

One thing’s for sure. This is the look of Stanley Cup champions.

 

 

Have A Nice Trip, Said Toe

Frank J. Selke, Montreal’s Managing Director from 1946 until 1963, had a secretary named Lee Dillon, and I have three things that belonged to Ms. Dillon, two of which I’m showing today, and a third in a little over a month from now.

This first piece is Ms. Dillon’s pass to get into games at the Forum, and how sweet would that have been to have a pass into the Forum?

And below is a greeting card to Ms. Dillon from none other than one of my heroes, Toe Blake.

I’m very proud to own this. Toe Blake was not only the legendary coach wearing the fedora who was at the helm for eight Stanley Cups throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, but who also played on the same team as Howie Morenz in 1936, and was part of the legendary Punch Line with the Rocket and Elmer Lach.

Toe Blake was my kind of coach. Old school, demanded respect, and a winner. Do you think Toe would put up with pampered trillionaire brats? Hah!

Jean Beliveau goes on record as saying Toe was a wonderful guy. Terry Harper told me on the phone that Toe was a real gentleman. And yet he was kicked out of the Forum pool hall for using too much profanity.

Scotty Bowman learned from him. The Rocket considered him a big brother. Players won for him.

And here he writes to Lee Dillon. (And maybe added a few pesos).