Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Considered too slow for the NHL, Frank St. Marseille, born on this date in 1939, was left undrafted by any club in the six team NHL. He played in the International Hockey League with first the Chatham Maroons om 1963-64, scoring 31 goals, before moving to the Port Huron Flags in 1964. There, St. Marseille lit up the league with his offensive game, scoring 38 goals and 97 points in 70 games in his first season in Port Huron.
He backed that up with a 45 goal, 90 point season the following year and in the postseason he contributed six goals and 12 points in nine playoff games as part of Port Huron's balanced scoring attack (eight members of the Flags had between 11 and 13 points) on their way to the 1966 Turner Cup championship.
St. Marseille, #12 on the Third String Goalie list of the Top Twenty Names in Hockey History, then led the Flags in scoring in 1966-67 on the strength of 41 goals and 77 assists for 118 points, which was good for third overall in IHL scoring. His timing could not have been better, as the NHL was about to expand by six teams for the following season, creating approximately 140 new jobs for players previously unable to crack the lineup of one of the Original 6 clubs.
Prior to his outstanding season, St. Marseille was on the radar of the St. Louis Blues general manager Lynn Patrick, who had been sent a letter by St. Marseille's brother Frederick, who was a singer in Los Angeles when Patrick was managing the Los Angeles Blades of the WHL two years earlier, extolling the virtues of Frank.
When Patrick was working on assembling the original Blues roster in 1967, he sent future Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman to scout St. Marseille, who dubbed him "the Gordie Howe of the IHL" and they invited him to the inaugural Blues training camp. Although he impressed at camp, Patrick and Bowman were still skeptical, declaring "he can't be as good as he seems to be", so St. Marseille was assigned to the Kansas City Blues of the CHL, where he proved he was the real deal, scoring seven goals and 15 points in 11 games, which earned him a call up to St. Louis on November 23, 1967 at the age of 28.
He scored 16 goals and 32 points the rest of the season and contributed 13 more points in 18 playoff games as he experienced the thrill of playing in the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season in the NHL.
After a 38 point season the next year, as well as another run to the cup finals, St. Marseille set a career high with 59 points in 1969-70 and a third straight appearance in the finals.
After two more 50 point seasons with the Blues, St. Marseille was traded to the Los Angeles Kings during the 1972-73 season. His first two seasons in Los Angeles resulted in another pair of 50 point seasons, including his best while in Los Angeles of 53 points in 1974-75.
St. Marseille, now 37 years old, saw a drop off in production in his final two NHL seasons, with 26 then 28 points. He played one additional season with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs of the AHL before retiring as a player to become the Voyageurs coach.
His finals NHL totals in 19 NHL seasons were 140 goals and 285 assists for 425 points in 707 games.
Today's featured jersey is a 1970-71 St. Louis Blues Frank St. Marseille jersey. This was the original Blues style first worn in 1967 and remained unchanged until 1973. Following it's use by the Blues, the jerseys from that season were given to a local St. Louis high school and shortened in length by a couple of inches.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1972-73 Los Angeles Kings Frank St. Marseille jersey. Similar to the Blues jersey pictured above, this Kings jersey was recycled by the club for it's own use. St. Marseille's name was removed from this jersey and it was then either used in the following year's preseason games or sent down to the Kings minor league affiliate in Springfield, Massachusetts, who had adopted the Kings name and colors.