Wednesday, February 17, 2016

1972-73 Montreal Canadiens Frank Mahovlich Jersey

Frank Mahovlich joined the Maple Leafs for three games in 1956-57 and during his first full season of 1957-58 would score 20 goals, beating out Bobby Hull for the Calder Trophy. Three seasons later in 1960-61, Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach would put him on a line with Red Kelly and Bob Nevin. The three of them would be the team's top three scorers that season, with Mahovlich's 48 goals setting a Maple Leafs record that would stand for 21 years.

Mahovlich, "The Big M", would lead the Maple Leafs in goal scoring during the next three seasons in which the Maple Leafs would win three consecutive Stanley Cup championships in 1962, 1963 and 1964.

Mahovlich Toronto
Mahovlich won three straight Stanley Cups with Toronto

He would lead the Maple Leafs in scoring in 1964-65 and again in 1965-66 before the Mahovlich and the Maple Leafs would win another Stanley Cup in 1967, the fourth of his career.

"It was truly amazing that we won again in 1967. When I look back at that team, I wonder how the hell we did it. A lot of the players were new to the team since our win in 1964. About eight or nine guys were around 40 years old. You can't find eight players that old in the entire NHL today! It gives you an idea of their talent, and that was in the six-team era," said Mahovlich.

Twice during his career in Toronto, Mahovlich would be hospitalized for depression and stress, a reaction to the negative way he was treated by the Maple Leafs fans during his time in Toronto and his conflicts with the Maple Leafs coaches and management despite the four championships and having led the team in scoring multiple times.

"In Toronto, we always had problems that we couldn't solve. There was always something going on. It's amazing that we won four Stanley Cups while I was there. As players, we had no control over these problems. Punch Imlach practiced us too hard. We left our game on the practice rink half the time. Despite having great teams, we placed first only once in the regular season. I think that the management orchestrated a lot of the criticism I faced from the fans. I was relieved to be traded from Toronto in 1968, but I always lived there and still do. I wear my Stanley Cup ring from the Maple Leafs every day," said Mahovlich.

More in need of a change of scenery that just about any player ever, Mahovlich would be traded to the Detroit Red Wings on March 3, 1968 in a blockbuster trade that would send four players to Detroit with four heading back to Toronto in return, including Paul Henderson.

"... Toronto never understood me or my game. I would have been better off being traded earlier. My career blossomed after I left Toronto. Detroit and Montreal didn't contain me with rules or restraints. They said, "You're talented, go do your thing."

During his first full season in Detroit, Mahovlich would set a career high in goals with 49 while playing on a line with Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio. He would also get to play some with his younger brother Peter Mahovlich, "The Little M".

Mahovlich Detroit

A season and a half later in 1970-71, Mahovlich was on the move once more as Detroit entered a rebuilding phase, this time being dealt to the Montreal Canadiens, where he was reunited with his younger brother Pete who had joined Montreal in the season before.

The move to Montreal was a good one for Mahovlich, as he would finish the season by adding another Stanley Cup to his resume after contributing a league leading 14 goals and 27 playoff points.

"The 1971 playoffs were the highlight of my career. The record I set for the most points in a playoffs for a Montreal Canadien, 27 points, still stands more than 25 years later," Mahovlich stated.

The following season of 1971-72 saw Mahovlich set a career high with 96 points from 43 goals and 53 assists.

Before the next NHL season began, Mahovlich was a member of Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

Mahovlich Team Canada 1972 photo Mahovlich Team Canada 1972.jpg
Mahovlich was a member of Team Canada in 1972

In 1972-73, he would come close to equaling his point total from the year before with 93, which included scoring his 1,000th point on this date in 1973. His assist in Montreal's game against the Philadelphia Flyers made Mahovlich just the eighth player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 point milestone. Just over a month later he would score his 500th goal to join that exclusive club. He would then add another 23 points in 17 playoff games as the Canadiens would capture another Stanley Cup.

Mahovlich 500 goals
Mahovlich celebrates his 500th goal

One more season in Montreal would see Mahovlich close out his NHL career by scoring 80 points to finish with 1,181 games played, 533 goals and 570 assists for 1,103 points and six Stanley Cups.

For 1974-75, Mahovlich would accept a lucrative offer to join the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association and participate in the 1974 Summit Series, which matched the stars of the WHA against the Soviet Union. Offensively, his two seasons with the Toros were successful, with 82 points in 1975 followed by 89 in 1976.

The Toros would relocate to Birmingham, Alabama of all the unlikely places, and be renamed the Bulls. The Bulls seemed more inclined to fight than score in order to attract fans. The aging Mahovlich was put on a line with tough guys Frank "Never" Beaton and Dave Hanson, one of the Hanson Brothers from the movie Slap Shot. Naturally, Mahovlich's point production plummeted, and when asked by a reporter what was wrong, he brilliantly replied, "I don't know, but I seem to play better with Howe and Delvecchio."

He retired at age 40 in 1978 with WHA totals of 237 games, 89 goals and 143 assists for 232 points, giving him over 600 goals, 700 assists and 1300 points combined as a professional in his 22 seasons.

Mahovlich was inducted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981 and would later be appointed to the Senate of Canada.

Today's featured jersey is a 1972-73 Montreal Canadiens Frank Mahovlich jersey from the season Mahovlich recorded both his 1,000th point and 500th goal.

The Canadiens red sweaters with the blue band around the chest date back to before the formation of the NHL in 1917 and this exact variation with the lace up collar and white numbers inside the arms stripes dates back to 1966-67 and remained in use through 1974-75 when it was replaced by a new v-neck collar.

Montreal Canadiens 72-73 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1968-69 Detroit Red Wings Frank Mahovlich jersey from the finest season Mahovlich had with the Red Wings when he scored a career high 49 goals.

Detroit introduced this jersey when the changed their name from the Falcons to Red Wings back in 1932 and it has remained essentially unchanged ever since, with only minor detail changes worth noting.

 Detroit Red Wings 1968-69 jersey photo Detroit Red Wings 1968-69 F.jpg
Detroit Red Wings 1968-69 jersey photo Detroit Red Wings 1968-69 B.jpg

Today's featured video is the "Legends of Hockey" profile on Mahovlich, featuring Frank himself.

Our next video is a recap of Frank's career, told at 1000 miles per hour by Paul Hendrick, who really should consider weekend work as an auctioneer. Follow along if you can.

Next, Mahovlich scores for Canada against the Soviet Union's Vladislav Tretiak in Game 2 of the 1972 Summit Series.

Finally, a real treat, footage of the first Toronto versus Detroit game following the blockbuster trade which send Mahovlich to the Red Wings, highlighted by a goal from The Big M.

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