Frank Mahovlich: Top Ten Toronto Maple Leafs of All-Time, No. 9
Yesterday, I started my "Top 10" list with Red Kelly, and today I'll focus on the man that Kelly made a lethal scorer: Frank Mahovlich.
He began his eventual 12-year campaign with the Leafs in 1957, when he scored 20-goals in his rookie season, thus winning the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year. The following two seasons he scored 22 goals, and then 18 goals.
However, in the 1960-61 season, Mahovlich formed a line with Red Kelly and Bob Nevin. The three had obvious on-ice chemistry, and it showed with Mahovlich's 48 goals that season (that stood as a Leaf's record for 21 years).
The following three seasons, Mahovlich led the team in goals, and the Leafs also won three straight Cups.
However, although it seemed Mahovlich got along with coach Punch Imlach, tension was building between the two—and the fans. Mahovlich was often booed at home games, and was criticized by Imlach often, which likely led to why Mahovlich was admitted into the Toronto General Hospital for what was diagnosed as "acute depression."
Lucky for him, he was given many get-well wishes from fans during his stay in the hospital.
He returned a month later, and still led the Leafs in scoring with 23 goals. He also led them in scoring again with 32 goals in 1965-66.
However, that would all change, because when the Leafs won the Cup in 1966-67, Mahovlich had his lowest scoring season in seven seasons (18-28-46). He returned to the hospital again at the beginning of the following year, again for depression and fatigue.
He would play his last season with the Leafs that year (1967-68), scoring 19 goals and adding 17 assists in 50 games. It was his last season because he was traded to Detroit during that season. He would score a career-high 49 goals in his first season with the Wings.
He finished his NHL career with the Wings and the Canadiens, and would eventually play four seasons in the WHA for the Toronto Toros and the Birmingham Bulls. He would retire in 1979 after an unsuccessful attempt at returning to the Red Wings.
His NHL career totals are as follows: 1181 games played, 533 goals, and 570 assists, for 1103 points. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981.
So, although he eventually slowed down for the Leafs, the years when Mahovlich was a scoring threat were great ones. He was one of the main reasons why they won those three straight Cups in the early '60s, and that's why I chose the "Big M" as No. 9 of my list.
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