Skip to main content

Great Trades In Hockey History: The Frank Mahovlich Trade

There have been some shocking trades in the history of the National Hockey League. No trade was bigger than the Wayne Gretzky trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles. But in 1968, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings shocked the hockey world with the trade of The Big M - Frank Mahovlich.

The Leafs dynasty days of the 1960s were officially behind them with this trade. The Leafs had won the Stanley Cup in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967, thanks in large part to a cast of veterans. Father time had finally caught up with those oldtimers, but the true star of the 1960s Maple Leafs still had plenty of hockey left in him. Frank Mahovlich was the handsome superstar of Leafs. Though he was at-times maligned by the Leafs fans and especially coach Imlach, the trade of The Big M was, at the time, nearly as shocking as the Gretzky trade 20 years later.

The Leafs moved Frank Mahovlich, Pete Stemkowski, Garry Unger and the rights to Carl Brewer for Paul Henderson, Floyd Smith and Norm Ullman.

The Leafs move was a desperate attempt to extend the dynasty one more spring, according to The Hockey News as seen above. It did not work. Though Ullman and Henderson in particular went on to solid careers in Toronto, the Maple Leafs began an awkward slide down the standings.

Mahovlich, meanwhile, enjoyed some of his best years personally in Detroit. Playing on a line with Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe, he scored 49 goals the next season. But the Wings were never a Stanley Cup threat. Mahovlich did enjoy two more Stanley Cup championships in Montreal, as he was moved to Les Canadiens in 1971, reuniting him with his younger brother Peter.

Here's a great YouTube clip featuring Punch Imlach announcing the trade and the reactions of Frank Mahovlich, Pete Stemkowski, Garry Unger and King Clancy.

And here's a YouTube video clip of the first match between Detroit and Toronto following the big trade.

And, of course, who can forget this monstrosity of a hockey card - the badly cropped head of Frank Mahovlich pasted onto a generic Red Wings player's body!


Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M