Skip to main content

Jimmy Franks

Jim Franks is a long-forgotten about goaltender in National Hockey League history. There was a time where he played 42 NHL games, including the bulk of the 1942-43 season as the starter with the New York Rangers.

Not that he won many games. That season with the Rangers he won just five times 23 attempts. He won just twelve games in his career.

Franks came out of Melville, Saskatchewan, where he played hockey every moment he could when he wasn't at school, helping on the farm or sleeping.

He went on to star with the Regina Pats, backstopping them all the way to the Memorial Cup tournament in 1933. Unfortunately they placed second, behind the Newmarket Redmen, in their quest for Canada's junior hockey championship. The deciding game reached triple overtime!

From their Franks played a couple of seasons of senior hockey in Saskatchewan, getting the Prince Albert Mintos into Allan Cup contention.

He turned pro in 1936, playing with the Pittsburgh Hornets of the American league. He got a surprise call to the National Hockey League that season though. The Detroit Red Wings had an injury situation to starter Norm Smith and called up Franks in time.

Franks faced the Montreal Canadiens and their goaltender Wilf Cude, who was one of the few people in the building who knew who Franks was. Cude played senior hockey in Melville back when Franks was still a junior. Cude had arranged for a special greeting for Franks, making his first NHL game extra special. Franks returned the gesture by having "as fine a debut as any newcomer ever made," according to local newspaper reports. However Franks would lose the game, allowing just two goals.

The Red Wings returned Franks to the minor leagues for several more seasons. He didn't get another shot at the NHL until 1942. The Wings loaned Franks to the New York Rangers, who were desperate for a goaltender after their starter, Sugar Jim Henry, was forced to leave due to war time service with the Canadian military.

Franks arrived in New York with some fanfare, especially after winning his first game. The Rangers upset the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1.

Unfortunately for Franks and the Rangers, the wins would not come easy the rest of the season. It got worse for Franks. His season ended early thanks to a broken wrist suffered against his old team, Detroit. Bill Beveridge mopped up for the Rangers at the end of the year.

Franks returned to the Detroit organization for the 1943-44 season. He created quite the controversy that season, as he refused to report to the minor leagues like the Wings wanted. He was suspended by the team and it wasn't resolved until it was agreed that Franks would play the Red Wings' road games only. Connie Dion would play the home games.

Franks went 6-8-3 that season on the road with the Wings.

Interestingly, Franks had one more game that season, a 6-1 loss against his teammates from Detroit. The Boston Bruins needed a goalie thanks to an injury to Bert Gardiner, so the Wings agreed to let Franks play for their opposition on the night of January 29th, 1944.

That would prove to be Jimmy Franks final NHL contest. He would play one more season in the minor leagues before hanging up his blocker and glove.

Franks would go on to work for the Ford Motor Company from 1939 through 1972, working in plants in Detroit, Chicago, Ohio, California and even briefly in Europe. He retired in Oregon. He passed away on February 12th, 1994 at the age of 79


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