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September 09, 2015

Frank Martin

Frank Martin was a great junior hockey player in his native St. Catherines, Ontario. He starred with the junior TeePees for 3 years, excelling at both the forward and defense positions. He played defense exclusively as a professional.

Martin also excelled on the baseball field. In fact, he had the unusual choice of attempting a career in either pro hockey or pro baseball, as the Brooklyn Dodgers invited him to their training camp. Since it was so rare for a Canadian to break in to the major leagues of baseball, Frank opted to stay with hockey.

Martin was introduced to the NHL by the Boston Bruins in 1952-53, though it wouldn't be until the following year that he'd make the Bruins blue line full time. Frank was having a tremendous first full NHL season but halfway though the year "things went kind of flat for me" he explained. During the summer, Martin was traded to Chicago.

Frank can only speculate how good he could have become if he stayed in Boston however.

"If I had've stayed there (Boston), as I got a little more seniority, who knows what could've happened?" he couldn't help but wonder.

Martin put in three full seasons in Chicago before "things started to really fall apart."

"I really couldn't put my finger on what was going on," Martin said of his diminishing playing ability.

The Hawks sent Martin down to the minors in 1957.

"I knew when I went there (the minors), I wouldn't be coming back." he said.

And he was right. He'd spend the next 8 years in the American Hockey League, first with Buffalo and later with Quebec before one final season in Cleveland. He retired in 1965.

Martin, like Gordie Howe, was a rare ambidextrous stickhandler. With no curves on the blades of sticks back then, Martin could handle the puck, shoot and pass equally well left-handed or right-handed.

Martin became a skilled carpenter after retirement and got into the home improvement business. He was later hired as a maintenance man for the city of St. Catherines.

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