September 05, 2015

Frank Mathers

Defenseman Frank Mathers only played 23 games in the National Hockey League, all with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored only one goal and four points.

With that resume Mathers may seem like an unlikely member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. But he was inducted in 1992, albeit for his role off the ice more than for on it. He was inducted as a builder, even though almost his entire career was spent outside of the NHL.

Mathers, a notable AHL player and two time Calder Cup champion in the 1950s, went on to become a legendary AHL coach with the Hershey Bears.

Not that that was the original plan. Mathers apparently planned on leaving hockey in 1956 to pursue a career in dentistry. He ended up in Hershey, enjoyed the city and joined the Bears as a player/coach and soon as head coach.

By the time he left the bench he was the all time leader in games coached in the AHL, and second in wins. Mathers compiled a career record of 610-512-134 in 1,256 games as a head coach, leading the Bears to Calder Cup championships in 1958, 1959 and 1969. He led the Bears to the Calder Cup Playoffs in 16 of his 17 seasons.

Mathers became the Bears manager after stepping away from the bench, winning three more Calder Cup championships - 1974, 1980, and 1988 - in his 18 years as manager of the Bears.

Here are a couple of interesting facts that most people do not know - Back in his playing days, Mathers spent the summers playing a couple of seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Ottawa Rough Riders. Mathers also spent his military commitments during World War II as a pilot in the air force.

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