February 06, 2016

Jack Marks

Jack Marks was an early day hockey-star-for hire.

How early? Almost his entire noteworthy career was played before the formation of the National Hockey League! But once the NHL did start up in 1917, Marks concluded his career with just seven NHL games split between three teams.

Marks was born in Belleville in 1882. It was there that Marks developed his game that would see him win a couple of Stanley Cup championships.

Marks turned pro in 1906 and became a vagabond hockey player, willing to play for anyone who was willing to pay him. That was not without controversy at the time as the pro vs. amateur moral debate still existed.

Nonetheless Marks travelled to Sault Ste. Marie, Cobalt, New Glasgow, Brantford (three times), Pittsburgh, Montreal, Toronto and Chicago all between 1907 and 1911.

When the National Hockey Association - forerunner to the NHL - was formed in 1911 Marks found steady employment in Quebec City. He would play seven of his next seasons with the Quebec Hockey Club, also known as the Bulldogs. Marks would help Quebec win Stanley Cups in 1912 and 1913.

The NHA closed up shop and reopened as the National Hockey League in 1917, but the Quebec franchise sat out that first season due to financial difficulties. The Quebec players were dispersed around the league on loan for that season. Marks started with the Montreal Wanderers, but that team would fold after a fire destroyed their arena. Marks moved to the Toronto Arenas, who were crowned as Stanley Cup champions.

Quebec made their NHL debut in the NHL's second season. But Marks would only play one game for that season. He retired soon afterwards.

Marks, a big man in his era at six feet and 180 pounds, was applauded for his tireless work ethic and tenacious backchecking. Not every player in that era could say that. He was a fast skater and tough as they come. Marks was a decent scorer earlier in his career compared to later, but lacked a dominate shot. He still finished with 108 goals in 167 equivalent-to-big-league games.

Marks, who was also a notable baseball player, once had to overcome a broken arm and broken ribs due to a train accident. That was back in 1909 and shook up the entire Brantford team. Marks would receive $800 from the railway company to compensate him, but he never regained his hockey form that season.

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