Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Frank St. Marseille

Frank St. Marseille got interested in hockey later than most Canadian players. He did not start skating until the age of eight and didn't play organized hockey until he was 14. He played for the junior team in Levack until he was 21 and graduated from those ranks. Most players had been moved up by then, but not Frank.

He had a tryout though in the juniors with the Toronto Marlboros (OHA) when he was 17. He and Jim Pappin went to Toronto to try their luck. Pappin made the Marlboros, Frank didn't. Frank remembered that time very well.

"There must have been 100 boys at the camp. I only got on the ice a couple of times. I don't think anyone even noticed me. Before I knew it, I was back on the bus, heading home. "

In 1961 and 1962 Frank had three game tryouts with the New Haven Blades of the Eastern League and with Sudbury Wolves of the Eastern Professional League, but he wasn't retained either time. Then during the fall of 1962, he tried out with the Chatham Maroons of the Senior Ontario Hockey Association and made the team, earning $ 50 per game. He got 39 points in 45 games.

Then Chatham moved to the IHL and Frank moved with the team. He scored a respectable 64 points in 70 games during the 1963-64 season. Chatham then dropped out of the league and Frank was picked up by the Port Huron Flags (IHL). Frank had three impressive seasons with Port Huron between 1964-67. He scored 97, 90 and 118 points for a total of 305 points in only 210 games.

At this point Frank was 27-years old when he went on to beat all the odds. He got a shot at the NHL thanks to his brother Frederick. Frederick was struggling to make it as a classical singer in Los Angeles when he decided to write a letter extolling the overlooked abilities of his brother Frank to Lynn Patrick, who at that time was the GM and coach of the Los Angeles Blades (WHL). Hockey people were looking for talent everywhere at the time. Patrick was sufficiently interested to take a trip to Toledo to see Frank play for the Port Huron, Michigan team. He was impressed by Frank's play and signed him as a free agent for his St.Louis organization on November 23, 1967, which is where he landed when the Blades' organization did not get the NHL berth.

Frank started the 1967-68 season by playing for the Kansas City Blues (CHL). After 11 games Frank had 15 points and was recalled to St.Louis where he made his NHL debut as a 28-year old. He scored 16 goals and 32 points in 57 games for St.Louis and earned himself a regular spot on the team. Frank played in three consecutive Stanley Cup finals, losing all three of them.

Franks tenure in St.Louis lasted for six seasons before he was traded to Los Angeles for Paul Curtis on January 27,1973. At the time of the trade Frank held the St.Louis team records for games played and points. Despite that Frank was a very underrated player. He was a consistent and reliable performer.

Meanwhile, all this time, brother Frederick still was struggling to establish himself in his profession. Frank admitted that there were many parallels between the brothers.

"Maybe it's the way we grew up, but we're not the kind of guys who give up on what we want. It was tough for me, but it has been tougher for Fred. If I was underrated as an hockey player, Fred is more underrated as a singer. I wish I could write a letter for him that would open doors for him as his letter opened one for me. But he is beginning to get some breaks now and I know he will make it."

Frank came from a family of nine children, three brothers and six sisters, all who were married. They all grew up in the mining town of Levack, Ontario. Their father worked in the mines. When he came home from the dangerous, dirty work down below ground, he relaxed with music and turned his children to music. Frank's father was an outstanding athlete who played softball as a shortstop until he was 48.

Anyway, Frank played in Los Angeles until the 1976-77 season. His best season in LA was a 53 point performance in 74-75. His career high came in St.Louis 69-70 (59 points). Frank finished his hockey career in 1977-78 when he played one season in the AHL for the Nova Scotia Voyageurs.

What are the odds today to get to the NHL by writing a letter? It's more probable to get struck by lightning, but Frank managed to get a shot at the big league thanks to his brothers letter. He was an unspectacular player but he deserved every minute in the NHL.

9 comments:

Anonymous,  July 2, 2009 at 3:03 PM  

< Frank St. Marseille's Hockey story is a good positive one of perserverance and dedication to become a Hockey player.>

Anonymous,  February 10, 2010 at 11:01 AM  

all though i was very young when i met frank...maybe 8 years old, i was extremely impressed by him..he is a second cousin to me...my mom's first cousin...i met him in blezzard valley which is just outside of sudbury...he was visiting family who rarely got to see him because of his busy schedule..he was down to earth and very easy going...it is good to see this tribute to him...thanks...leona

canookie March 28, 2010 at 8:27 AM  

Hi Frank and Leona...

I am also 2nd cousin to Frank...my grandmother and his father were brother and sister. This is a great tribute to him.
Jaye Baker

Anonymous,  May 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM  

hes my uncle

Jacques,  August 17, 2011 at 6:46 AM  

Hi Frank,
Quite a career you had. I remember when we practiced, you and I and whoever showed up, on the rink behind the school in Blezard...late 50's. Take care.
Jacques Marengère

tom October 22, 2011 at 5:48 PM  

Met Frank and his family in Malibu when he was playing for the LA Kings. went to all his games and went to Sudbury to his farm and met all the family. A GREAT HOCKEY PLAYER AND A GOOD FRIEND.
Jim Magee

Anonymous,  January 3, 2012 at 5:18 PM  

Ha, hes my grandpa.

zipkellyc@rogers.com,  April 30, 2012 at 9:06 PM  

Hi Frank: Remember when we played for Quirk Mine in 1958?
You and I and Newsy Lalonde slept in a mining shack. I'm glad that you made it to the NHL. You deserved it.
Stan Coules

Dan Richards,  May 23, 2017 at 10:42 AM  

I have a pair of hockey gloves in LA Kings colors with #11 on them. They were given to me many years ago by my old friend Gary "Cobra" Simmons who played with Frank in the 1976-77 season with the LA Kings. I recently asked Cobra if he remembered the back story as to how he came by the gloves, but he could not recall. Anyway, if Frank would like to have his gloves back I would be happy to send them.

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