The Selke family offered invaluable time and effort to the professional hockey world. Frank Selke Sr. (May 7th, 1893 – July 3rd, 1985) and Frank Selke Jr. (September 7th, 1929 – March 18th, 2013). Their contributions to the NHL and all professional hockey were crucial to the development of the league. There would be no NHL rivalry without the Selke family.
Frank Selke Sr. began his managerial career at the age of 14 as the manager of the now Iroquois Bantams. He then met the legendary Conn Smythe at a tournament. When Smythe purchased the St. Pats and rebranded them as the Toronto Maple Leafs, he hired Selke Sr. as his Assistant General Manager. This was the start of the strongest partnership in NHL history for 20 years or so. With his performance with the Toronto Marlboros, he received enough financial investment to create the Maple Leaf Gardens; one of the most iconic buildings in the province’s capital.
The two would bring three Stanley Cups to the city and would be one of the elite teams during their tenure until 1946. When Smythe went to war, Selke took charge of the organization. With some changes that did not fit Smythe’s plans, Selke eventually resigned in 1946 and later joined the Montreal Canadiens organization as General Manager. This sparked the true rivalry we have today, as the Leafs continued domination of the 1940s but then Montreal would dominate the 1950s with five consecutive Stanley Cups (1956-’60).
Apart from his team-related work, Frank Selke Sr. helped build the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, was inducted in the Hall in 1960, and has an NHL Award named after himself for the best defensive forward in the league.
Frank Selke Jr. began his hockey career with his father with Les Canadiens in Montreal. He spent 21 years with the Canadiens where he saw the arrival of six Stanley Cups, namely during the streak of five in a row. He also participated in the broadcasting side of hockey, where he joined “Hockey Night in Canada” as an intermission host for the Montreal Canadiens from 1958-’67.
After a brief stint with the Oakland Seals, a product of the NHL expansion process, as the President and General Manager, he returned to Montreal to rejoin “Hockey Night in Canada”, this time as Executive Vice-President. He retired from the hockey world in 1992 to fully pursue a very influential role with the Special Olympics in Ontario; a role he had begun in 1981.
Frank Selke Jr. truly donated his time and tremendous effort to the organization and was named an honourary coach of the National team in 2003 at the Dublin World Games. He earned the award of Canadian Volunteer of the Year in 1991 from his work with Special Olympics. His work will never be forgotten.