Francis Joseph Aloysius Selke (May 7, 1893 – July 3, 1985) was a Canadian manager in the National Hockey League. He was a nine-time Stanley Cup champion with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens and a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee.
Born in Berlin, Ontario (now Kitchener), Selke was managing the Iroquois Bantams in his hometown at the age of 14. He coached the Berlin Union Jacks junior team in the Ontario Hockey Association from 1912–1915, reaching the finals of the league championship in his final season. In 1919, he coached the University of Toronto Schools hockey team to the first Memorial Cup title.
He coached the St. Mary's junior OHA team to its third-straight SPA junior championship in the 1924-25 season, with a team that included future Toronto Maple Leafs star Joe Primeau. In 1926–27, the team became the Toronto Marlboros, and again won the junior SPA championship. Eventual Hall of Famer Red Horner was a star defenceman on the Toronto team. During his time with the organization, Selke also coached the Marlboros senior team.
In 1927–28, Selke became coach and manager of the Toronto Ravinas of the Canadian Professional Hockey League, with Primeau as the team's leading scorer. The team was bought by the Toronto Maple Leafs and renamed the Toronto Falcons mid-season. Late in the year, the team played some home games in Brantford, Ontario, after drawing poor crowds in Toronto.
Rejoining the Marlboros in 1928–29, Selke helped lead the team to the 1929 championship.
Hired by the Leafs
Selke became the top assistant to Maple Leafs managing director Conn Smythe in September 1929 — a position he would hold until 1946. He helped raise funds for the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931. While Smythe served in World War II, Selke filled in as acting manager of the Leafs and Maple Leaf Gardens. He did such a good job in that role that some of the directors of the company wanted him to remain in charge after Smythe returned.
Selke and Smythe clashed when Selke traded Frank Eddolls to the Montreal Canadiens for the rights to Ted Kennedy in 1943. Kennedy would go on to become one of Smythe's favourite Leafs, but at the time he was a big supporter of Eddolls and was upset that he hadn't been consulted before Selke made the deal. Once Smythe returned to Toronto, there was tension between the two, particularly after Selke wouldn't back Smythe's bid to become president of Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. With his working conditions becoming intolerable, Selke turned in his resignation in May 1946.
Joins the Canadiens
Two months after resigning from the Leafs, Selke was hired as manager of the Montreal Forum and became general manager of the Montreal Canadiens. He took over a Montreal team that had just come off two Stanley Cup championships in the previous three seasons, but was in financial trouble. Regardless, he signed a great deal of players and created an extensive farm system. Anchored by Hall of Famers Maurice Richard, Elmer Lach, Doug Harvey and Jacques Plante, Selke won his first Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1953.
By the mid-1950s, the farm system that Selke had established really began to put life into the Canadiens, producing additional Hall of Famers Jean Béliveau, Dickie Moore, Tom Johnson and Henri Richard.
After falling to the rival Detroit Red Wings in seven games in consecutive years, 1954 and 1955, the Canadiens won a record five consecutive Cups from 1956-1960. Selke retired after the 1963–64 season, turning the reins over to Sam Pollock. He died in 1985 at the age of 92 in Riguad, Quebec.
A nine-time Stanley Cup champion (1932, 1942, 1945 with the Maple Leafs; 1953, 1956-1960 with the Canadiens), Selke was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1960. A while after his retirement, in 1978, the NHL inaugurated the Frank J. Selke Trophy that is awarded annually to the best defensive forward in the league. In the QMJHL, the Frank J. Selke Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the league's most gentlemanly player.
Frank D. Selke Jr.
Selke's son, Frank Selke Jr., was also a noted executive and Publicity Director from 1951, 1965. He was part of 6 Stanley Cup winning pictures 1953-56-57-58-59-60. However, his name does not appear on the Stanley Cup. He was the intermission host on Montreal Canadiens broadcasts for much of the 1960s and was president of the Oakland Seals (later known as the California Golden Seals). He became vice-president of the Canadian Sports Network, producers of Hockey Night in Canada.
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