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Timmins is "Hockeytown"

• Credit: Photo: RichardBH, Flickr.
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Timmins is "Hockeytown"

The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour is Coming to Town November 26 & 27

Producing no fewer than 28 notable NHL players including the legendary Frank "The BIG M" Mahovlich, Timmins knows hockey.

Timmins is a winter wonderland – a snowmobilers' mecca, and a city that measures snow in feet, not inches. You may think “wilderness” or “cold winters” when you hear “Timmins,” and you wouldn't be mistaken. But the city is so much more than “just” a world-class winter experience! 

Like so many northern towns, Timmins is also the proverbial “Hockeytown.” Home to BIG names and BIG athletes, Timmins has produced no fewer than 28 notable National Hockey Leaugue (NHL) players (see the full list here). It could be said that Timmins knows hockey. 

One of those legends is NHLer Francis William Mahovlich, also known as “Frank” and “The Big M.” A Hockey Hall of Famer, former Liberal Senator and six time Stanley Cup winner, this NHL giant has been referred to as one of the greatest players to ever don the white and blue of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He hails from Timmins, Northeastern Ontario and this weekend, he will be honoured at the McIntyre Community Centre as part of the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour.

Fast Facts About ‘the Big M’

  • Ranked 26th on The Hockey News list of 100 Greatest Hockey Players
  • Rookie of his year, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1958
  • Member of six Stanley Cup winning teams, including the most recent Maple Leaf Cup win of 1967
  • Played in the 1972 Canada vs. Russia Summit Series
  • Member of the Order of Canada 

No. 27 - Frank mahovlich

Frank 'the Big M' Mahovlich (1962) - Trading Card photo.

A Timmins native born in 1938, Mahovlich would go on to have a 22-year professional hockey career in both the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association. By the time he was through in the NHL, the left winger would play in 1,181 games, score 533 goals, register 570 assists, and boast a points per game average of 0.934 over his career. And he's not the only talent on ice in his family; his brother Pete would become an NHL star as well. 

In 1954, the Big M was scouted by the NHL, and eventually signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, although he would not join them officially on the front lines until the 1956-57 season.

Even though the Leafs had a rough '56-'57 season (coming in last place), Mahovlich set the tone for his career and came out with 20 goals during the season, locking up the title of Rookie of the Year, winning the 1958 Calder Trophy and beating out rival, Bobby Hull. He would go on to be their leading scorer from 1964-1966. All in all, Mahovlich led the team to four Maple Leaf Stanley Cup wins over the course of his career with Toronto, the final time in 1967.

Despite being a superstar, Toronto was tough times for the Big M – some nights he was even booed on the ice by fans. Toronto hockey fans have always had a reputation for being a touchy bunch. In 1968, he was traded to the Red Wings, reunited with brother Pete, and playing linemate to another legendary NHLer you may have heard of – Gordie Howe. At a time when the hockey trades weren't the big deals they are today, this move made waves in the hockey community.

In 1971, he would move again to play with the Montreal Canadiens. This turned out to be fortuitious indeed for the Canadiens. During that season the Big M put up a career high of 96 goals, contributing to his fifth Stanley Cup win that year. He would register the sixth the following year. Some of his most productive years as a player were with the Canadiens. 

 photo mahovlich500goals.jpg

Mahovlich celebrates his 500th career goal on March 21, 1973. Photo: spyboy1 on PhotoBucket.

His talent on the ice ensured that he landed a spot on Team Canada for the famous eight-game 1972 Summit Series played against the Soviet Union. He would go on to victory alongside brother Pete Mohovlich, Paul Henderson, Phil Espisito and the rest, forever remembered in history as part of one of the most nail-biting series of hockey games ever played.   

Hockey – It’s a Hometown Thing

But hockey isn't just about history in this northeasern community – it's about the present, too. Timmins continues to pay homage to their hockey heritage every year – this year in an especially BIG way.

Celebrate Canada’s Game with Timmins November 26 and 27 when Ron McLean, Tara Slone and the Rogers team bring the Hometown Hockey Tour to the City! Cheer like you've never cheered before at this free festival, and be a part of the Live broadcast that's taking over the City of Timmins this weekend (airing Sunday night on Sportsnet). 

One of the BIG ticket events of the festival will be the ceremonial raising of two banners at the Timmins McIntyre Arena (better known as The Mac by locals), scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The event is in honour of two Timmins hockey legends – Frank Mahovlich and Bill Barilko (the NHLer famously mentioned in the Tragically Hip song, "50 Mission Cap"). 

Even if you're not in town for the Hometown Hockey Tour, stop in at The Mac on 85 McIntyre Road and get a feel for the community. As one friend from Timmins put it, “Some people pretty much live there in the winter.” There's no shortage of things to do, so take in a good old hockey game and support the hometown Junior A team, Timmins Rock, or grab a bite at the arena cafe.

Hockey will always be a favourite pastime in Canada – how will you celebrate?

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