Frank Calder (Frank Sellick Calder)

Frank Calder

In 1917, the NHA’s owners decided to drop Eddie Livingstone’s Toronto Blueshirts franchise and took his players. The NHA’s president, Frank Robinson, seeing he was as powerless as his predecessor Emmett Quinn was, resigned as NHA president. Frank Calder, the league secretary, saw opportunity in the situation. He decided that the NHA owners allied against Eddie Livingstone needed someone to represent them, and, in effect, Calder was—at least for all practical purposes—the new president of the NHA. He arranged meetings between the NHA’s owners to figure out how to get rid of Livingstone. They decided to form a new league, the National Hockey League, in the NHA’s place. Calder was elected president of the new league which was officially established on November 26, 1917. Frank Calder wielded his power as president with authority. One example of this authority occurred during the Hamilton Tigers strike in 1925. Rather than negotiate with the players, he suspended and fined them each $200. In 1926, Calder first arranged a co-operation agreement with the new American Hockey Association (AHA) then broke it upon learning that Livingstone owned the Chicago Cardinals franchise in Chicago. He declared that several Cardinals players belonged to the Black Hawks or other teams and arranged for the ouster of Livingstone from the AHA. Livingstone would give up on professional hockey and return to amateur hockey. When the AHA later attempted to play for the Stanley Cup, he declared it an “outlaw league”, but he happily accepted James E. Norris who owned the Chicago Shamrocks into the NHL to bail out the struggling Detroit Cougars.

Frank Calder was adamant that minorities would not be restricted in the NHL. During the 1927–28 season, upon hearing of the Boston Black Panthers, the first all-Black hockey team in the U.S., he was reported to have remarked that, “Pro hockey has no ruling against the colored man, nor is it likely to ever draw the line,” a reference to the segregation in baseball. Only one attempt to remove Calder as president of the NHL was made. This was in 1932–33 when the owner of the Chicago Black Hawks, Frederic McLaughlin, circulated a letter to the NHL board of governors to remove him. The board rejected the motion. Commencing with the 1932–33 season, Calder named the top rookie in the NHL. Starting in 1936–37, he convinced the NHL’s board of governors to let him buy a trophy to give to the league’s top rookie and he did this until 1941–42. After his death, the trophy was made permanent as the Calder Memorial Trophy. Frank Calder received a silver service in 1937–38 for his 20 years as president of the NHL. Frank Calder was presiding over a meeting of the NHL’s board of governors on January 25, 1943 when he suffered a heart attack, followed by another in a Toronto hospital. On February 3 he felt well enough to travel and returned to Montreal the next day. However, he checked into Montreal General Hospital upon arrival and suffered another, fatal heart attack soon after. He is interred in the Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec.

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Born

  • November, 17, 1877
  • United Kingdom
  • Bristol, England

Died

  • February, 04, 1943
  • Canada
  • Montreal, Quebec

Cause of Death

  • heart attack

Cemetery

  • Mount Royal Cemetery
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Canada

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