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The Legend of Frank Carroll

He won a Stanley Cup in Toronto as a trainer back in 1918, but according to family lore, hockey also cost him his house.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Angus Carroll grew up in Toronto's east end, in a house filled with old pictures and mementos. His father Jock was an acclaimed writer and photographer, while his grandfather Frank Carroll had a fascinating life in sports - particularly when it came to hockey.

Over the years, Angus would research his grandfather, looking at an old scrapbook and asking relatives about Frank's exploits. One of those stories involves the Stanley Cup, back when it was merely a bowl. The other involves the reason the family had to move from its original home downtown on Jarvis Street.

"Frank was a pretty tough guy; he was tough as nails," Carroll said. "He was a Canadian boxing champion and also coached the Olympic team at one point (Frank won a bronze in 1928 as coach of Raymond Smillie). His solution to everything was to punch it."

Frank was the trainer for Toronto's Cup-winning hockey team in 1918, when his brother Dick was the coach. Frank also coached the Toronto St. Patricks a few years later. According to family lore, at one point during his hockey days, Frank found out that one of his players had gotten one of his daughters pregnant.

"So Frank beat the (stuffing) out of him and the guy was in the hospital for quite awhile," Carroll said. "He then charged Frank with assault and Frank did not go to the courthouse, because he considered the matter dealt with. So the court awarded this guy the family home on Jarvis Street and the family had to move to a cottage on Fallingbrook, which is where I grew up."

The story was retold to Carroll throughout the years by his mother and aunt - the latter of whom happened to work for Hockey Night in Canada on the production team during the 1970s and '80s.

Another family story involved that Stanley Cup championship back in 1918, when Toronto was unofficially known as the Blue Shirts (this involves a complicated dispute between the NHL and the defunct National Hockey Association, or NHA as it was known at the time). Angus Carroll was always fascinated by a picture of his grandfather with the 1918-19 Toronto Arenas, which proclaimed them 'Champions of the World,' and featured the Cup in the corner.

My guess is that the team were referring to themselves as the reigning champions (the 1919 final between Montreal and Seattle was cancelled due to the Spanish Flu outbreak), much as the Ottawa Senators did when they wore sweaters featuring the crest "Champions of the World 1920-21" during the 1921-22 campaign.

But the other mystery for Angus was another family rumor: That Frank and some of the players had carved their names into the inside of the Stanley Cup's bowl after their victory in 1918. I asked Craig Campbell of the Hockey Hall of Fame and he set the record straight: No one from Toronto was featured on the inside of the bowl, but there are names stamped in there from the 1907 challenge between Kenora and the Montreal Wanderers.

Either way, it's fun to delve into these bits of hockey history. Carroll has gone through plenty of files and pictures over the years, not only from his grandfather, but his father too.

Jock Carroll interviewed everyone from Marilyn Monroe to JFK to Elvis Presley, not to mention famous Canadians such as painter A.Y. Jackson and piano virtuoso Glenn Gould (he even spent two weeks as Gould's chaperone in Bermuda). When Jock passed away, Canada's National Library and Archive asked for his collection and Angus dutifully delivered hundreds of boxes to them.

Unfortunately, Frank's original scrapbook (Angus had the second book) had been tossed out years ago. Imagine what other stories it contained...

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