Frank Musil

This is Frank Musil. He split his career pretty evenly between the Minnesota North Stars and the Calgary Flames, also skating parts of a couple of seasons with Edmonton and Ottawa later on in his career.

Musil was a big, physical defender, combining strong skating and balance with a desire to play physically and unafraid. He even had a bit of a mean streak.

Musil was mostly a defensive-minded defenseman, more often than not making the correct safe play to get the puck out of the zone.

He made few contributions in the offensive zone. He had all the tools, just not the toolbox. He was a good skater with speed and mobility. He could handle the puck well under pressure. He had no great shot to brag about, but he he occasionally would slip down low for a back door goal.

Despite a promising array of talents, Musil seemed content to play ultra-safe on every play. He would always force a puck carrier wide rather than step up and take control. He would unfailingly fall back off the blue line rather than contain the point. He would carry the puck only a few strides, just enough to get to center ice and dump it in.

As one reporter put it, he was a reactive player rather than an active player.

Frantisek Musil was born in beautiful Paradubice. He would later play with Dukla Jihlava where he met the famous Holik family, legends in Czechoslovakia. Jaroslav and Jiri were brothers on the national team in the 1970s, and later returned home as coaches. Jaroslav had two kids - Bobby Holik, who of course you know as the long time NHLer, and Andrea Holikova, a world class tennis player. Frank would one day marry Andrea.

Drafted by the North Stars 38th overall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, Musil had helped his country win gold at the 1985 World Championships. Back in 1983 he helped the national team win silver at the worlds even though he was still a junior player. At the World Junior championships he help

Musil had no real hopes of being allowed to leave Communist Czechoslovakia until maybe late in his career. So Musil took matters into his own hands. He obtained a holiday visa and travelled to Yugoslavia with a girlfriend. Musil then met with Minnesota GM Lou Nanne and player agent Ritch Winter, who had arranged for an American work visa. Winter and Nanne used the work visa to fool the border guards, who were unaware that Musil was a defecting hockey star. The North Stars had been working on this secret plan for 3 years, waiting for Musil to complete his mandatory army service so that he would not be known as a deserter. With the working visa completely legit, Musil technically never actually defected.

Frank Musil would go on to play in 797 NHL games, scoring 36 goals and 144 points. With a changed political world he was able to return home and even play for his country again, helping the Czechs win a bronze medal at the 1992 World Championships.

Musil would later become a scout for the Edmonton Oilers. He had finished his career in Edmonton, albeit very painfully. He missed an entire season due to a spinal cord injury in a training camp practice. He made it back in the middle of the following season, but the nerve damage in his neck and arm ultimately forced him to retire.

On an interesting side note, Musil had a penchant for taking odd jobs in the summer time when he was still playing the NHL. He sold cars in Minnesota, and later worked a slaughter house in Alberta. He may have not made millions every season, but he certainly was paid well enough to have not worked.

On or off the ice, Frank Musil just did not know how to stop working hard.


Unknown August 11, 2014 at 1:10 PM  

I have known both Frank and his wife Andrea Holikova for several years. I helped Andrea when she left Czechoslovakia and later after they married they spent couple summers in my house in San Diego area. I also got to meet her parents Jaroslav and Marie Holik. They are all nice people and I am thankful for getting to know them.

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