During more than four decades as a player, coach and executive, Frank Mathers helped shape and strengthen the American Hockey League (AHL). His talents were well known and many NHL teams wanted to hire Mathers. He was staunchly loyal to the Hershey Bears and remained content working with the passionate fans of the AHL.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Mathers was a gifted athlete who played both professional football and hockey. After spending three years with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the late 1940s and early 1950s, Mathers began a long and rewarding relationship with the Hershey Bears. As a player, coach, general manager and president, Mathers did every possible job that went with running a hockey team.
On the ice Mathers became one of the AHL's all-time great defencemen, being voted to the all-star team on five consecutive occasions during the late 1950s. After he took on the dual role of player/coach the team won three Calder Cups. His greatest asset was remaining calm but still pushing players to reach their potential individually or as a team. He retired as a player in 1962 and turned his full attention to coaching. When he left the game, Mathers stood as the all-time assist and point-scoring leader among AHL defencemen.
Mathers was named president and general manager of the Bears in 1973. He continued to uphold the club's position as one of the league's elite operations. They won three more Calder Cups with Mathers in this executive role. After 43 years, Mathers retired from the game after the 1990-91 season. He was given his own special night in Hershey as the community came out to thank one of their greatest adopted sons. Mathers was presented the Lester Patrick trophy for his life long dedication to hockey in the United States. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.