Like so many athletically-minded lads, Don Marshall devoted parts of his entire year to playing football, baseball, and hockey. But within the culture of his native Verdun, hockey was clearly the sport of choice for most and Marshall, with his natural, fluid skating style, was no exception.
During his junior days with the Montreal Jr. Canadiens of the QJHL, he performed as an offensively-minded forward with a nose for the opponent's net. When he turned pro in 1952, he kept up the same tradition in the minors while skating for the Cincinnati Mohawks of the IHL, the Buffalo Bisons of the AHL, and the Montreal Royals of the QHL.
Midway into the 1954-55 campaign, the Canadiens summoned him to join their ranks. The problem the winger faced, however, was that the Habs were already thoroughly stocked with offensively skilled forwards. As such, Marshall's new role would be defensive in nature, an assignment he disliked although he never complained openly.
Instead, he toiled quietly, polishing his defensive tactics to the extent that he became one of the league's premier penalty killers. As payment for his adaptation, he enjoyed a record five-straight Stanley Cup victories between 1956 and 1960.
By 1963, however, the Canadiens had lost their championship touch. In an effort to shake things up, they packaged Marshall with Jacques Plante and Phil Goyette to acquire Gump Worsley among others from the New York Rangers.
In the Big Apple, Marshall initially felt out of place but quickly began to appreciate his new opportunity to assume a more offensive role with the club. In the process, it was evident that, thanks to the strong defensive skills he had developed in Montreal, he was an excellent two-way player.
In all, Marshall put in seven seasons with the Blueshirts and enjoyed his most prolific offensive phase. In 1965-66, he netted a personal-best 26 goals and 28 assists within the context of some very solid defensive play.
At the start of his third decade in the NHL, Marshall was claimed by the Buffalo Sabres in the Expansion Draft of 1970. His new role with the fledgling club was to provide some veteran leadership for the younger recruits. He did all of that and then some. Although the team struggled defensively, he managed to pot goals as though still in his prime.
In spite of his contribution, the aging winger was left up for grabs in the Intra-League Draft of 1971. The Leafs took advantage by bringing him to the Gardens for one final season. During his last run, he performed as a steady, reliable veteran who had the versatility to plug holes and provide a calming influence on the sometimes rattled atmosphere on Carleton St. At the close of the season, Marshall packed it in for good.