Hockey world mourns passing of former Whitby Dunlop, OHL GM and NHL Director of Scouting


Published May 6, 2024 at 12:54 pm

Frank Bonello
Frank Bonello. Photo Michael Burns Senior - courtesy Hockey Hall of Fame

Another member of the world champion 1958 Dunlops is gone, after the passing of long-time junior hockey executive and NHL Director of Scouting Frank Bonello.

Bonello, who died Wednesday, was 91.

Bonello was general manager and served brief stints as head coach of the OHL’s Toronto Marlboros over a span of 17 years from 1971-88, steering the franchise to Memorial Cup titles in 1973 and 1975. Bonello replaced close friend Jim Gregory as Director of NHL Central Scouting in 1988, a post he held until 2005.

Joining forces with coach George Armstrong through the early years of his Marlies tenure, Bonello’s teams (mostly with Leafs legend George Armstrong behind the bench) developed such names as Mark Howe, Bruce Boudreau, John Tonelli, Mark Napier and John Anderson.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman credited Bonello for expanding the Central Scouting department’s scope “exponentially” during a significant period of domestic and international growth for the league.

During his time at Central Scouting, some notable stars were selected No. 1 in the NHL Draft, including Mats Sundin (1989), Joe Thornton (1997), Marc-Andre Fleury (2003), Alex Ovechkin (2004) and Sidney Crosby (2005).

Bonello played his junior career playing with the Galt Black Hawks of the OHA in 1952-53 before competing for both the Chatham Maroons and Whitby Dunlops Senior A programs, winning the world title with the Dunlops in Oslo, Norway in 1958.

Most of the players from that championship Whitby Dunlops side are gone now, including NHL and Team Canada management legend Harry Sinden, future Whitby Mayor Bob Attersley and former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Sid Smith. Those who are left, such as Wally Maxwell and John Henderson, are in the 90s.

Veteran Durham Region journalist Roger Lajoie offered his “deepest condolences” to Bonello’s friends and family, noting the hockey executive “took a chance on me” when he hired the young reporter as business manager of the Marlies in 1982.

“He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word,” Lajoie said. “He did great things in hockey at all levels.”

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