Lanny McDonald’s bushy moustache is his trademark, but so were such characteristics as speed, work ethic, and commitment. Those traits, not really counting his facial hair, helped make him a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Toronto Maple leafs made McDonald their first round selection (fourth overall) in 1973, following a brilliant junior career with the Medicine Hat Tigers. His high skill level and intensity enabled him to make the jump directly to the NHL and contribute in 1973-74 straight from junior hockey, an amazing accomplishment for anyone. For Lanny it was simply unreal – he had spent his entire youth dreaming of wearing the blue and white of the Toronto Maple Leafs and now he would get to fulfill that dream.
Evenually, he ended up playing for the Calgary Flames. and as co-captain of the 85-86 Flames team, McDonald led the them to the Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens thanks to 11 goals and 18 points. After finally knocking off their rivals from the north – Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers – in a dramatic 7 game playoff series that many would argue was the greatest playoff series ever played, the Flames seemed to run out of gas against a Montreal team that they should have been able to beat.
The Flames would get another chance in 1989 when the Flames returned to the finals and again faced the Montreal Canadiens. By this time McDonald was definitely near the end of his career. For three seasons he became more of a third or fourth liner who was present for his leadership. It was a good year for McDonald nonetheless. He recorded his 500th goal, 500th assist and 1000th point all in the same season. Then in the playoffs the Flames would not be denied and finally captured the Stanley Cup championship. McDonald scored just one goal in that playoff year – in the decisive 6th game of the Finals!
McDonald, one of the classiest gentlemen to ever play in any sport, retired as a champion shortly following the Cup victory. He would be honored as the NHL’s Man of the Year and King Clancy Memorial trophy in the summer of 1989, and would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 – his first year of eligibility. His number 9 has been retired by the Flames organization as well.