Lanny King McDonald was born February 16, 1953, in Hanna, Alberta, the youngest of four children. At the age of five, young Lanny discovered skates and immediately developed his life-long passion for the game of Hockey. Saturday nights on the family farm were all about listening to Foster Hewitt’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts and following his favourite team … the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After a successful junior career played in both Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, McDonald entered the 1973 draft as a top prospect. At the time both the NHL and WHA were competing for talent and Lanny leveraged these competing interests to be picked fourth overall by the Leafs and locking in an extraordinary $200,000 per year contract as a rookie.
Lanny’s NHL debut was on October 10th 1973 against the Sabres. On that night the right winger assisted on two goals but also suffered a concussion following a check from Rick Martin. This was McDonald’s first and only NHL game played without a helmet and from that game forward could always be spotted by his Stan Mikita style Northland helmet, almost as iconic as his walrus-style mustache.
Lanny’s first two seasons in Toronto were underwhelming as he struggled to find the back of the net, which nearly led to a trade to the Atlanta Flames. The Leafs’ patience paid off in his third season as Lanny scored 37 goals and added 56 assists. Lanny never looked back as he went on to record his Hockey Hall of Fame career which spanned 18 seasons and 1,111 games in Toronto, Colorado and Calgary during which he scored 500 goals and notched up 506 assists. McDonald scored many important goals, but none more memorable than the one that he scored during his last NHL game – the game winner that brought the Stanley Cup to Calgary for the first time. It was a fitting end to an iconic NHL career that saw him score both his first and last NHL goals at Montreal’s Forum.
McDonald’s career highlights and achievements include:
- Stanley Cup Champion - Flames Captain scored the Cup winning goal in his final NHL game.
- Four 40+ goal seasons, including a 66 goal season with the Flames in 1982/83
- Awarded the Bill Masterton trophy as the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
- Awarded King Clancey Memorial Trophy as the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice.
- Appeared in four NHL All-Star games during his career.
- The first player to have his jersey retired in Flames franchise history.
- Inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
What's Lanny doing now?
McDonald is one of hockey’s most active alumni ambassadors. After several years of being a key member of the Flames’ back office, Lanny continues to promote the game he loves for both the Flames as well as the NHL. McDonald has always been a passionate and active supporter of the Special Olympics and the Alberta Children’s Miracle Network. On top of all of this, the McDonalds spend their summers in Montana, where the family owns four hotels and also operate a craft brewery business which, naturally, produces “Old 'Stache Porter”. A very busy retirement for a man who wouldn’t have it any other way!
Headline Photo Credit: The Globe and the Mail