Lanny McDonald returns to Hall of Fame, this time as chairman
Lanny McDonald was appointed the new chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday. (Craig Glover/QMI Agency/Files)
When it comes to facial hair, Lanny McDonald’s ‘stache easily is Hall of Fame material.
So, in fact, is its owner.
And now, some 23 years after being inducted into the Hall as a player, the classy McDonald is in charge of the show.
To that end, kudos to the Hall’s board of directors for Wednesday appointing McDonald as chair, filling the vacancy left by the late Pat Quinn.
Class replacing class. And for that, the Hall deserves two thumbs up.
Of course, in his usual cordial manner, the unassuming McDonald rejects any notion that he is following in Quinn’s footsteps, claiming there is no way he could ever step into the big shoes of the ornery Irishman, who passed away on Nov. 23.
“Having been on the selection committee for years, you could really sense Pat’s presence -- he was, of course, a big man with a booming voice -- but you also saw his pure love of the game,” McDonald said, standing just a slapshot away from the Stanley Cup in the Great Hall on Wednesday.
“One of Pat’s biggest strengths that I noticed during our selection committee meetings was that he allowed people to have their say and make their points. He knew when to intervene, but he let the members find their own paths. And throughout the entire process, he was very supportive and encouraging all the way.
“It’s very humbling day for me. It’s a thrill and an honour to follow in the legacy created by those who came before me -- Pat, Jim Gregory, Bill Hay and John Davidson.”
McDonald will assume the role as the chair of the Hall’s Board of Directors on July 1 after completing his duties on the selection committee.
In 1,111 career games, McDonald had 500 goals and 506 assists during his stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Rockies and Calgary Flames. He won the Bill Masterton Trophy for sportsmanship in 1982-83 and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership on and off the ice in 1987-88, two examples of the quality traits that make him an ideal fit for his new position with the Hall.
“You go through different phases in your life and, for me, this is the next chapter,” he said. “I’m looking forward to embracing it.”
The ‘Stache has spoken.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Lanny McDonald has a soft spot for the frustrations of long-suffering Leafs fans.
He lived through it himself.
On Dec. 29, 1979, Punch Imlach shocked Leafs Nation by shipping fan favourite Lanny to the then-Colorado Rockies in a controversial trade that had embittered placard-carrying Toronto supporters protesting outside Maple Leaf Gardens, a symbol of their collective outrage that McDonald had been dealt.
More than three decades later, Leafs fans once again find themselves in a state of despair, having been forced to endure one of the worst seasons in franchise history this year.
“Even though I don’t have any (Leaf) tattoos, I do still bleed blue-and-white,” McDonald said.
“It’s sad to see where the team is right now. Changes are needed. But Brendan Shanahan is a smart guy and I’m very confident he can turn things around.”
McDonald added that it’s time players started taking pride in wearing the Leafs jersey again. And if they don’t, find guys who will.
“It’s an honour to wear that sweater,” McDonald said. “(Leafs players) need to get back to feeling that way again.”
Meanwhile, McDonald was much more upbeat about this edition of the Flames.
In his final NHL game, The Mustachioed One, wearing the captain’s “C,’ was the first member of the Flames to carry the Stanley Cup in 1989 as the team paraded the trophy around the fabled Montreal Forum after defeating the Habs 4-2 to win the NHL title. It was the only Cup win for McDonald, who retired two months later.
Now, as he watches this edition of the Flames, he can’t help but be impressed.
“The job (head coach) Bob Hartley, (assistant) Marty Gelinas and the entire Flames staff have done, is commendable,” McDonald said. “That team almost never gets outworked.”
Toronto and Calgary -- a tale of two hockey cities.
CONNOR McDAVID: NO McDISTRACTIONS
While the Sabres and Coyotes get ready to face off at the First Niagara Center on Thursday night in what is being billed as yet another “McEichel Bowl,” Connor McDavid and his Otters at the same time will take on Sarnia in the opener of their first-round OHL playoff series a 75 minute drive west of Buffalo in Erie.
Will McDavid sneak a peak at that Sabres-Coyotes score, given that it could have draft lottery implications? And, for that matter, is he thinking about the lottery itself, which is scheduled to take place within the next three weeks?
In one word: “No.” For McDavid, the lone goal is beating the Sting. Case closed.
“My whole focus is on the playoffs and the success of our team,” McDavid explained Wednesday night in a text message to QMI Agency. “It is very important that we are not distracted by anything.
“It will be a good test for us. They’re a good team and we’ll need to be good.”
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
While his fractured hand suffered in a November fight caused him to miss enough games to cost him the OHL scoring championship, McDavid was thrilled that teammate Dylan Strome won it with 129 points, thanks in part to a huge four goal-two assist performance against Niagara in the final game of the season.
And McDavid is even more stoked that Strome is projected to join him as a potential top-5 pick in June’s NHL entry draft.
“It was very good for Dylan,” McDavid said in a text. “He is a great player.
“He will be a great pick.”
Are you listening, NHL scouts?