This week’s hockey history (at least, as I see it) lesson is brought to you by Eugene Hütz.
“many girls want to be carnal with Lanny… because, like me, he is such a premium dancer!”
Very few hockey fans know that before Lanny McDonald ever picked up a hockey stick, he was one of the great opening and closing pitchers in the history of the MLB.
So, now at nine years of age, Lanny decided to follow in his father and brother’s footsteps and play hockey.
Despite being a grown man with a mustache, the other kids all the way up through junior just couldn’t seem to match Lanny’s scoring touch. Being one of the most respectable, honorable, and honest players of the game, the highly touted right winger was rewarded in being drafted by his childhood favorites, Toronto Maple Leafs (yuck.), fourth overall.
Since Lanny never tried to fracture someone’s skull or reinvent the game (that’s why you like him), to explain the path Lanny took in the NHL is to explain the situations around him and how he handled them.
After developing into the scoring machine he naturally was, Lanny became very good friends with the team’s captain Darryl Sittler. The promising team progressed year after year but kept falling short to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Montreal Canadiens.
After losing to the Canadiens for the second year in a row, the Maple Leafs organization decided it was time to shake things up and brought in harsh task master Punch Imlach who had coached the Maple Leafs to win the Cup in the 60′s.
As soon as he joined the Maple Leafs, he said there were only five or six good players on the team and immediately butted heads with Sittler (being that Sittler was a well respected member in the player’s union). While Sittler had a no trade clause (the Maple Leafs couldn’t trade Sittler unless Sittler approved the trade), Imlach went around that by irritating the team with stupid rules like wearing suits at all times and no beer on road trips which, considering that the whole goal of the game is to drink alcohol from the Cup, really put a damper on the team.
Since he couldn’t trade Sittler, Imlach decided to be a total fucker and trade Sittler’s friends. Yeah, welcome to high school. He really did this.
As if Imlach didn’t suck enough, Lanny was a target for being the Maple Leafs’ union representative and friend of Sittler. Lanny was traded to what was considered the worst team in the league, the Colorado Rockies.
It’s no surprise that a team coached by Don Cherry would suck, but Lanny made the best of it even if his numbers declined.
Lanny would only last three seasons in Colorado before being traded back to his home province with the Calgary Flames.
With the Flames, his numbers picked back up and he even challenged Wayne Gretzky for part of a memorable season in the scoring race.
Eventually, the Flames would reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 1989.
Let’s just say…
He retired on top. You can’t blame him.
Lanny is just an all around good guy and deserved to have the fairy tale career he did. His story can make this atheist almost believe in karma at times. That mustache is what dreams are made of.